Mark opens the door to a good-looking boy with a suitcase in one hand, a briefcase slung over the opposite shoulder.
"Hi," he says. "Is this the Zuckerberg residence?"
Mark shuts the door in his face.
He makes his way back to his room; on the way his mother comes out and says, "Honey, who was that?"
"Some kid," Mark says. "Asking if this is the Zuckerberg residence."
"What did you say?"
Mark shrugs and goes back to his bedroom, because there's no reason good looking guys should be anywhere near his house. It's probably a mistake--and anyway, Mark shuts the door in the faces of Randi's boyfriends all the time. Maybe he's another one of them.
"Mark!" his mother clucks indignantly, before making his way downstairs. Mark ignores her, and ignores the weird tug of want in his stomach when he thinks of that guy. No reason to be near his house. None at all.
Minutes later, there's a knocking at Mark's bedroom door.
"No one's here," Mark says.
His mother ignores him and opens the door, and says, "And that's Mark - come on, Mark, meet Eduardo."
"Who the," Mark grunts, spinning around in his chair.
And there's the good-looking guy, standing in Mark's doorway and smiling. "It's nice to meet you, Mark," good-looking guy says.
"He'll be staying in this guest room," Mark's mom says, gesturing to the room across from Mark.
Mark blinks. "What?"
"Oh, don't tell me you forgot," his mother says. "Remember when I signed us up to be a foreign exchange host family? Well, here's who we're hosting." She pats Eduardo on the back.
"I see," Mark says, and turns back to his computer before any of them can notice him blushing.
Behind him, he hears his mother sigh. "He's always like that," she tells Eduardo.
Mark's to drive Eduardo to and from school with him, which Mark's mom tells Mark in the morning.
In Mark's car, Eduardo shifts uncomfortably.
"So," he says. "What do you like, Mark?"
Mark allows his gaze to meet Eduardo's incredulously. "What do I like?" he repeats, trying to ignore the real intimacy that's their eye contact.
Eduardo shrugs. "Yeah. What can I learn about you?"
Mark doesn't know how to answer that. "I like coding," he says. "Computers. Math."
"Oh!" Eduardo brightens up. "I like math, too. What class are you taking?"
"AP Calculus BC." Mark internally curses at the skip in his chest at the sight of Eduardo smiling.
Eduardo nods. "I'll have to see what I'm taking when I get my schedule," he says. "Maybe we're taking the same class."
It's their first period, and Mark leads them there but says nothing; Eduardo does most of the talking, even when they're in the classroom. Then Eduardo laughs and scratches the back of his head. "I'm probably being annoying to you, aren't I?"
"You're not," Mark says honestly. He's trying not to get too distracted by the line of Eduardo's neck.
Eduardo sits with him at lunch, and meets Chris and Dustin. "So this is the American high school cafeteria," he says, looking around.
"Yep," Dustin says. "And it's as Mean Girls as you think it is. Wait - do they have Mean Girls in Brazil?"
Chris rolls his eyes. "Of course they do, Dustin."
Eduardo widens his eyes. "I've never heard of Mean Girls before," he says, and Chris, Mark, and Dustin look at him with surprise.
Eduardo retains the expression before cracking up.
"I can't believe you fucked with us," Chris says, and Dustin says, "Welcome to the group, man."
Eduardo sends Mark a smile and says, "I'm glad to be here."
After Mark's driven them home, he hesitates as Eduardo takes off his shoes (he unlaced them; Mark merely forced and slips his on already tied). He decides to take the chance.
"Want to do homework with me?" Mark asks.
Eduardo looks up at him, surprised. But then a smile breaks across his face. "Of course," he says. "In your room?"
Mark nods mutely, and leads them to his bedroom. Eduardo looks around, and Mark says, "You can take the bed. I'll be at my desk."
"Okay," Eduardo says, looking bemused.
Mark tries not to think too hard about Eduardo being on his bed. It's just a homework thing, that's all.
They don't speak much, though when they're doing their math homework, they check their answers against each other, even though Mark knows his are all right. But Eduardo's are identical to his, and Eduardo smiles when they discover this.
