Mark is on his third Red Bull of the night and the pile of articles from the associated press made their way to his desk sometime during the afternoon and are steadily driving him up the wall. It’s not even his job to edit these, but he has his felt-tip pen out and it seemed like a good idea two hours ago after he finished editing the pile of proposed papers from the college interns. There doesn’t seem to be anything worth salvaging, though, when he leans back and looks down at the over edited articles, bleeding blue. Mark is contemplating a complete rewrite of the whole pile, research and all, when there’s a knock on the door.
Mark jumps. It’s long past working hours and he was sure that everyone else had left by now, but he can see Chris’ silhouette through the opaque glass pane on the door. The knock is only a courtesy, and Chris comes in.
“Don’t you have a fiancé to go home to?” Mark asks, turning his chair to watch Chris come around the desk to perch on the edge.
“I do, and I told you to go home hours ago.” Chris picks up the empty Red Bull can and rolls his eyes at Mark before tossing it in the trash bin. “And I told you to use a different lamp so you won’t strain your eyes, and to use your reading glasses.”
Mark stares at him, but he doesn’t stop Chris from turning off his computer monitor. He leans back in his chair, watching Chris clean up his desk. Chris shakes his head at Mark's edits, piling them all together and putting them in an empty folder.
Chris stands, tucking the folder under his arm and tucking one hand in his pocket.
"Go home, Mark. I have you out interviewing the Brazilian prince tomorrow. "
Mark scowls then, turning his chair back toward his desk as he grumbles, "Why did I ever agree to work for you," his fingers working to spill his pencils over the surface of his desk.
"Because if you'd stayed in California Larry and Sergey would have had you assassinated."
"It's not my fault their site security was shit."
“Mark,” Chris sighs, and he reaches out, brushing his thumb along the hairline at the back of Mark’s neck. He applies light pressure with his knuckles and then steps out of Mark’s space.
“Go home and go to bed,” Chris says and leaves.
Eduardo didn't want to be a prince.
Of course, when he was young he liked the idea of being a knight, of saving damsels or other knights, and making the imaginary princes of his daydreams proud by exhibiting a great deal of wit and valour. But Eduardo never wanted to be a prince. He wanted it even less when he was a freshman in high school and instead of going through puberty in quiet embarrassment, while wondering why kissing Greg Kelly behind the school was more exciting than getting to second base with Lisa Roman, Eduardo had to deal with relatives who were strangers. And the knowledge that in college his mom had fooled around with the crown prince of Brazil.
Life changed drastically, but not necessarily spectacularly. While the people and the royal family could forgive youthful indiscretions made by the prince and even welcome Eduardo with open arms, no one wished for the crown to fall to him. With three half brothers who were considered legitimate successors in good health, Eduardo was just someone for paparazzi to follow. The only thing that made Eduardo truly interesting was his age. If the crown prince were older than thirteen, the press truly would have lost interest by now and Eduardo wouldn't be packing to leave Miami so he could act as the face of the royal family by doing an international tour.
"I hate this," Eduardo groans, falling into a seat beside his head of security to keep himself from protesting once more that he could, in fact, pack a suitcase without the help of a stylist that he doesn’t need.
Dustin grins at him, patting Eduardo's knee even though he knows it's far from professional.
"I know. You said the same thing the last time his majesty sent you outward bound."
Eduardo drags his fingers through his hair, listening to his stylist tssk at him. Dustin pats his knee again and then says something about checking on their schedule as he heads for the door to Eduardo's suite.
Eduardo sinks in his chair. His extraordinarily good posture is a thing of his new life, this restrictive, manners-filled life that had made attending Harvard impossible, and then Stanford, and finally Yale until he had to gather all of his transferred credits together and subject himself to waiting for Ricardo, the crown prince, to steal the limelight and allow Eduardo the opportunity of a quiet attendance at university. Four years and nothing to show for them later, Eduardo just wants the pageantry to end.
Unfortunately, Dustin knows this, having gotten Eduardo drunk on many more occasions than is appropriate, and Dustin is unbelievably effective when it comes to his job, his professionalism in private notwithstanding.
“Oh, and don’t even think about pulling the same stunt you pulled in Vienna!”
Mark wakes up late. He’d gone home and actually managed to stumble through his nightly routine, brushing and flossing and stripping down to his boxers, and finally made it into bed, sans laptop. Quietly thankful that Chris had made him go home because he was exhausted, Mark had face planted into his pillow and then his cell phone started buzzing. Mark should have let it go to voicemail, especially after he checked the caller id and didn’t recognize the number.
But he’d answered with a groggy, “Hello,” and had been treated to a far too awake, and happy one-sided conversation with Dustin Moskovitz. Mark hadn’t seen Dustin since sophomore year at Harvard. He’d lived down the hall from Chris, Mark, and Billy Olson and had popped in a lot to play Halo or Mario Kart with them. And then junior year started and he was nowhere to be found. He’d been a nice guy and once he got Mark talking on the phone, Mark remembered why he had grudgingly grown attached to the guy.
“We should all meet up, go get a beer or something you, me, Chris Hughes and Billy Olson.”
