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let me count the ways

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When Eduardo wakes up, he’s warm and comfortable and he can tell the sun is shining even though his eyes are closed. There is an arm around his waist, which is weird because usually he’s the big spoon and Christy is the little spoon. But didn’t he just break up with Christy? Why is she in his bed? Speaking of his bed, when did he get home? Something is wrong here.

Eduardo bolts upright. The person in bed next to him startles awake, and Eduardo notes three things.

1. He is in bed with Mark Zuckerberg.
2. This is not his bed. This is not his house. He’s never seen this place before.
3. Mark, who just yesterday looked at him with fear and disgust and most infuriating of all betrayal, is looking at him now with a mix of affection and concern. He looks soft. Eduardo can’t remember if he’s ever seen Mark looking so soft.

Eduardo scrambles out of bed, and he’d probably just run out of the fucking house if he had pants on. Oh, yeah:

4. He’s not wearing pants.

“What the fuck?” he asks, not sure if he’s talking to Mark or himself or the universe at large. He looks around the room, frantically, and doesn’t see any pants anywhere, just books and pictures and knick-knacks and some very strange looking rectangles that he doesn’t have time to wrap his mind around. Where are his pants? Did Mark take his pants?

“Baby,” Mark says. “What wrong? You’re freaking me out here.” Eduardo stops his search for pants because he’s apparently lost his mind and crazy people don’t need to wear pants anyway.

“Did you just call me baby?” he demands. Mark looks at him, still sitting in bed. He looks terrified.

“Wardo, what’s wrong?”

“What do you mean ‘what’s wrong’?” Eduardo shouts. He’s still not clear on what’s going on here, but he’s not going to waste an opportunity to fight with Mark without Sean in the way. “You screw me out of our company and then you--what, kidnap me? Is that what this is? Is this your idea of some kind of joke? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“Wardo,” Mark says, only it comes out as a whisper. He slides out of bed, and Eduardo notices that he’s not wearing pants either. Just briefs. He approaches Eduardo slowly, hands out like he’s trying to calm a frightened dog. “Baby, what year do you think it is?” Okay, so Mark has also lost his mind. That’s nice. Eduardo decides to play along.

“It’s 2004, Mark,” he says.

“No,” Mark says, slowly. “No, it’s not.”

 

The next few hours pass in a complicated blur, but Eduardo manages to catch on to a few key details:
1. It is not 2004. It is 2012. Allegedly.
2. In 2012/this bizarre dream state, he and Mark are together.
3. They’re not just “together.” They’re married. Eduardo knows this is true because there’s a ring on his finger and another on Mark’s and also Eduardo’s mom confirms when they call her from the hospital and explain what’s happening.
4. What’s happening is that Eduardo has “retrograde amnesia” and can’t remember 8 years of his life. It’s likely that Eduardo received some sort of trauma to the head a day or so before, but obviously he can’t remember it. It’s relatively likely that he’ll get his memory back. It’s almost equally likely that he won’t.
5. Mark Zuckerberg is capable of crying tears like a real human being.

“Mark?” Eduardo says. He is sitting in a hospital bed, as upright as he can get the bed to go. The doctor delivering the news is standing to his right. Mark is sitting in a chair he’s pulled up to his left, and he’s crying, face buried in his hands. Eduardo wonders if he should, like, pat Mark’s head or something, but he’s not sure where he and Mark stand now. From his perspective or from Mark’s.

“Wardo,” Mark sobs. “Oh, god, I’m so sorry. You fell yesterday and hit your head pretty hard and I didn’t take good enough care of you and now you’re lost. I’m so sorry.”

“If it makes you feel better, Mr. Zuckerberg-Saverin, there was likely nothing you could have done,” the doctor says, from which Eduardo learns a new thing:

6. Both of their last names now are apparently Zuckerberg-Saverin.

“I’d advise you now to go home and try to get some rest. Don’t try to force anything, but it will increase the chance of memory recovery if you stick to the familiar. Familiar places, familiar people. No work for the next little while, I think it’s safe to say, but it couldn’t hurt to bring him around to the office.”

“What if his memory doesn’t come back?” Mark demands, blunt as ever. The doctor smiles pityingly.

“You’ll have to adapt,” she says.

The car ride home is the third worst thing Eduardo has ever experienced in his entire life. (The first was his best friend screwing him out of their company. The second worst thing was everything else that’s happened this morning.)

Eduardo doesn’t know what to say. Mark doesn’t either, but he’s clearly trying. His mouth opens and closes like a fish. He swallows anxiously, and Eduardo watches his Adam’s apple bob.

“Holy fuck, Mark,” he blurts. “Have we had sex?”

Mark nearly crashes the car.

When they get back to the house, Eduardo uses Mark’s (their?) stupidly fancy shower. He gets dressed in clothes that Mark picks out for him, because he doesn’t know where any of his own clothes are. The outfit is comfortable and classy and Eduardo suspects he must wear it a lot because there’s no way Mark could have figured it out on his own. Then he comes downstairs to the kitchen, where Mark told him he would be, and finds Mark sitting at a table in front of two plates of eggs made exactly how Eduardo wants them, talking on the phone.