The newest things about Eduardo living house are:
- Mark having to share his bathroom with another boy, and
- Mark knowing far too much about his middle sister's romantic attempts.
Mark's oldest sister is a neat freak so the bathroom is usually clean; and as it turns out, Eduardo is kind of a neat freak too.
So that's not the different part. What's different is that Mark can hear it when Eduardo showers, right next to his room, Eduardo's naked body so close to his and only blocked by the wall in between. Mark rolls onto his side and tries not to think about too much about it.
But the other thing is that Mark's middle sister seems to have formed a crush on Eduardo.
Mark wants to tell her to fuck off, except she would tell their parents and also figure out that Mark's interested in Eduardo, which Mark has no intention of letting anyone knowing. His sister peers into Mark's room too many times while they're doing homework, blushing whenever Eduardo talks to her over dinner, and, once, offers him the last pancake on her plate.
Eduardo knows, but he takes it in stride, which almost makes it even worse. Mark can't believe that his thirteen year old sister is getting more action than him, and that's probably the most depressing part.
Eduardo gets partnered up with Erica Albright for an art project, which Mark discovers one afternoon when Eduardo comes up to him, chatting with Erica.
"Mark," Eduardo says. Mark tries to look at him instead of Erica, but that isn't easy either since he's pretty sure if he looks at Eduardo he won't want to stop. "This is Erica, I - "
"We know each other," Erica says shortly, nodding at Mark.
Eduardo looks between them with confusion. "Okay," he says. "Well, we have a project, so I was wondering Mark, if Erica could come over - if you can drive her - "
"Sure," Mark says, before Erica can say anything. "I can do that."
"Great," Eduardo says, though he still looks confused.
Mark drives them home. Eduardo sits in the back with Erica and talks with her the whole time, both of them ignoring Mark. Mark isn't upset; he wouldn't expect Erica to be interested in talking to him.
When they're back at Mark's house, Eduardo says, "I - we'll be doing homework in the kitchen, I guess."
"Sure," Mark mutters, before up to his room.
He hears Erica leave around five. Then there are footsteps coming upstairs, and a gentle knocking at his door.
"What?" Mark says, spinning around in his chair.
Eduardo looks bashful as he ducks in. "Sorry," he says. "I didn't realize you and Erica were exes."
Mark stares at him. "She told you."
"Well," Eduardo says. "Yeah."
Mark shakes his head and goes back to his computer. "It's okay, it doesn't matter," he says. "You're allowed to make friends with whoever you want."
"I know, Mark," Eduardo says gently. "I'm just apologizing for making things awkward."
"I'm okay with awkward," Mark says. He's not sure if he's okay with sharing Eduardo, though.
But it's inevitable. Eduardo makes more friends.
He still sits with Mark at lunch though.
In fact, he brings his friends over to Mark's table. Christy and Erica and Alice and Cameron and Tyler and Divya. Mark doesn't even know when Eduardo had time to make other friends.
Well, probably at his classes.
"There's a Halloween party next week," Christy says down the table. "Who's going?"
"Ooh, I am definitely," Dustin says eagerly.
"We'll have to, it's at our house," says one of the Winklevosses. Mark doesn't know how to tell them apart yet.
Erica, Chris, and Alice say they're going, Erica and Alice sending each other sidelong glances.
Eduardo says, "Mark, are we going?"
"You can go," Mark says. "I don't see what that has to do with me."
Eduardo sends him a crooked smile. "I'm staying at your house, remember?"
Mark swallows. That's all? he wants to ask, even though, well, that is all. He's Eduardo's ride.
Then Eduardo adds, "And I don't know if you've noticed, but you're kind of my best friend here."
"Aw," Dustin coos.
Chris shoots him a look; but Mark's stomach is fluttering. "Okay," he decides.
"Okay?" Eduardo asks, confused.
"Okay, we can go to the Halloween party."
"Zuckerberg comes out of his cave!" Dustin says enthusiastically, and Chris shoves a spoonful of mashed potatoes in his mouth to get him to shut up.
Mark only knows the people who sits with him at lunch at the party. Everyone else is a stranger, and he follows Eduardo to the punch bowl.