“I don’t know about Billy,” Mark remembers saying. “I haven’t seen him since he got married senior year and moved off campus. But Chris lives here. He. We work for the same newspaper.”
“Oh! Well I’ll call him and set it up,” Dustin had chirped and then hung up, leaving Mark squinting at the phone before he tossed it toward the floor area. Then he’d fallen back into his pillows, legs spreading beneath the blankets and pulling the blankets over himself.
Of course, having his cell phone way on the other side of the room meant that he didn’t hear it when it went off. Or when the second alarm went off. Lacking a shower, dressed in a pair of sweatpants that Chris has forbidden him from wearing in the office, Mark is exhausted and he needs the train to just get here already. He’s half-sure that he’d dreamed up the entire phone call and that makes him all the more frustrated when he realizes there is a stain on the Harvard t-shirt he is wearing.
He gets to the office and ducks his head and rushes from the open door to his floor toward his office. At least one intern, who is soon to be out of a job if Mark has any say in the matter, whistles. And then there is slow clapping which is just so not how Mark needed his day to start. He fishes his keys from his pocket and scrambles to get the door open, all the while looking around for Prada and blond hair.
Mark gets into his office, throwing the door closed and then quickly shuffles behind his desk; dumping his bag and quickly trying to boot his computer. The door has been closed for all of a minute before it opens with Chris swinging inward along with it.
“What the hell, Mark -?”
“I know I have that interview,” Mark grumbles, moving stuff around his desk to appear busy while he waits for the computer to show him his log in screen. Chris closes the door behind him and then crosses his arms. He has a frown on his face and Mark knows there isn’t a second way out of the office.
“Then what the hell are you doing here? You were supposed to meet him at his hotel, I’ve already had to call him and reschedule.” Chris is coming closer, and for all of a second Mark contemplates grabbing his backpack up and either covering himself with it or brandishing it as a weapon when he makes a break for the door.
“What are you wearing?” Chris asks. Mark doesn’t know when he got so close, but he is standing over Mark’s shoulder.
“Clothing,” Mark quips and then shoves out of his chair. All that the action manages to do is put him on one side of his desk and with Chris on the opposite side. Unless they are prepared to act out some sort of cartoon scene, Mark doesn’t see anything but surrender as an option. Unfortunately.
Chris, in his grey slacks and his tucked-in shirt with vest, sighs long-sufferingly. He uncrosses his arms to lean on Mark’s desk and says, “I think Dan has a pair of slacks on right now that you could -”
Chris’ lips break into a smirk, and Mark. Mark smiles right back, despite himself. It’s easy doing this with Chris. Bantering and evading the point while Chris secretly tricks him into doing what he wants. Sure, in college Mark at least got sex out of the give and take and now he's stuck with his hand most of the time (dating takes effort and he rarely sees the point), but the feeling is still the same. Easy, and Mark won't say it out-loud especially not right now, but he's glad Chris managed to make “just friends” work.
“We’re going to take my car,” Chris relents. He waves at Mark to get his bag and then leads the way out of Mark’s office and toward the elevator Mark just burst through.
Dustin has to go check on the hotel security, again, and Eduardo watches him leave with the thought that most of Dustin’s job consists of him emulating the sort of activities that he has seen in action movies. But not because he has to. Eduardo sits up straight in the lobby chair and doesn’t think about how he’d only just gotten in from his flight and how when the editor, something Hughes, had called he had hoped to take a nap. Instead he’s wearing a suit not unlike the one he had actually worn on the plane, his hair is wet, and he could easily pass out in this surprisingly uncomfortable chair unintentionally. Then a man in a suit with a man in sweats close at his heels are walking toward Eduardo, smiling at him or looking disinterested respectively, but they don’t look like paparazzi so Eduardo sits up straighter and smiles back.
“Hello, Prince Eduardo?” Chris asks, reaching out his hand. For a second his face flashes with confusion, but he keeps his hand out-stretched even as a blush breaks out over his face.
“I’m Chris Hughes,” he says, and then he moves to gesture towards his companion. Only, the man has started to hedge away, face the picture of boredom as he starts staring at the light fixtures in the room. Eduardo watches a scowl flash very quickly over Chris’ face as he grabs for the man’s elbow. The man jumps and turns with his eyes narrowing in a glare as he looks at Chris. Something passes between them that results in a polite smile on Chris’ face and a scowl on his friend’s face.
“And this is Mark Zuckerberg.”
Eduardo smiles half-heartedly, expecting to be shrugged off. But Mark scrutinizes him. And then reaches out his hand to shake Eduardo’s hand.
“Do I have to call you ‘your highness’?” Mark asks. “Because that would get boring really quickly.”
"No," Eduardo says and he laughs, feeling like it was shocked out of him. He grins and adds, "You can call me Eduardo."
Mark nods and then moves towards the chair beside the one Eduardo was using. Mark pulls his backpack around onto his lap and starts rifling through it while Eduardo and Chris stand around watching; Eduardo looks to Chris for some sign of what to do and catches Chris rolling his eyes before he looks up and smiles at Eduardo. He nods towards Eduardo’s chair and then wanders away, leaving Eduardo at even more of a loss.