“Yeah, Mom,” he’s saying. “I’ll call you right away if he remembers anything. Yeah, I’ll tell him. Love you too.” He hangs up the phone. Eduardo has a sinking suspicion.

“Was that my mother?” Mark jumps at the sound of his voice, and when he turns to Eduardo he looks goofily happy to see him.

“Yeah, she says hi. Eggs?”

“What did she say to tell me?” He doesn’t want to eat the eggs. He wants to yell at Mark for talking to his mother but that seems out of the cards.

“She says she loves you. She says to call her if you have any trouble with anything. And--”

“And?”

“She says...fuck. She says to remind you that you love me. Which is...yeah, I know.” Eduardo doesn’t know what the fuck his face is doing. “I’m sorry, Wardo. I’m sorry this is happening to you. To us. I’ll--I’m here, okay? I know you don’t remember it, but I said sickness and health and all that shit, so...I’m here.” Mark’s face is so damn sincere.

Eduardo sits down and starts eating the eggs.

“I can’t fucking believe we’re married,” he says. “I kind of hate you right now. I mean, back then. Whatever.”

“I know,” Mark says. His face is blank again. Factory reset. “What’s the last thing you remember?” Eduardo takes a deep breath, suddenly angry again.

“I came into the office. I thought I was there for the million-member party, but I was just there so you and Sean fucking Parker could screw me over. And then you had security escort me out.” Mark’s calm facade crumbles. Good. “How the fuck did we get here?” Eduardo asks. He’s genuinely curious but he’s also enjoying twisting the knife a little bit. “How did I ever forgive you?” Mark swallows.

“I’ve never really understood it myself,” he says softly. “I’m just grateful you did.” Eduardo doesn’t like that answer. He finishes his plate and takes Mark’s. Mark lets him.

 

The next few days fall into a truly bizarre routine, wherein Eduardo sleeps in their bed and Mark sleeps on the couch (even though they have 2 guest rooms?) and Mark makes him food and fusses over him and participates in Eduardo’s endless Q&A sessions. Eduardo learns the following:

1. In this strange strange world, he is a very successful business consultant. Mark is still CEO of Facebook.
2. Every time Mark says CEO he also has to say the word bitch, for some reason.
3. He did, at some point, follow through on his threat to sue Mark. There were depositions. There was a settlement. Mark doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.
4. There were a few years when they weren’t talking at all.
5. Then they fell in love. Eduardo’s still not sure on the details of this part. Mark’s not volunteering the info, and Eduardo doesn’t know what to ask.

Mark doesn’t appear to be working at all, though Eduardo suspects he just might not be sleeping. Eduardo, for the first time he can remember, has Mark Zuckerberg’s undivided attention.

He knows it’s kind of fucked up, at least from the standpoint of whoever he’s supposed to be now, but Eduardo relishes the flip in their dynamic. Now Mark’s the one desperate to connect, the one breaking his back to make it work between them; now Eduardo’s the one who gets to be cold and withholding and sometimes just straight up mean.

The fun wears off after a while, though, because this Mark is so radically different from his Mark. Old Mark. 2004 Mark. This Mark thinks before he speaks and has access to his own emotions. This Mark has been to therapy. He hasn’t changed completely, which Eduardo appreciates. The only thing weirder than apparently being married to Mark would be being married to a Mark who doesn’t act like Mark. This Mark still loves what he loves with insane focus, only now Eduardo’s on the list of things he loves. He’s still socially awkward and bad at thinking about the consequences of his actions, only now he trusts other people to help him.

This Mark absorbs Eduardo’s outbursts and low blows, again and again and again, like he thinks maybe he deserves it. So Eduardo stops.

 

The first place he wants to go once Mark’s realized Eduardo’s not remembering anything just sitting around the house is the Facebook offices. He needs to see for himself that it’s changed. Mark walks just next to him, hand clenching and unclenching by his side. Eduardo has the impulse to take it; he wonders if that reflex is from his time or this one. He doesn’t, though.

There are two security guards by the front desk. One of them is the same guy who threw him out the other day/years ago, and Eduardo almost expects him to tell him to get the fuck out. He doesn’t. Both security guards smile at them both.

“Morning,” one of them says.

“Larry,” Mark acknowledges, nodding at them. “George.” Eduardo just follows him dumbly. The office looks almost exactly as he remembers, which makes the changes even more glaringly obvious. Most people are dressed in real clothes, not sweatpants and tee shirts. The computers are slimmer and more elegant. Soft music is playing, and none of Mark’s coders are losing their shit about it. Everyone stares when they come in. Eduardo doesn’t like the attention, but he knows Mark told them what happened and warned them not to freak him out, under pain of firing or having to see Eduardo cry.

“So?” Mark is looking at him expectantly.

“It’s nice?”

“You don’t remember anything new?” Mark’s expression flickers when he shakes his head. He whirls around. “Let’s go find Dustin and Chris.” They don’t have to go far. Dustin and Chris are waiting for him in Mark’s office (apparently Mark has his own office within the office now). They both look slightly older and slightly healthier. They pull him into a group hug the second he walks in the door.

“Wardo!” Dustin yells, right in his ear. “How are ya? You haven’t been answering my texts.”

