A few weeks after the dramatic rescue, Mark Watney and the crew of Ares 3 slipped to the number two trending topic on Twitter, ousted by a dog whose bark sounded like the word “potato.” So Mark made the mistake of snapping a selfie in his bunk. All in all, it was a simple shot, with the caption “dr. bossy beck still won't let me see the dog video. Apparently dogtatoes could cause 'severe mental trauma+anguish.'” He posts it, and yet another internet shitstorm explodes.
Because, clearly visible in the selfie, there was an open box of condoms on the shelf behind him.
“Who the fuck is fucking Mark Watney?!” Annie Montrose roared to the meeting room. “Mitch! Do you know who's fucking Mark Watney?”
“No, Annie, I'm sorry,” Mitch replied, barely able to cover his grin. “I don't know who's fucking Mark Watney.”
“Well, somebody find the hell out before Twitter does!” Annie paused. “Or worse....Fox News.”
The room shudders.
It was after Mark finally fell asleep after a whole twenty-four hours of worrying about his loved ones being dragged through the media mud that the rest of the crew convene a secret meeting in the common area. They sat around staring at each other in silence, before Vogel finally utters a single word.
Slowly, everyone else nods.
“Spartacus,” the crew of Ares 3 murmurs softly.
“I'm fucking Mark Watney!” Martinez declares gleefully to the Go Pro.
“He's fucking Mark Watney,” Mark Watney confirms, having turned the camera on his own face temporarily.
“We're fucking Mark Watney!” Beck and Johanssen sing together, surprisingly harmoniously.
“They're fucking Mark Watney,” Mark Watney confirms. “I'm sorry but it's true.”
“I'm fucking Mark Watney,” Vogel declares with as much passion as he can muster for anything that is not telemetry.
“He's fucking Mark Watney,” Mark Watney confirms.
“And I'm fucking Watney too!” Commander Melissa Lewis trills in a sweet soprano. Everyone dances around in zero-g for another ten seconds before the video ends.
“We are never going into space again,” Teddy sighs.
“They can't all be possibly fucking Mark Watney.” Annie sounds like she really, really wants to believe it. “Eventually, someone's going to let it slip who's fucking Mark Watney.”
“On the bright side,” Kapoor begins, to everyone's groans. “Ares 3 is number-one on all the social media.”
The world is clamoring for more video from the Hermes. The crew decides Vogel, having come up with what they are calling The Spartacus Maneuver, should go first.
He waits until Mark has fallen asleep on his lap (Dr. Beck had prescribed as much physical contact as possible to restore his psyche and to keep him away from everyone else's experiments) before flipping open his laptop.
He shoots a video that is one solid minute of him muttering incomprehensible German while petting Mark's hair. Then he looks directly into the camera and utters a single word in English.
The media camps out on Vogel's family's lawn. His kids snipe them with Super Soakers filled with red Kool-Aid until they run away.
Frau Vogel is very proud.
“In space, there are no laws about bigamy,” Beth declares to all of Vine while using the lack of gravity to assist her in grabbing the perky astronaut butts of both Chris and Mark.
On Earth, Annie Montrose starts popping Excedrin.
“Now, while I have never condoned fraternization among members of any crew I have had the honor of leading, I simply could not deny the passion between me and Mark,” Melissa Lewis says very seriously, filming herself in the common area with full commanding insignia visible on her shoulders. “After all, we have so many things in common. We love things that come from the earth. Plants. Rocks. Plus, we have the same taste in music, which is so important to a lasting union.”
“I hate you!” Mark's shout echoes from elsewhere on the ship.
Lewis leans into the camera, mouthing “No, no he doesn't.”
The media camps outside of Lewis' house. Her husband blasts disco out the windows until the media flees in terror.
Martinez posts a seventeen-second video on Twitter of him making out with Mark. There are tongues, and moaning.
It is banned as pornography in seventeen countries and causes a bigger explosion than an actual explosion aboard the Hermes would.
The media camps outside of Martinez's house.