“Are you going to sit down?” Mark asks, too busy turning his laptop on to even look at Eduardo as he asks the question. Eduardo moves to sit, nearly slipping which is embarrassing but he catches himself with his hand on the armrest and Mark isn’t looking anyway. Eduardo perches on the edge of his chair, hands in his lap and his ankles crossed because otherwise he’ll start nervously jiggling his knees or wringing his hands, and princes don’t do that. Eduardo knows; he’s taken the princely lessons.
“What’s it like?” Mark asks.
“Being a prince? You learned of your heritage in … high school?” Mark asks, his eyes flicking across the screen before darting up to meet Eduardo’s.
“Did you just look me up on Wikipedia?” Eduardo shoots back, unable to hide the scandalized squawk that makes its way out of his mouth.
“Of course not,” Mark says, already looking at his computer again while his fingers move on the keys typing something, though Eduardo can’t fathom what since he hasn’t had the opportunity to say anything worth putting in a newspaper.
“You moved to Brazil before you could finish high school -”
“I know that, Mark -”
“Tell me about that. About finding out that you have a second family and all that,” Mark says with a wave of his hand and Eduardo narrows his eyes.
“Well I -” Eduardo stops. His cheeks are flushed, but he doesn’t think it’s completely because of how much this reporter is pissing him off. Mark looks up and Eduardo notices how blue his eyes are, watching as they soften as Mark just looks at Eduardo instead of giving him part of his attention while glancing back and forth. And the lines around his eyes go away. Eduardo’s tongue is too heavy in his mouth and he can’t really say anything. The question is already a landmine that Eduardo has been careful to avoid but.
“You didn’t finish college,” Mark says.
“Not yet. No.”
As he speaks, Eduardo clutches his fingers tighter together and stares at the wall behind Mark’s head so he doesn’t say something stupid. “It was difficult with the media. Constantly having the paparazzi around wasn’t just distracting for me, it was also distracting for my classmates. I didn’t think it was right to -”
“Bullshit,” Mark says. The lines are back around his eyes and his mouth is set in a frown. “Forget college. You barely interact with the public outside of the conferences your father sends you to even though you have the power to -”
“I don’t want to be king.”
“That isn’t what I was going to say,” Mark mumbles. His eyes drop back down to his computer, and Eduardo has lost his attention but he’s not going to sit there and let Mark do that to him.
“I never said I wanted to be king,” Eduardo stresses. His knuckles are white because he’s clutching them together to keep from running them through his hair. He can’t have Mark write something like that.
“I never said that either. I implied that you have power. The people of Brazil love you if the message boards and the number of fan sites, social networking sites and reblogged pictures of your face are any indication. From what I’ve read you have the capacity to do something with yourself.”
“It’s not the 1600s Eduardo. They don’t even call you the bastard prince even though they could.”
There’s an awkward silence between them and then Eduardo gives up on his self-control. He drags his hands through his hair as he breathes out shakily, refraining from leaning over and punching Mark as hard as he possibly can. Eduardo ducks his head when his fingers reach the back of his skull and just rests there, with his elbows on his knees.
“You’re an asshole,” Eduardo growls.
“Asshole? Really? Is that the best they teach you in prince school?”
When he looks up, Mark looks amused, and his cheeks are flushed like he’s embarrassed, teeth gnawing on his lips. Eduardo glares back, standing up from his chair and making to pace. He really wants to storm out of the room but, if things haven’t gone sideways already, having it written down and published that he had a temper tantrum is high up on a long list of things that would look bad for the whole family.
“Hey,” Mark says. “How long are you in New York?”
“What? Until tomorrow,” Eduardo says absently, busy pacing to the picture on the far side of the room and back. When he looks up to squint at Mark, Eduardo finds that he is being watched closely. Mark’s laptop is closed and he has his eyes narrowed.
“When was the last time you were in New York?”
“I don’t know, a while ago -”
“We should get lunch. Outside of this hotel. You’ll have to wear a disguise. Chris probably has a baseball cap somewhere -”
Eduardo breathes in through his nose and then says Mark’s name. Mark just keeps talking, proposing a good take-out place that would deliver just about anywhere, and Eduardo interrupts.
“What are you going on about?”
“Have you seen New York?” Mark asks. His tone speaks volumes, implying that Mark knows that Eduardo hasn’t, and that Eduardo is an idiot.
“No. I haven’t,” Eduardo says, stressing the words and hoping that Dustin will come back soon. “It’s not exactly easy. I have bodyguards following me always and that draws the attention of the paparazzi.”
“Then don’t bring your bodyguards.”
Mark says it like it’s simple and then packs up his laptop without looking at Eduardo. He slings the bag over his shoulder and then slides out of his chair. Mark is at the door that leads back out into the hotel lobby when he finally turns around and makes a face at Eduardo.
“Are you coming?”
When Mark turns his back to open the door, Eduardo looks around the room. With no one to turn to and no one to gesture wildly Eduardo ends up standing in place and dragging his fingers through his hair one more time before dropping them to shake them out in an unintentional shimmy. Then he sighs, nods his head quickly, and races out the door to catch up with Mark, calling him a thousand names in his head and hating himself for finding Mark compelling.