“Texts?” Where is his phone? Mark has that stupid fancy rectangle phone now, surely he has one too. So where is it? “Mark, did you confiscate my phone?”

“Baby--” Mark says, then cuts himself off. “Sorry. Wardo. Your phone’s on your bedside table. It has been this whole time. I didn’t...I wasn’t thinking. I should have told you.”

“It’s fine,” Eduardo says. “But you’re gonna have to tell me my password.”

“It’s our wedding anniversary,” Mark says. Eduardo blinks at him. “Right, sorry. It’s 0805.”

“But it’ll also unlock with your fingerprint,” Dustin butts in cheerfully. Eduardo’s brain might explode.

“Okay,” Chris says diplomatically. “Mark, I know Wardo’s your priority, but while you’re here, how about answering some emails at least, huh? Wardo, I’m sure you have some questions that you don’t wanna ask Mark, why don’t you come with us and ask them.”

“Why wouldn’t he want to--” Mark’s brow is furrowed.

“I would love that,” Eduardo interrupts. “Mark, go do some work. I’ll see you later.” He starts for the door, relying on Chris and Dustin to follow. And, because some things never change, they do. Dustin’s office is awesome in a way that Mark’s isn’t. Mark’s office is just a desk, a computer, a couch, two chairs, and one framed picture of the two of them that Eduardo doesn’t want to really look at. Dustin’s office is covered in tech and legos. Like, so many legos.

“How are you holding up?” Chris asks. Eduardo shrugs.

“Good, for the circumstances,” he says. “In the time I remember, I hadn’t decided if I was going to be mad at you two yet. What did I land on?” Dustin laughs.

“Sorry,” he says. “You went with mad. Very mad. But you made up with us quicker than you made up with Mark.”

“I really fell in love with him?” Eduardo asks. He just can’t wrap his head around it. Sure, he’s loved Mark since they first met. But the Mark he knows hurt him and left him to bleed out. Even as nice as Mark is being to him, now, he can’t believe he ever got over such a betrayal.

“Oh god,” Chris says. “Yeah, Wardo. I’ve never met two people more in love. Do you wanna...do you want to talk about it?” Wardo shakes his head. He doesn’t want to discuss his very complicated alleged love life with anyone, least of all Chris and Dustin.

“No,” he says. “Just catch me up on you two.” They talk for a while, but a few hours later Chris and Dustin have to go to a meeting. Chris offers to let Dustin skip, but Eduardo’s pretty sure he’s fucking up the usual workings of Facebook as it is, so he tells them to go. He makes his way back to Mark’s office, ignoring everyone staring at him and the couple of waves he gets. Mark looks up when he walks in, immediately alert, pulling his headphones off of his ears and leaning away from the computer.

“Wanna go home?” Eduardo shakes his head, endeared. Last time he was here, he had to smash a computer to get that kind of attention.

“Nah, keep working,” he says. “I wanna check out my Facebook account. Do you think that would be possible?” Mark stares at him just a beat too long before he realizes that Eduardo’s making a joke, and then he laughs far too hard. Mark pulls a tablet thingy (they have one at home, too, so Eduardo’s seen one before) seemingly out of nowhere and only has to press a couple of buttons before he’s handing it over to Eduardo.

“I didn’t even have to hack anything,” he says. “Your password is my birthday. Very weak password, by the way.” Eduardo’s not sure what to do with that, so he just takes the device and settles down on the couch. It’s a private account, so only a few people can see his posts. It’s easier than he expected to look at his page, and he gets far too invested in it. He’s not a religious user, apparently, most of what he posts are photos.

Him and Mark on a beach. Him and Mark in Paris. Him and Mark and, unbelievably, Sean Parker; he can’t believe Mark still makes him hang out with that prick. Him and Mark and his entire extended family. Him and Mark and Dustin on the floor of Dustin’s office in front of a huge lego version of the Facebook offices. In Mark’s little lego office, lego Mark is behind the desk and lego Eduardo is on the couch, which is a little bit creepy but does explain why the couch has a perfectly shaped indent that he’s sitting in now.

Him and Mark under a chuppah, gazing into each other's eyes like there’s no one else for either of them in the whole world.

He stares at that one for far too long. He looks so happy. Mark looks so happy.

Someone opens the door to Mark’s office, and he says, based on some strange muscle memory from their Harvard days: “Mark’s coding!”

“Um,” Mark says, looking up.

“Um,” Sean fucking Parker says, hovering in the doorway. “Hey guys.” Last time he was here, Eduardo almost punched him in the face. Maybe this time, now that Mark’s on his side, he’ll do it for real. He gets up off the couch and takes a step towards Sean, but Mark’s suddenly there in between them.

“Guys?”

“Sean,” Mark snaps. “Do you ever fucking read your texts? Or emails? Or check your voicemail?”

“Course I do,” Sean says. “That’s why I’m here, idiot.” He turns to Eduardo. “So you’re back to hating me now, right?”

“Yes, actually,” Eduardo growls, nudging Mark out of the way so he can look right into Sean’s eyes. “Don’t call Mark an idiot.” Sean shakes his head.

“Do you think it would make him feel better to hit me?” Sean asks Mark.