"It's probably spiked," Mark says, as Eduardo gets a drink.
Eduardo sends him a grin. "Duh," he says. "Want one?"
Mark shrugs. "Sure."
Some people are in costumes; Mark and Eduardo are not. There's a game of seven minutes in heaven going on, and Mark spends seven minutes arguing about music programs with Sean Parker. Eduardo gets locked in with Christy, and even though none of Christy's bright red makeup is visibly on Eduardo's face, Eduardo's still blushing, immediately making Mark suspicious.
It's two am when Mark decides they should get home. He sobers up on seven cups of water, burps, and then says to Eduardo, "We should go."
Eduardo giggles into him. "I like it when you're the responsible one," he says, still drunk. "Okay. Bye everyone."
"Bye Wardo," Dustin slurs, passing him by.
Mark and Eduardo get back to Mark's house. Mark expects Eduardo to go back to the guest room, but in the hallway between their rooms, Eduardo wraps himself around Mark. They're hugging, it registers in Mark's brain, even though Mark isn't really hugging back.
He touches the small of Eduardo's back.
"I miss home," Eduardo says quietly.
"Oh," Mark says. He hadn't noticed.
"I like making friends, but it's." Eduardo tucks his face into Mark's neck. "I miss the beach and the warmth."
Mark doesn't know what to say. "It is really fucking cold in New York," he says, doing his best at patting Eduardo comfortingly.
Eduardo laughs against Mark's collarbone. "Yeah," he says. "Well, um. Goodnight Mark."
He goes back to his guest room. Mark stands there and doesn't know what to do.
The next week, Mark and Eduardo are doing homework in Mark's room when Eduardo's phone rings.
"I've got to take this," Eduardo says, looking at the caller ID. Mark nods and lets him go. Eduardo exits his room.
Outside, Mark can still hear Eduardo's side of things. It's a lot of Portuguese, but then:
"... I know, Pai. Thank you. Yeah, America's - okay. Miss you too. Okay - Mãe - " and then more Portuguese, before " - eu te amo, love you too. Yeah, I - thanks Mãe."
When he comes back into the room, his eyes are shiny. Mark turns around like he hadn't noticed. He hears Eduardo sniff and wipe his face.
"Do you miss your family?" he asks Eduardo, not looking up.
Eduardo's voice is small when he says, "Yeah."
Mark wonders if Eduardo remembers a couple of weeks ago, in the hallway after the Halloween party. His brain goes to work.
The idea comes to him a few days later, and he gets ready. Then when Mark is driving the both of them home, he says to Eduardo in the passenger seat, "We're going to take a quick detour."
"What?" Eduardo says, jolting. "Mark, what do you mean?"
"We're not going home," Mark says. He'd already printed out the directions on Mapquest.
"Where are we going?" Eduardo asks.
Mark doesn't answer. It's a half an hour drive, but they get there eventually, on the far side of the state. Mark finds a parking lot, underneath seagulls flying overhead. He parks, and leads Eduardo down the dock, to the sand.
"Mark?" Eduardo says in wonder, following him.
Mark stands on the beach and turns, awkwardly shoving his hands into his pockets. "You mentioned, earlier," he says. "That you missed home, so I thought - "
"Mark," Eduardo says, stepping closer.
"I know it's not Brazil," Mark says. "But I don't want you to be upset, or - " he shifts from foot to foot. "If it helps."
Eduardo smiles at him, cupping Mark's jaw. He takes another step forward.
They're so close; Mark doesn't want to breathe, to step away.
"It helps," Eduardo says, before kissing him.
The salty air whips around them. Mark kisses back. He doesn't know what Brazil feels like, but he hopes it's what Eduardo's feeling now.
Eduardo pulls back, and says, "We should go for a walk."
With anyone else, talking and walking along the beach would sound torturous. Right now, with Eduardo, it sounds like the best thing in the world.
"Okay," Mark says.
They spend the afternoon down the beach, sometimes kissing, holding hands. Later, Mark drives them back, and Eduardo smiles at him in the car - soon, Eduardo will go back to Brazil, and then Harvard, and then Mark will join him, eventually. But today, now, Mark thinks he's found home.