Chris is on the phone when Mark walks into the lobby. He has his head down and he is grinning as he talks, probably to Ian because Chris only grins like that when he’s feeling dopily in love, and it makes Mark smile to see it. A smile, barely on his lips, that he hides when he ducks his head and moves quickly toward the front doors, all the while hoping Eduardo is following suit and that Chris doesn’t look up and spot them.
They make it all the way to the revolving doors, Mark shoving Eduardo in ahead of him and then trying to squish in behind him as they shuffle around toward the open street, before Chris must look up. Mark just hears Chris shouting from behind him and starts shoving at Eduardo more. Eduardo, who hasn’t stopped hissing questions and telling him what a bad idea this is, shuts up long enough to stumble onto the street. He straightens his tie and Mark sets his eyes on the delivery boy pulling up to the curb riding a fire-engine red moped with matching side car.
Mark wraps his fingers around Eduardo’s arm and tugs him toward the delivery boy, nodding to him.
“Hey, kid, this is the Prince of Brazil and he needs to borrow your moped,” Mark says.
“I -” The kid stammers looking shell-shocked and frozen.
“Give him all of the cash you have on you,” Mark says to Eduardo, stealing the keys and helmet from the boy’s hands and already moving toward the moped.
“I don’t carry cash!” Eduardo barks back. But he does scramble around looking for identification, making faces at Mark while Mark stares back from where he is already seated on the moped, and revving the engine.
“I guess,” the kid mumbles, looking between Mark and Eduardo with confusion and terror, all while Eduardo scrambles with his stuff to keep from dropping it to the ground. If Mark hadn’t already known that Eduardo needed a day away from what has to be tiring pageantry, the nervous shift of his shoulders and the way he looks as if he’s anticipating being tackled makes it clear to Mark that this was a good decision.
Except Chris comes bursting out from the revolving doors looking furious. He has his phone brandished at his side and there are at least half a dozen people he could call to have Mark’s life ruined before he calls the cops to report Mark for stealing a moped and kidnapping a prince.
“Eduardo! Get on,” Mark orders, tossing the spare helmet from the sidecar to Eduardo has he leaves the delivery boy’s side and moves quickly toward Mark. Chris is still coming toward them moving even faster, and Mark really shouldn’t be surprised that Chris can jump into the sidecar of a moving vehicle.
“Put the helmet on, your hair is already a mess,” Chris growls at Eduardo, forgetting for a moment that Eduardo is a prince because he is too busy glaring at Mark. Mark can feel the heat of his gaze on the back of his neck as he finishes backing up and rolls up behind a taxi. His timing is perfect, just as they pull up inches behind the taxi the revolving doors open and two men in suits, that couldn't look anymore obviously like bodyguards, come running out while looking frantically around. At the same moment Eduardo makes a startled sound and ducks his face in against Mark's neck. His breath is hot against Mark's skin and Mark shivers, revving the engine unintentionally and just managing to stop from shooting into the back of the taxi.
“I know, Chris,” Mark grumbles, reversing by inches and then trying to wiggle over to the next lane.
“You know I drove us here in my car,” Chris starts to say before Mark interrupts him.
“I didn't actually invite you along.”
Mark keeps his words short, too busy trying to zip around moving cars without losing the sidecar in the process.
“Because you knew I would disapprove.”
“I'm not an idiot, Chris.”
Mark maneuvers them up toward the light, using the tips of his toes and the least amount of engine power he can to get them there without rear ending another vehicle. Eduardo is unintentionally rubbing his nose against the back of Mark's neck as he checks both sides of the street every few seconds. He's also brushing his lips against the skin of Mark's neck, but Mark is steadfastly ignoring that because he has Chris staring judgmentally at him from his right and no idea where to go from this light. He is trying to prioritize. Mark feels like he is thirteen again, he hasn't been this quickly attracted to someone in years, and he shouldn't be. Eduardo is shaping up to be the same sort of spoiled royal he had expected, even though Mark had hoped for better after reading the three articles Eduardo had written for his school newspaper when he was attending Yale. And when he'd first seen Eduardo Mark had thought he was attractive, in a business major in a suit sort of way.
“Max Brenner,” Chris says, seemingly out of the blue. Mark jerks and then turns to look at Chris who looks back at him, eye brow arched in a no-nonsense-look. “We should go to Max Brenner.”
“I hate that place,” Mark says looking away again. He shifts under Eduardo's lips and then says, somewhat reluctantly, “We're away from the hotel now, you can probably stop hiding.”
“Oh, sorry,” Eduardo says, leaning back but at least his arms stay wrapped around Mark's waist, his clasped hands tucked up against Mark's stomach. Mark swallows hard just as the light for the opposite direction goes from green to yellow.
“You've kidnapped me -”
“You weren't invited actually.”
“And the prince of Brazil, for some reason -”
“He implied that he wanted to show me New York,” Eduardo interjects.
“So we should take him to Max Brenner,” Chris says.