“Yes,” Eduardo says, at the same time that Mark shouts “No!” Sean laughs and puts his hand on Eduardo’s shoulder. He wants to hit him. But he also...he also kind of wants to hug him? What the fuck is that about? “You’re having a baby,” Eduardo whispers, unsure where this information is coming from but sure it’s true.

“Wardo?” Mark says, but then Sean grabs Eduardo into a hug and Eduardo hugs back and what’s happening exactly?

“Are we friends now?” he asks Sean, feeling strange and scared and out of his mind.

In the next few minutes, he learns the following:
1. He and Sean are friends now.
2. Sean and his wife are about to have a baby.
3. He and Mark are going to be the baby’s godparents.

“I can’t believe Sparkles is the first thing you’ve remembered,” Sean says, sounding vaguely triumphant. Mark is pouting, but Eduardo has bigger problems.

“Please tell me you’re not really gonna name the kid Sparkles,” he says. Sean laughs.

“No man, that’s just what we’ve been calling the baby,” Sean says. “Megan doesn’t want to name it until it’s out. You’re the one who suggested the place-holder name.”

“Oh,” Eduardo says. “That was a good idea.” Sean laughs but Mark squirms.

“Wardo,” Mark says. “That’s not everything.”

4. He and Sean work together. Actually, more accurately, he and Sean own a business together. They’re consultants. They’re pretty good consultants, apparently.

“I’ve been covering for you at the office,” Sean offers, apparently reading the room well enough to sound uncomfortable. “All of our clients say hi. They think you’re in Bora Bora right now.”

“Why do they think that?” Mark demands.

“Because it’s probably a bad idea for them to know that the man they rely on for his business expertise doesn’t remember any of his business experience,” Eduardo says. Sean clasps him on the shoulder again. This must be kind of a thing, with them. Mark looks scared all over again.

“Don’t worry,” Sean says. “I got it covered. You just focus on getting better.” Eduardo nods slowly.

“Thank you,” he says. “I can’t wait to remeet Megan and Sparkles.” Sean smiles. Mark frowns.

 

Eduardo’s in a crazy good mood on the way home. He’s remembered something! He’s part of a successful business (again)! He’s gonna be a godfather (which isn’t a thing he really knows about, but it’s the thought that counts)! And Mark is letting him drive the car!

“Take a left here,” Mark instructs. Eduardo takes the turn too fast, but whatever! Their car is awesome! Mark gets out of the car the second they’ve parked, even though Eduardo’s pulled into their garage really crooked.

“Mark?” he follows Mark into the house and into the kitchen. His shoulders are hunched, and his hand keeps flicking up to his face. “Are you crying?” Mark turns on his heel.

“Don’t mock me,” he snaps. “I know you don’t remember, but I’m mourning something really beautiful right now, okay? So just give me a damn second.” Eduardo stares. Is he supposed to get mad back? Is he supposed to say sorry? “Sorry,” Mark says, before he can say anything. “I’m just...fuck, Wardo. Is there anything else you remember, now?” Eduardo tries. He really does.

“I remember liking the couch in your office?” Mark smiles sadly.

“Yeah, okay. I’ll take it.”

 

The fifth time Eduardo comes with Mark to Facebook (which he keeps suggesting because it makes Mark so happy), Chris comes into Mark’s office to ask Mark if they’re planning on coming to the party tonight.

“Party?” Eduardo asks.

“No party,” Mark says.

“We used to have a party every time we hit another million users,” Chris says. “But then we were drunk all the time and we weren’t getting any work done. Now we have a party every time we get another 10 million. It’s fucking great. We rent out this club, we all get hammered. You love it, I swear.” Eduardo leans forward. He can’t remember the last time he went out, both literally and from back when he actually remembers. He worked so hard that summer he had no time for fun.

“I wanna go,” Eduardo tells Mark. Mark throws up his hands.

“Fine,” he says. “Go.” Eduardo cocks his head.

“I want you to come,” he says. He really really does, something inside is telling him not to go unless Mark does. Mark sighs.

“Fine.”

Mark takes them home before they go to the party. Eduardo changes into party clothes in the bathroom, while Mark changes in the bedroom. When Eduardo steps out, he’s all hips and confidence, ready to see the look on Mark’s face. But the second he sees Mark, fussing with his hair, he stops cold.

There are two reasons:
1. Mark looks stunning. Like, Eduardo always thinks he’s kind of cute, but right now he looks downright fuckable.
2. He remembers that he likes the way Mark’s ass looks in those jeans.

“I like those jeans,” he says.

“Thanks,” Mark says.

“No, Mark,” he says impatiently. “I remember that I like those jeans.” Mark stares. Then he smiles, a beautiful shit-eating grin.

“Yeah you do,” he says. Eduardo smiles back.

The party is fucking awesome. Eduardo gets super duper drunk, because he deserves it. And holy shit, how didn’t he think of this earlier? Everything feels special and shiny and not so scary. If he lets himself, he can imagine that they’re all the way back at Harvard, before Facebook was even an idea. He didn’t go to a lot of parties and Mark went to less and none of the parties were anywhere near this awesome, but he has a good imagination and an unseemly high blood-alcohol concentration.