“Mrs. Martinez! Mrs. Martinez! What was your reaction to the explicit video your husband posted just hours earlier?” one unfortunate reporter shouted at her when she came out to water her bougainvillea.
“If you think that was explicit, you should see what I'm going to do to them when they get home,” Marissa Martinez declares.
“Can you elaborate on that?” yells the Buzzfeed guy.
Marissa Martinez grins.
“'I'm going to [expletive] him and his sexy white-boy Martian [expletive], and then I'm going to pour peanut butter on my husband's [expletive] and [expletive] him right in the [expletive] with my [expletive],” Kapoor sighs as he reads aloud the front page of the New York Times.
Annie takes a four-hour nap in her office with a cold compress over her eyes. Nobody disturbs her.
The funny thing is, once the crew is back on Earth, nobody can still figure out who is fucking Mark Watney. The only person Annie manages to rule out is Teddy, and that's only because she spends so much time with him she would notice if he sneaked off.
Speaking of sneaking off, once the requisite photo ops were finished and Mark had finally (finally!) reunited with his parents (another excellent photo op, a balm for Annie's waning sanity), former Commander Lewis put Mark in a trunk marked “geology samples” and sneaked him right the hell out from under NASA's nose and put him where nobody would find him.
“I should thank you properly for saving my life,” Mark says, trying to get comfortable on the futon.
“No problemo,” Rich Purnell replies, still typing on his laptop.
“Perhaps sexual favors?” Mark proposes.
“Nah thanks. I got Tim for that,” Rich replies without looking up. “Unless we can do it in a space shuttle. If you can get me into a space shuttle, we can bone.”
“NASA won't even let me ride Space Mountain,” Mark sighs.
“Welp, guess you won't be riding the Purn. Too bad.” Rich goes back to his typing.
There are a few minutes of silence.
“This futon sucks,” Mark grumbles.
Mindy Park, known to the internet as @PicturePerfectPark, posts a photo of herself and a white male ass that she heavily implies to be Mark Watney's.
The media immediately digs up her history of blatant lesbianism.
“Who the hell wouldn't jump at the chance to bone the only human to have survived on Mars?” is her official statement to the press. “Pretty sure even Ellen Degeneres would go temporarily hetero for Mark Watney.”
The spokeswoman for the former president confirms that, yes, Ms. Degeneres would certainly go temporarily hetero for Mark Watney should he be interested.
(Nobody ever finds out, but the ass belongs to Brendan Hatch.)
Mitch and Mark are photographed at a fancy Italian restaurant. The meal is good, no potatoes whatsoever, and when they leave, there are several paparazzi shots of Mitch's hand comfortable on Mark Watney's ass.
Annie sobs into her yoga mat.
“Who is it?” she cries. “Who is fucking Mark Watney? Are they all fucking Mark Watney? Is everyone but me fucking Mark Watney?”
“Let your questions go,” the yogi soothes. “Let them out into the universe.”
“Who is fucking Mark Watney,” she whispers one more time, furiously, before giving up and focusing on Ares 4.
The answer, of course, is simple and not nearly so debauched.
Mark moves down the street from Beth and Chris. He spends a lot of time with them. When the baby arrives, it only makes sense for Mark to move in with them – after all, it takes a village to raise a child, especially Cecelia W. Johanssen-Beck, who has the most nocturnal schedule possible. But so does Mark, so it works out.
While Beth and Chris sleep, Mark holds the kid. She settles down in his arms. He points out the stars to her, the constellations, the galaxies. He tells her about his nightmares and how it is okay to be afraid. He vows to her to always protect her, and then, whens he's ready, to give her the ability to protect herself. He also promises to never make her eat potatoes.
“I shouldn't be telling you this,” he whispers down to the infant one night. “But you deserve to know.” He pauses. “This is prime knowledge, CeCe. Do you know how many reporters would kill for this? All of them. All of them would kill to know the truth I am about to impart.”
Cece giggles. Mark smiles.
“Miss Beck-Johanssen, your parents are fucking Mark Watney.”