The light changes to green and Mark revs the engine instead of answering, heading in the right direction to get to Max Brenner and trying not to focus on the heat of Eduardo's body pressed against his. Though, that's easier said than done. Just when Mark thinks he's stopped thinking about it while they're idling in traffic, Eduardo shifts around so his arm brushes Mark's arm, or so his chest moves away from Mark's back by inches. And Mark shifts against him. It's been a while since Mark has gotten laid, but not so long that any touching should be affecting him this much, and yet he is half hard in his sweat pants and thinking up ways of making Eduardo angry again just to watch him mess up his hair in that way he did in the hotel. Because it was hot, and the next best thing to Mark getting to tangle his fingers in Eduardo's hair.
It's a thought that keeps straying to the forefront of his mind as they settle in at a table with the waiter handing out the menus. Chris and Eduardo get theirs open and are already eying the list while Mark sits there staring at Eduardo. He doesn't realize he's blanked out while staring at Eduardo's cheekbones until the waiter makes a coughing sound, drawing Mark’s attention. Mark blushes, scrambling to grab the menu out of the waiter's hands as his cheeks flush with a blush. He scans the menu as his cheeks get more and more heated. When he does let himself peek over the top of the menu, Eduardo is watching him, eyes crinkled and his own cheeks pinked. Mark doesn't get it, watching as Eduardo ducks his gaze back to his own menu and Mark starts chewing on his lower lip.
“You made 3000 dollars the summer before you attended Harvard,” Mark says. Chris squints at him before rolling his eyes and looking back at his menu. And Eduardo opens his mouth and then closes it before opening it once more in a slack-jawed fashion.
“I … did.”
“By betting on oil futures.”
Eduardo covers a smile with his water glass, holding it aloft with his pinkie raised just slightly from the surface of the glass. His fingers leave four marks in the condensation and Mark wishes he knew how to stop staring.
Halfway through his food Eduardo's smile starts to look strained and he finally leans close and asks, “Why do you keep staring at me?”
“You have something on your face,” Mark lies, blurting the words out and then spinning in his chair to look for the waiter and wave him down for the bill. From the corner of his eye he watches Eduardo flush, all wide-eyed and scrambling to wipe at his mouth with his napkin. There's a sharp kick to his ankle from the table. Mark looks at Chris and watches with a narrowing gaze as Chris mouths the words, 'You are an idiot.'
Eduardo has been called a romantic many times in his life. Mostly by exes, and in both positive and negative ways. He's always thought that love-at-first-sight and true love were real things that happened to ordinary people, but he's also fooled himself into thinking that a number of his girlfriends and boyfriends were the One that he's started to think that he doesn't fit the universe’s bill. If there is a soul mate for him out there, Eduardo thinks that they're probably better off far away from the media circus that is his life.
Or at least these were his preconceived notions about an ideal that he had when he woke up that morning. Eduardo was many things when the day began, tired and ready to crawl into bed. He was also absolutely certain that the reporter who had come to see him was an asshole.
But there's something about Mark that makes Eduardo smile. The man is biting, he is rude to the waiter in a way most people wouldn't dare to be for fear of having something done to their food. He flips through topics at break neck pace, and he stares.
And when they are stopped at a light, the moped humming under them as it waits in idle for the light to go from red to green, Mark reaches down from time to time and runs his fingers over Eduardo's wrists as if to make sure he's still there. He tells Eduardo to hang on before revving the engine and shooting out after the cars in front of them, merging in a darting manner with the mess of tightly meshed traffic.
“Where are we going,” Eduardo shouts into Mark's ear. He feels Mark flinch and runs his fingers over Mark's torso in apology, too afraid to be thrown off if he lets go any more than that. He can't hear himself over the air passing by and doesn't want to yell again, but he almost does when his well-meaning touch to Mark's stomach causes another flinch to jolt through Mark's body to be felt against Eduardo's chest.
“Union Square,” Mark yells back before Eduardo can apologize. Eduardo nods against the back of Mark's neck finding that without sunglasses, the next best thing to keep his eyes from stinging is to press his nose to the collar of Mark's shirt. Mark smells like a faint musk that is his own and the remnants of body gel from whenever he last bathed; he smells like old spice and Eduardo can't help it if he holds tighter to Mark.
Mark sits up straighter in Eduardo's arms, putting them flush chest to back.
Eduardo isn't expecting the sight that greats them at Union Square. There are tables and canvas tents everywhere, and it's not as if Eduardo has never seen a farmer’s market before, but the fact that Mark brought him here makes him grin wildly. He only just ducks his head at the last minute and stops Mark from seeing it.
He stares around, nearly spinning around in circles as he takes in the sight of the crowds without feeling the claustrophobia of being the unwilling center of it all. Eduardo turns to watch as Chris gets out of the sidecar and shakes out his legs. Eduardo isn't expecting the clench of his heart or the way his smile drops like rain from his face as he watches Mark put a hand on Chris' shoulder to steady him, and how Chris put his hand on Mark's elbow as he smiles at him. He says something to Mark that makes Mark blush, toeing the pavement while the heat drains from Eduardo's face. There is an obvious ease to them and Eduardo wants in that very second to get to touch Mark like that.
He knows he's in over his head when the thought catches up to him.
Mark leaves Chris' side to hurry over to Eduardo.
“I-” Eduardo starts to say.