“Dance with me!” he shouts at Mark. The crazy thing is that Mark does. He stumbles out onto the dancefloor after Eduardo, and he’s not a good dancer, but he’s clearly aware of that. Sean joins them, and then Dustin and Chris, and a bunch of strangers. His hand brushes Mark’s, so he grabs it, because he can. Because Mark lets him and keeps letting him and even lets Eduardo sort of spin him. And then Mark pulls him off the dance floor and into a dark little corner near the bar.

“Two shots!” Eduardo requests. He and Mark throw them back in unison. “Who taught you to dance, Zuckerberg?”

“You did,” Mark shouts back.

“Then I did a terrible job,” Eduardo replies, and Mark laughs and then. Oh fuck. He’s remembering something. Something important. “We waltzed,” he tells Mark, hoping for confirmation. “At our wedding. We waltzed and it took lots of practice but it was beautiful.” Mark inhales sharply.

“Wardo,” he says, sounding fragile, but Eduardo’s not done remembering.

“That was the greatest day of my life,” he tells Mark. “I don’t remember it, but it was. I know it was.” Mark stares at him. Then he surges up to him, hard and confident and familiar. Eduardo kisses back; at first muscle memory just takes over but then he realizes what happens and he doesn’t mind. He puts his hands on Mark’s hips and pulls him even closer. One of Mark’s hands is in his hair and the other is in the front of his shirt. Something about this feels so right…

Two hands push into the space between Mark and Eduardo, and there’s Sean. And Sean’s furious.

“What the fuck!” he shouts at Mark. “He’s just a kid!” Eduardo looks to Mark to stand up for himself, but Mark just crumples.

“I’m so so sorry,” he says, hollowly. “Sean, will you--”

“Yeah,” Sean says. “Go the fuck home, Mark.” And then Mark is lurching away and Sean’s arm is around his shoulders and they’re both getting into the back of a car and what’s happening? Where’s Mark? Sean’s looking at him, but his brain is officially off-line. When the car stops, Sean clasps his shoulder and leads him into a very tastefully decorated house.

“I like that vase,” Eduardo hears himself say.

“You bought it for us,” Sean replies. “Come on, buddy.” He leads Eduardo into a bedroom and helps him take off his pants, which he tries to joke about, but Sean doesn’t laugh.

“Are you aware of the irony that this is the second time you’ve torn Mark and me apart?” he asks, pulling the blanket up to his chin. Sean grimaces.

“Can you blame me?” he asks. Eduardo blinks. It is kinda weird that Mark kissed him, isn’t it? Isn’t it? He’s asleep before he can properly answer the question.

When he wakes up again, there is an aspirin and a glass of water on the bedside table, which is super awesome, because his head hurts. He gets out of bed, pulls his party pants back on, and then leaves the room and tries to find Sean. He eventually finds himself in the kitchen, not with Sean, but with a very pregnant woman.

“Wardo!” she shouts, because she knows him.

“Megan?” he guesses.

“Yup. Pancakes?” Eduardo blinks.

“Sure.” He just stands there for a bit, watching her get stuff out. Megan turns to look at him.

“You can sit down if you want, honey.” She gestures towards the kitchen table. Eduardo sits. “I know you don’t remember me, Wardo, but I want you to know that I’m very very fond of you.” She pats her belly. “And so is Sparkles.” Eduardo feels tears spring to his eyes, unbidden. He looks down at his lap and tries to formulate a response. Luckily, Sean bounds into the room, all positive energy.

“Wardo! Meg! My two favorite people--not counting those currently in utero. How are you two crazy kids getting along? Better than the first first time you met? The first time you two met, Wardo, Megan kept flirting with you and it was super uncomfortable for all of us. Is she pulling out her moves again?”

“Shut the fuck up,” Megan says. “Don’t listen to him, Wardo.” Sean crosses the room to Megan. He slots his arm around her waist easily and kisses her cheek.

“So mean to me,” he jokes to Eduardo. “Hey, so I’ve talked to Zuckerberg, and we agreed that you two could probably use some time apart. So I’m Eduardo-sitting, and he’s gonna go code or whatever he does when he needs to get his head straight. Jack off and think of you? Is that ethical?”

“Sean!” Megan and Eduardo shout at the same time.

“Sorry.” Sean takes a breath. “Look, Wardo, Mark hasn’t really had any time to adjust to all this, right? He’s been too busy looking after you, which isn’t your fault. This is best for both of you. Just stay with us for a couple of days, okay? I’ll take you by the office, if you want.”

“Our office?” Sean smiles, blindingly.

“You think what they got at Facebook HQ is hot shit,” he says. “Wait til you see what we’ve got going on.”

So, despite a little voice in his head telling him to go find Mark, Eduardo stays. Mark does deserve some time without him. And come to think of it, he deserves some time without Mark. So he goes to the office with Sean, and Sean’s right: it’s perfect, a perfect Sean-Wardo mix of classy and fun and futuristic. Sean introduces him to some of their employees, who clearly want to make a good second first impression. Then Sean shows him to his office, and tells him to look around, in the hopes that it will jog his memory.

The only things of note he finds are the following:
1. 5 different pictures of him and Mark.
2. His own fucking dope business cards. He pockets one.
3. A manila envelope shoved in the back of a file cabinet. Inside the envelope is paperwork for adopting a child.

