You almost don't see him. It's late, and you're tired from a long night of making nice and wishing that you'd just sent a check, because Mark had been there too. Events like these are always tiring, smiling and smiling and smiling at people who smile the same empty smile back, but it's worse when you have to pretend like you've moved on, like seeing him doesn't make you wish you could rip your own heart out for everything it's done to you.
You leave a little past eleven, early enough that the host, who is a friend, will be offended, but you know he'll forgive you and you don't want to be there anymore. Mark hadn't ever actually approached you, much less attempted to speak with you, but you'd felt the weight of his gaze early on in the evening, and the phantom of it lingers, a certain tightness in your shoulders, even though you'd lost track of the man himself hours ago in the mix of well-cut suits and decadent gowns.
Stepping outside, you flip up the collar of your wool overcoat up against the evening's chill, and text your driver from the safety of the front entrance, watching the rain poor down, practically a solid sheet of water where's it coming down over the edge of the awning, a fine mist of it ghosting across your face even though you're standing under shelter. Helen texts you back to say that she'll pull around, and it's as you slip your cell phone into your coat pocket that you see the dark figure through the rain.
There's no moment when you're not sure who it is; you lived and breathed him for two years, and even now you spend far too much time thinking about him; you know him the instant you see him there, sitting on the ground, leaning back against one of those stupid lion statutes, legs sprawled carelessly in front of him; you're stepping out from under the awning before you've even consciously registered the surprise, your heart doing double, triple time. You're soaked before you get two feet, and he doesn't look up as you approach, or even when you're standing right next to him, and you feel bile start to rise in your throat, because you can't imagine what he's doing out here, on the lawn in the middle of the night, when it's freezing cold and pouring rain--
But he tilts his head up and blinks at you, when you manage to make yourself reach out and touch his shoulder, too afraid to call his name, too afraid that there isn't going to be a response.
"Jesus Christ, Mark," you breathe, and kneel next to him shakily. He blinks at you again, owlish, and raises an unsteady hand to pat at your own where it rests on his shoulder.
"Hey, 'wardo." You hear through the roar of the rain and your heartbeat echoing in your ears, and his voice sounds a little off, a little too slow and too careful and too unguarded, and you realize that he's drunk, just drunk; or was just drunk, before he sat himself on the ground out here to freeze to death.
"What are you doing out here, Mark?" You ask carefully, and he frowns at you in silence a moment before fishing around in his suit jacket -- jesus, he's not even wearing a coat -- and brandishing a smart phone triumphantly.
"Waiting for my driver," He says, but the screen of his phone is dark, shut down, probably water logged, and you wonder how long he's been out here waiting for a driver he may not have successfully called.
"You need to go back inside, Mark." You say, and pull at his arm. You need to get him dry, and warm, and find out which driving service he's using and how soon they can come to get him. But he shakes his head mulishly, and refuses to rise.
"No." He says, in a tone that means he won't compromise, but his refusal is coupled with a look over at you and a quirk of lips that, for Mark, passes as a smile. You ignore the way it makes your chest ache, and open your mouth to try reason, but you're saved from trying to argue with him -- an activity with which you have never had great success -- by the limo pulling up.
"Mr. Saverin?" Helen asks, huge umbrella snapping open smartly as she steps out.
"Help me get him in the limo," You say, and you're grateful she's your regular driver whenever you're in town, because she just raises an eyebrow at you before stepping over to take Mark's other side. The two of you wrestle him into the back seat; given his refusal to go back into the house, Mark seems oddly complacent, and settles into the back seat docilely.
"I'll get the towels, sir," Helen says, and goes around to the trunk as you slide into the back seat after Mark. His head lolls a little against the leather head rest, and he quirks another one of those smiles at you.
"Where are we?" He asks after a second, puzzled, and you sigh as Helen hands in a stack of towels and closes the door.
"Which hotel are you staying at?" You ask, using one of the towels to pat awkwardly at his hair. He just stares at you. "Mark?" You prod, and his brow furrows; he shrugs, and offers the dead cell phone again. From the front, Helen looks back through the window, waiting for instruction, and you know you shouldn't, but there really isn't even a question about what you're going to do. It isn't like you can call around town asking all of the hotels if they have a Mark Zuckerberg staying there. "Take us back to my hotel," You say, resigned, and then, "I'm going to put this up," as you push the button that raises the privacy screen.
"Did you like the party?" Mark asks as you crank the heat in the back up as high as it will go, and you chuckle bitterly as you begin to wrestle him out of his wet suit jacket.
"No, Mark, I did not like the party." You answer absently, and Mark makes a disappointed sound. Christ, he's soaked through, and freezing cold -- you know Mark has never really cared about cold, but this is different, his skin is freezing and his face has a grayish cast that you really don't like, but he's shivering, and that's good, right?
"Is it because I was there?" Mark asks, and he sounds oddly serious, like he actually cares about the answer; then, "Hey, are you taking off my shirt?"
"Yes, Mark, I am, because it, like everything else you are wearing, is soaking wet," You answer with deliberate calm, and ignore the other question. Mark hums a little, and tries to help, which really doesn't, and after the shirt comes the undershirt and then his pants and socks, until he's down to boring black boxers, which is where you stop, catching his hands as he gamely goes for those next.
"I thought we weren't friends anymore," Mark sounds puzzled, and a little hurt, and you almost laugh at the absurdity of it, reaching for a dry towel, which you drape over his head and begin to rub against his hair vigorously, your hands tangling with his as he reaches up to try to do the same. You don't say anything to him because you don't have anything to say to him that you haven't said a million times before, in words or actions or depositions, and it's too late to try again.
It's sweltering now, the heat blasting unrelentingly from the vents, but he's shivering more violently than he had been before, so when his hair is mostly dry you struggle out of your own coat and suit jacket, and force his arms through the sleeves, pulling them close around his body; you hesitate only a moment before slipping your arms under the suit coat, around his waist, and pull him tight against your side. Mark makes a startled noise before wrapping his arms around you in turn, pushing his cold face into the crook of your neck, melting into the embrace with an easy acceptance he had never, never displayed during the two years you'd thought he was your best friend; you close your eyes and breath out through your nose, steady and deliberate, and ignore how tight your throat feels, the hot prickling at the corner of your eyes.
"You smell good," Mark says, and, "I missed you," and, "Why didn't you come, Wardo," and you ignore all of it, because Mark is drunk and it doesn't mean anything.
Mark is practically asleep by the time Helen pulls up in front of your hotel; the doorman doesn't raise an eyebrow at Mark's state of undress, and you're grateful that it's too late for the family crowd but too early for the party crowds to be coming back in as your bundle him into an empty elevator; the last thing you need is someone getting photos of either one of you like this. Mark leans against you on the ride up, sleepy and disheveled, as stupidly appealing as he'd ever been, and you get him into your room, out of the coats and into the bed as quickly as you can, pulling the top sheet and the generously stuffed down duvet up just in time as he sleepily struggles out of his wet boxers and throws them carelessly onto the carpet. You leave them where they fall.
He's asleep almost immediately; you muffle another bark of laughter in the palm of your hand, and turn the thermostat up to 89, as high as it will go, before collapsing in the nearest arm chair, shocky and dazed. You feel like you've narrowly escaped catastrophe, like you're dreaming, but you know this is real because this is your life, this is what Mark Zuckerberg does to you. You should get up, move to the too-short couch in the attached suite area or even get another room for the night; but what you're going to do it sit here, and stare at the tangle of his hair, and watch him breathe, and think about the two of you, all those years ago, when you would have given anything to have him naked in your bed.