“How did you make 3000 dollars betting on oil futures?” Mark asks. He wraps his fingers around Eduardo's elbow and tugs him along with him in a direction he seems to know well. Eduardo’s lips open and close, and before he knows it Mark's hand has left his elbow and is tucked into the pockets of his sweats.
“I watched the weather channel,” Eduardo admits.
Mark looks at him in surprise.
“If you know the weather patterns, you can estimate the prices of oil during certain seasons. Is Chris your boyfriend?”
“Cool – no. Wait. No, Chris and I aren't together,” Mark says from Eduardo's elbow. His eyes are wide and Eduardo busies himself looking at produce so he doesn't smile at the way the skin around Mark's nose is starting to wrinkle in confusion.
“We're just friends. I've known him since Harvard.”
“You touch a lot.”
“He's Chris,” Mark says, like that explains it all. Then he starts to nudge up against Eduardo's side, asking if he really likes carrots that much or if they can look at another tent. Eduardo shrugs to be annoying, but follows Mark when he pivots and starts to shuffle off in another direction. Eduardo catches up and presses his hand against the small of Mark's back, pressing him out of his slouch unintentionally, not expecting it when Mark straightens under his touch. At least he doesn't tell Eduardo to back off so Eduardo keeps his hand there.
Eduardo explains his love of weather patterns to Mark as he looks through t-shirts with hand-painted sayings. He runs his fingers over the raised paint and watches Mark watch him from the corner of his eye. Mark has his lower lip between his teeth and his fingers fiddling with t-shirts as he moves steadily closer to Eduardo's side. Eduardo asks about his job, how he likes being a reporter and Mark pulls a face as his fingers brush against Eduardo's. They are shoulder to shoulder.
“It's convenient,” Mark admits. “I went to Harvard and studied computer science, but my job offers fell through. Chris needed someone at the paper at the same time that I needed somewhere to stay in New York.”
Mark shrugs and then moves around Eduardo to the next table.
“What do you want to be doing?”
“I could ask the same of you,” Mark shoots back. That lower lip gets sucked between his teeth again and his eyes shine at Eduardo from across the booth of glass figurines and wind chimes. “I have an idea for a website, actually.”
Eduardo opens his mouth to ask what it is and Mark starts to grin at him.
Then Chris reappears from taking another call. His cheeks are flushed and he lays a hand on Mark's shoulders as he says a quick greeting to Eduardo. Eduardo hyper-focuses on the way Chris' fingers run along the collar of Mark's shirt.
“I'm gonna head out. Ian is coming by to pick me up and then I'm going to go get my car from outside Eduardo's hotel before someone has it impounded because I'm a fugitive in the kidnapping of royalty. Don't forget to return the moped to that poor delivery boy, and get to work on time tomorrow.”
There's something to the way that Chris smiles at Mark before he starts heading back toward where they parked the moped that has Eduardo rounding the table to Mark's side.
“It's not really kidnapping if you went willingly,” Mark grumbles out, chin tipping upward so he can keep eye contact with Eduardo as Eduardo gets closer. And Eduardo leans down, brushing his lips against Mark's in a moment of what can only be called insanity.
“Oh,” Mark says and he thinks about mentioning that Chris had predicted this exact action and then thinks better of it. He follows Eduardo as he starts to move from one table to another like he wants to get away from what he just did. And Mark wants him to do it again so clearly some sort of resolution has to be made.
“Do you want to go get something to eat,” he asks, burying both hands in his pockets as he watches Eduardo trip over himself before turning right back around.
“We just got food,” Eduardo says. His eyes are so big, Mark thinks as he watches them seem to light up as they look Mark over. It's the sort of look that makes Mark want to shrink in on himself and stand straight up simultaneously, but for once he just holds still and watches.
“Yeah. We could go dancing?”
“I suck at dancing,” Eduardo says. A smile is cracking over his attempt at a poker face, or Mark guesses that's what it was meant to be, but now he think that maybe Eduardo's shouldn't go into politics if he can't keep his emotions from swimming around in his big Bambi eyes.
“That's. That's good,” Mark stammers. “Me too.”
“We could just stay here a bit longer,” Eduardo proposes and he is coming closer now. He has his right hand out and Mark stares at it, wondering if they are about to shake on this proposition. But when he reaches out Eduardo switches hands in an awkward moment that has them both murmuring excuses, and then Eduardo laces their fingers together. He pulls Mark in close and adds, “And then we could go back to my hotel if you want. We can get room service.”
Mark doesn't bother shrugging, knowing his cheeks are too red to pull of nonchalance.
By the time they leave Union Square the weather has cooled off. The ride back to the hotel is chilly and Eduardo makes Mark wear his blazer and then tucks his arms up under the two layers of clothing on Mark's chest. Covering Mark's ribs with his hands, Eduardo feels giddy enough to ignore the chill on his arms as Mark races, weaving around cars in a speed that could end with them losing the side car.
Luckily, Chris has gone home to have dinner with his fiancé who is, according to Mark, very nice. He's in politics but thinking of going back to school to become a teacher even though with Chris at his side they could do just about anything. Eduardo kisses the back of Mark's neck now and feels slightly less like he's going to suddenly have to crawl out of his skin to get away from being stared down by Mark's disinterested blue eyes. There is still another shoe to drop, but Mark giggles helplessly when Eduardo pinches his sides at stop lights.