He shoves the later back into the file cabinet and turns to Sean.

“Take me somewhere else,” he demands. So Sean does, taking him on a mini-tour of all of their favorite spots in and around the office. They eat their “usual” at a local sushi place, and it’s so good that Eduardo’s first thought is to text Mark about it. Then he remembers that he and Mark aren’t talking quite yet and also he doesn’t know how to work his stupid new phone.

So he moves on to Plan B: going back to Sean’s and getting to know his alleged best friend and said best friend’s pregnant wife. They fill him in on some choice anecdotes. It’s strange to hear stories about himself, but it’s also hilarious. The more and more he hears about his new life, the more he wishes to remember it. After dinner, Megan lets Eduardo touch her stomach and feel the baby kicking. Sparkles wakes up under his touch, and it feels safe and familiar.

 

He stays another three days, and at some point it turns from an arrangement between Mark and Sean to what feels like a stalemate between Eduardo and Mark. Eduardo’s not sure what he’s waiting for, but he’s not sure what Mark is waiting for either. What if Mark’s decided it’s better this way? Better just to cut his losses and move on, move away from the pain.

Then Megan’s phone rings in the middle of breakfast on the first day. She answers it cheerfully, but her face quickly falls.

“Shit,” she says.

“What’s wrong?” Sean demands, jumping to his feet. “Did your water break?”

“Sean, in what world would someone call me to tell me that my water broke?” Megan asks derisively, and Eduardo would laugh if she wasn’t looking right at him. “It’s not that, it’s…” She keeps looking at him and he understands. He feels a sudden, crippling wave of fear.

“Mark.” Megan nods.

“Give me the phone,” Eduardo demands. Sean may say something in protest, but he’s not listening, just grabbing the phone and pushing it against his ear. “Mark?”

“Hey Wardo,” Chris’ voice says. “It’s Chris.”

“What’s happening with Mark?” Eduardo demands. He’s not sure why he’s quite so wound up about this, before he’s even heard what’s wrong, but the thought of Mark in pain (or worse) sets off something deep and instinctual in his brain.

“He’s not hurt, Wardo,” Chris soothes. “He’s just an idiot. You and I have a deal about not letting Mark code for 36 hours straight. He’s approaching hour 37. And he’s been sleeping on the couch in his office.”

“Tell him to go home,” he demands. Chris snorts.

“You’re the only one he ever listens to,” he says. “Get Sean to bring you in.” Eduardo turns to Sean, but Sean’s already got his car keys out.

“I’ll be right there,” Eduardo says. He follows Sean to his car. There is a complicated knot of emotions in his chest, which he chooses to ignore. His heart is pounding in his ears as they pull up to the Facebook offices. He blows past the security guards, storms through the maze of desks, and throws open the door to Mark’s office.

“Fuck off, Chris,” Mark says, not looking up. He looks fucking terrible. His hair is limp, and his hideous hoodie is rumpled. He has huge bags under his eyes.

“When was the last time you showered?” Eduardo asks. Mark looks up, wide-eyed and unsteady.

“Baby?” Eduardo decides to let the pet name go. Just this once. Mark scrambles up from his chair, not even bothering to detach his headphones, which get yanked off his face as he moves. He rushes to Eduardo and falls into him, smushing his face into Eduardo’s chest. Eduardo melts into the touch. Then Mark pulls away like he’s been burned. “Oh god,” he says, and Eduardo’s stomach plummets when he sees that Mark’s started crying again. “I’m fucking it all up again. I’m so fucking sorry. I won’t touch you anymore, I promise.” Eduardo runs a hand through his own hair.

“Mark, I like it when you touch me,” he admits.

“Don’t say that,” Mark says, shaking his head, backing away. “Sean’s right. You’re just a kid, at least in terms of what you remember. I can’t take advantage of you like this.”

“But I like it when you touch me,” Eduardo answers. “And I’m not a kid, not really. And all the people on the Facebook group say that familiar touch can help bring back memories.” Mark gapes.

“T-the Facebook group?”

“Yeah,” Eduardo says, feeling very sure of himself. “I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this, but there’s this thing on Facebook where people make groups for all sorts of things. Like, there are groups for people who build those little boats in bottle thingies and groups for owners of certain breeds of dogs. And there’s a group for people who have or have had retrograde amnesia. Sean helped me find it.”

“Motherfucker,” Mark murmurs. “Are you really using my own website against me?”

“I wanna go home, Mark,” Eduardo says. “Come with me?” Mark nods dumbly. He picks his car keys up from the table and starts towards the door. Eduardo swoops down to grab the keys. “Chris said you haven’t slept for 36 hours,” he says. “You’re not fucking driving.” Sean clasps him on the shoulder as he and Mark make their way to leave. “Thanks for everything, Sean. I’ve got it from here, but I’ll call you later.” Sean frowns, but he nods. And then Eduardo is nudging Mark into the car and then into the house and into the bed in their bedroom.


“Couch,” Mark mumbles. He’s been fighting sleep the whole time. “I gotta go to the couch.”

“Nope,” Eduardo says. “Go the fuck to sleep, Mark.” So Mark does. Eduardo sits next to him on the bed and watches him sleep, only feeling a little creepy. He takes a deep breath and tries to make sense of the mess in his head.

Here’s what he knows:
1. He and Mark are in love, but he doesn’t remember it.
2. He’s always been at least a little bit in love with Mark, ever since they met.
3. He wants to keep kissing Mark. And touching Mark. And maybe have sex with Mark.
4. It wouldn’t be fair to Mark to kiss him or have sex with him. He’s not the Eduardo that Mark loves, not really.
5. It’s probably okay to keep touching him, though. Because the Facebook group said that comforting touch can help bring back memories. And he wants to remember. He really, really does.

Mark gets up around two in the afternoon, and Eduardo makes him shower and eat something. Mark smiles at him over their takeout Chinese food.

“You always take such good care of me,” he says, softly. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“What did you do when we weren’t talking?” Eduardo asks. Mark laughs humorlessly.

“I suffered from severe sleep deprivation and a piss poor diet for years until I finally ended up in the hospital,” he says.

“Mark,” Eduardo gasps, dropping his chopsticks. “Mark.”

“You came to visit me,” he tells Eduardo. “That’s how we started talking again.” Eduardo picks up his chopsticks again. He stabs at a piece of chicken.

“What the fuck, Mark,” he grouses. He’s glad he’s here to take care of Mark, because Mark can’t do it by himself, apparently. Even in this befuddled state, at least he’s making sure Mark eats and sleeps and--hey! “You don’t sleep well on the couch,” Eduardo remembers. “You don’t sleep well anywhere except in our bed.”

“You remembered!” Mark sounds thrilled.

“Have you been sleeping like shit for weeks?”

“Erm.” Mark sounds like he’s been caught and is about to be in trouble. Which he is, kind of.

“Tonight you’re coming back to bed,” Eduardo announces, leaving no room for argument. Of course, Mark tries. He tries again and again and again and then Eduardo says the magic words: “Please Mark. Please come to bed.” And Mark goes, quiet and pliant. When Eduardo climbs under the covers next to him, Mark is shaking. “Mark.” He’s whispering. “What’s wrong?”

“I wasn’t even this scared before the first time we slept in the same bed,” Mark says.

“Why are you scared?” Eduardo demands. “It’s just me. I want you here.”

“Exactly,” Mark replies. “It’s you. I’m terrified of you, Eduardo. I’m afraid I’m gonna fuck it up and then you’re gonna leave me forever.” Eduardo absorbs that. Then he moves down the bed to put his arm around Mark’s waist and lay his head on Mark’s chest. Mark stops breathing.

“Jesus Christ,” he mumbles into Mark’s chest. “I’m not leaving you, dude. Never. In the time I remember, you pushed me away, and I didn’t even want to leave you then, you forced me out. You want me here, now. And I want to stay. We said sickness and health and all that shit. Apparently. And I’m sticking to it.” Mark finally takes in a shallow breath.

“Years ago,” he says carefully. “You told me that you’ve loved me since Harvard. Is that...when you woke up...do you remember that?”

“Yeah,” Eduardo says, smiling. “I loved you that whole summer. I loved you even when you broke my heart.”

“And now?” Mark’s scared, but at least he’s willing to ask.

“Now I’m at least a little bit in love with both versions of you,” Eduardo answers calmly. “Though I certainly like this one better.”

“Jesus,” Mark breathes. “Wardo, I--”

“I know,” Eduardo interrupts. “Sleep now, okay?”

“Okay,” Mark whispers back. Eduardo reaches over and turns out the light.

When he wakes up, he’s warm and cozy and Mark’s curled up in his arms. He smiles and goes back to sleep.

 

They spend the next few weeks after that in a strange sort of limbo, in which they’re desperately in love and also completely platonic. There is no more kissing. There is a lot more cuddling. They fall asleep and wake up curled together in the same bed; they go into Facebook more often than not and Mark sits at his desk and Eduardo sits on the couch. They both pine, but at least they’re in it together.

Eduardo keeps remembering different little things in bits and pieces, some more relevant than others: Mark is allergic to shellfish. Eduardo and Sean once got drunk and ended up in Nebraska; Mark had to come rescue them. He and Mark are the proud benefactors to a dozen charities and a couple of giraffes in the Palo Alto zoo. When he cums, Mark gets the most beautiful, blissful look on his face. The first time they had sex, they both cried.

Eduardo tells Mark all of the things he remembers, except the sex stuff, which is hard because at some point half of the things he remembers are sex things: Mark, handcuffed to their headboard, begging. Mark, sinking to his knees, waiting for Eduardo’s command. Mark, riding him, chanting “I love you I love you I love you” like a mantra.

Eduardo’s not sure if it’s weird for him to jerk off to these particular memories, but he kind of can’t help himself.

He remembers less pleasant things, too. Loud, angry fights. Small, passive-aggressive snipes. Bits and pieces of the depositions, during which Eduardo had looked at Mark like he hated him and Mark had looked through Eduardo like he wasn’t even there. The terror that came along with falling in love again, waiting for years for the other shoe to drop until he finally realized it wouldn’t. The trepidation that made him put away that manila folder every time he thought of bringing it up to Mark. Mark, looking away from himself in the mirror.