“Don't,” Mark says helplessly, wiggling around on the seat while a taxi driver makes faces at them.
They are both punch drunk when they get up to Eduardo's penthouse. Mark is pink from the cold even with the borrowed jacket and Eduardo wants to pull him into the bed and wrap him up in the covers and kiss him until he's breathless. With the fingers of one hand tangled in the hem of Mark's sweats, Eduardo starts pulling him toward the bedroom.
“You promised me food,” Mark teases, drawing lines on the skin of Eduardo's arm. His lips are red from sucking on them and chewing on them and Eduardo wonders if they are as soft as they look.
“They were going to bring me dinner anyway,” Eduardo says. “I ordered it when I checked in, but you can share it with me.”
Eduardo settles on the edge of the bed, tugging until Mark stumbles and settles between his spread legs. With a hand on the back of Mark's neck, Eduardo pulls Mark down to his level and presses a chaste kiss to Mark's lips, starting slow. And Mark gasps, fingers coming up to run through Eduardo's hair.
Mark is so responsive, making small sounds as he opens his lips against Eduardo's. His fingers curl in Eduardo's hair and with the right pressure, Mark lets Eduardo pull him down so he is lying on Eduardo's chest as they exchange soft kisses, fingers exploring the folds of each other’s' clothing. Just as he slides his tongue over Mark's parted lips, Mark stomach gives a rumble and there is a knock at the door.
Eduardo drops his head back against the bed with a laugh.
“I'll get that, shall, I your highness?” Mark teases. He shoves at Eduardo’s chest and trips to his feet. With a grumble, he kicks his flip-flops in two different directions in Eduardo's bedroom, making Eduardo laugh harder. He rolls onto his side with it, watching Mark disappear around the corner toward where the door is, listening to the slap of his bare feet on the tile in the sitting room.
Then there is a scream, “YOU KIDNAPPED THE PRINCE!” and Eduardo sits up. He scrambles off the bed, falling to his stomach on the floor before finding his feet and sliding around the corner to where Dustin has Mark pinned to the floor.
“Mark?!” Dustin shrieks in Mark's ear.
“Why did you kidnap the prince?”
“When did you become a bodyguard?”
“Dustin can you get off him?”
“You promised this wouldn't be Vienna again!”
Dustin sounds slightly hysterical and he actually glares at Eduardo as he helps Mark up from the floor.
“What's Vienna?” Mark asks as Eduardo exclaims, “I know, but I didn't actually plan for this to happen!”
Then a bell boy appears in the open door with a cart and the dinner Mark and Eduardo had been expecting.
After Dustin has calmed down and stolen all of the bread rolls, Eduardo coaxes Mark back to the bed with the cart dragged along with them. It sits beside the bedside table while Mark and Eduardo, stripped down to undershirts and boxers in moments of blushing embarrassment that Mark had broken with a declaration of 'fuck it' before stripping and crawling under the covers. Their fingers keep getting tangled as they meet on each other’s skin and beneath each other’s clothing. There is a bruise forming around Mark's left eye and every few minutes Eduardo interrupts and tuts at it, or presses his lips to it.
“So this facebook, it'd be like an online directory?”
Mark snorts and says, “No. It's social interaction. You put up pictures to show where you’ve been and stuff. Personal information, interests, schools you've attended or are attending. The dating world, but so you can find that guy you met at a bar who you didn't get his number because he had a wedding to run to. Relationship status.”
Eduardo hums, ducking his head and tucking it under Mark's chin.
“It sounds amazing,” Eduardo says wholeheartedly as he purposefully tangles his fingers with Mark's.
“You're a sap and a cuddler, aren't you?” Mark accuses, though he has no legs to stand on. Not when he is running his free hand up and across Eduardo's chest. Eduardo keeps turning his head to press his lips against Mark's chest.
Mark is almost too warm with Eduardo breathing hot against his skin and with Eduardo's legs tossed and tangled with his own. He isn't used to sleeping with someone else, but he isn't uncomfortable. The feeling of Eduardo running his ankle and down along his leg raises goosebumps on his skin and Eduardo's fingers keep catching on spots on Mark's skin, running along the grooves of Mark's ribs and repeating the motion when it elicits a reaction from Mark.
Eduardo's mouth catches Mark's.
“I thought you were an asshole,” he tells Mark between pecks. He's smiling, making kissing difficult so he nuzzles Mark's throat, nipping at the soft skin beneath Mark's chin.
“I-I am an asshole,” Mark laughs. “I thought you were spoiled.”
Eduardo leans back squinting at him and Mark just shrugs. He waits for Eduardo to stop scrutinizing him, waits for the little chuckle and the crinkling of Eduardo's eyes before Mark surges up to nip at Eduardo's lower lip.
They keep exchanging kisses until Eduardo starts yawning against Mark's throat. His dark eyelashes play shadows on his cheek bones and just before he lays his head down and closes his eyes, Eduardo sucks at Mark's collarbone. Then he runs a hand down toward Mark's hip, over his boxers to the bottom of the fabric at Mark's knee and up under the fabric so his hand is on Mark's bare thigh.
They wake up knotted up in the sheets, Eduardo head on Mark's chest and one of Mark's hands in Eduardo's hair. It's the most chaste night Mark has spent with another person since high school when sleep overs stopped being things between friends. But Eduardo is running his thumb over Mark's knuckles, absently, and staring at the ceiling. Mark makes a sound, stretching what he can with their limbs overlapping.
“Sorry,” Eduardo says. “I have to fly back to Florida in a few hours. Room service should be coming with breakfast soon.”
He draws Mark's hand up and kisses it because he appears to be going for cliché prince charming. Mark pulls his hand away from Eduardo's reach and says as much, grinning and shoving until he has Eduardo on his back beside him.
“You are such an asshole,” Eduardo informs him as Mark rolls over to lay on top of him. Eduardo wraps his arms around Mark's back and hums contentedly while Mark sucks a matching hickey into Eduardo's collar.
“We can't all be princes.”
Breakfast is an easy affair, sitting on the couches in the lounge area of the suit and watching Mark eat even though Dustin is bemoaning their so called love-struck looks. Mark's curly hair is a mess and he's slower now than he was yesterday. His biting remarks to Dustin come slower than they should, but his eyes are bright. Mark blushes easier too, his cheeks nearly perpetually red because Eduardo doesn't stop staring at him while he eats. Eduardo doesn't mind at all, willing to withstand the napkins Dustin is throwing at his head and the way Mark glares at him just so he can look alternately at Mark's lips and the sucked in hickey that isn't hidden in the slightest by the stretched out collar of Mark's shirt from the day before.
Then things start to move fast.
Everyone starts packing up to ready for the airport. Eduardo dresses and then packs his bags, glad that his stylist isn't here to see him half-heartedly fold his suits back into the suitcase. He's also glad she isn't there so Mark wouldn't have anything more to mock him about from where he's sitting on the edge of the bed already mocking Eduardo.
“Why do I like you,” Eduardo asks him after being treated to a cutting comment about the amount of clothing he brought for a two day trip. He points at Mark and narrows his eyes as he adds, “It's not the sex because I haven't even gotten to see you naked yet.”
Mark goes as red as Dustin's hair and glares silently at him. But at least he stops commenting on the amount of baggage being removed from the room to wait in the lobby.
“Meet you in the lobby in twenty minutes,” Dustin's voice rings through the suite. And Eduardo sighs. Between Max Brenner and Union Square, Mark had only taken him to a handful of other places, non of them the sort of tourist traps that Eduardo's knows are cheesy but still wants to see. He wants an I ♥ New York shirt even though he'll never wear it. He wants to see what Mark's apartment looks like and he wants to actually get to know Mark beyond the information he was able to wrangle out of him in the 20 hours they had together.
“You have to come back.”
Eduardo tries not to look surprised when Mark says that, stating it like there is no question to the manner. His jaw might drop a little when Mark comes to his side to grab Eduardo last bag and snake his hand into Eduardo's.
They hold hands all the way to the revolving door. The taxi is waiting outside and so is Dustin with the poor bodyguards that had raced after them when they'd made their getaway. Eduardo stops them at the door. He can tell from the way that Dustin keeps checking around him even though he's trying to keep a happy face as he jokes with the other bodyguards that there are a few paparazzi waiting around outside for him to appear. Mark doesn't know him, not that well Eduardo thinks, and it's a lot to ask a guy to be in a relationship with a public figure (not even pressing the issue of Eduardo's ridiculously extended family.)
“I really like you,” he starts to tell Mark, tugging him away from the sight of the windows.
“You keep saying -”
“But if you don't think that you'd be interested in something -”
“Don't be dumb.” Mark bobs up on his toes and kisses Eduardo soundly. “I've already put my number and email address in your phone while you weren't looking.”
Mark kisses him again outside, after the driver puts Eduardo's last bag in the trunk and just before Eduardo slides into the backseat. Predictably camera flashes go off and there are catcalls to the crowd, and they must make a picture with Mark in his sweats from the day before and Eduardo in his pressed suit. But Eduardo doesn't mind. He might actually buy a copy of the paper with the best version of the print to tease Mark with later.
February 14, 2012
NOTICE TO CEASE & DESIST
Dear Harvey Levin, TMZ, and employees.
It has come to the attention of the Royal Family of Brazil that you have been running stories about Mark Zuckerberg, friend of the royal family and consort to Eduardo Renaldo Ricardo Julio Saverin Prince of Brazil. We wish for you to cease and desist in the running of your current stories about the parties mentioned above.
All parties involved are aware of whom your alleged anonymous source is, and Mister Zuckerberg and Prince Eduardo (et. al) Saverin demand that use of their information be stricken and that they no longer be rewarded for their information. They also demand that no amount of threats on the part of your anonymous source when interrupting them while alone to “report this
cute situation to TMZ” allows him to do so. Nor does his permission to use and trademark “Princess Zuck” stand up in court.
Signed: Marylin Delpy, legal representative for the Royal Family of Brazil