This last one sticks with Eduardo in an unusual way. There’s something about that particular memory that hurts, deep in his chest, but he can’t remember why.

“You know I think you’re beautiful, right?” Eduardo asks that night. They’re sitting in their ridiculous in house movie theatre, eating popcorn. Mark’s making him watch the new Star Wars trilogy again because maybe the third time’s the charm. Obviously he’s not paying very good attention to the movie. Instead, he’s staring at the planes of Mark’s face and wondering if the desire to bite his collarbone is an old feeling or a new one. Mark looks over at him, a wry sort of smile on his face.

“Ah,” he says. “I see you’ve remembered my crippling insecurities.” Eduardo fights the urge to scream. He fights the urge to climb into Mark’s lap and take off his hoodie and his shirt and get his mouth on every possible inch of skin. Instead, he grabs Mark’s hand in his and kisses it.

“Did you ever once believe me?” he asks. “I don’t remember that.” Mark smiles at him.

“I tried, my love,” Mark says. “I always tried.”

This is another recent development. Mark’s been letting the pet names slip out more and more. He has a million of them: Baby. Love. Darling. Angel. Prince Charming. He says them so naturally, so calmly; Eduardo desperately wants to remember the first time Mark used each and every word. He wants to remember what he says back.

 

Sean calls Eduardo at three in the morning on a Tuesday to tell him to get his ass over to the hospital.

“Sparkles?” Eduardo gasps.

“Hurry,” Sean instructs. Eduardo hangs up. Mark, who bolted awake when Eduardo did, looks at him with wide eyes.

“Sparkles!” Eduardo repeats. They make it to the hospital in record time, still in their pajamas. Eduardo is clutching Mark’s hand like a lifeline. Sean meets them outside of the delivery room. He clasps Eduardo on the shoulders.

“Thank god you’re here,” Sean says. “She won’t let me into the room unless you’re here too.” Eduardo laughs, remembering multiple conversations about this very topic.

“I know,” he says. “Let’s go in.” Mark doesn’t let go of his hand (or maybe he doesn’t let go of Mark’s) so Megan grips the other one, hard enough to hurt. “You’re doing great,” Eduardo says, talking to Megan but looking Sean right in the eye, because Sean is freaking out. He recalls a series of memories: Sean, getting drunk and telling Eduardo that he doesn’t know if he can ever be good enough for Megan. Eduardo, standing behind Sean’s shoulder as he vows to love Megan for the rest of his life. Sean, calling him the second they found out Megan was pregnant, crying because he doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to be a good father. Eduardo, telling him that he will.

Megan screams again, and all attention focuses back to her. She screams and she pushes and she asks for the drugs but it’s too late and then finally, around 9 AM, the baby is born. The doctors hurry it away for a moment and Megan cries, and then they bring her back the baby, swaddled and perfect.

“Ten fingers and ten toes,” the doctor reports cheerfully. “And it’s a girl! Congratulations, Mrs. Parker.” Megan looks at the baby, teary and breathless.

“It’s funny,” Megan says. “She really does look like a Sparkles.” Sean and Mark laugh, but Eduardo does not.

“Meg,” he says, suddenly sure that this is what he calls her. “You cannot name the baby Sparkles. Kids will laugh at her.”

“So?” Megan says. “Her daddy’s a billionaire. Let the other kids try.” When they come back with the birth certificate, Megan writes Emma Sparkles Parker. They all cry.

Around 11, Megan and the baby are asleep, and Sean tells Mark and Eduardo to go home so he can creepily watch his wife and child in peace. Eduardo promises to call, and Sean hugs him. Eduardo makes Mark drive them home because there’s something building in his chest, cresting like a wave, and all he can do is breathe through it.

 

When they get into the house Eduardo grabs both of Mark's hands in his and stops him right in front of the front door.

“Baby?” Mark looks at him, concerned. “What’s wrong?”

“Would you ever want that?” Eduardo asks, then clarifies. “A family. A kid. Did we ever talk about it?” Mark laughs, but he sounds scared.

“Right before you hit your head,” Mark says. “We talked about it for the first time. You were so enthralled with the idea and I hadn’t ever thought about it before. I’ve thought about it a lot, now. If you get your memory back...I want to start a family with you, Wardo.”

“You really want that?” Eduardo asks, doubt and fear anchoring him, driving him. “Like, really?” Mark’s hand comes up to hold Eduardo’s face like he can’t help it.

“God, baby, with you? Yeah,” Mark says. “Yeah.” And then something explodes in Eduardo’s mind and he moves without thinking and he’s kissing Mark, everything fast and frantic, as years of Eduardo’s life slot back into place in his head. Mark’s trying to push him away but Eduardo doesn’t want to let him, wants to make up for these months of confusion and fear. “Stop,” Mark pleads. Oh shit. Mark doesn’t know. Oh, his poor Mark.

Eduardo cups Mark’s face in one hand and runs his other through Mark’s hair. Mark looks up at him, wide-eyed.

“Oh, my darling,” Eduardo breathes. “You’ve been so brave.” Mark squeaks, and Eduardo wants to hold him forever. And he gets to: for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. “Oh, my love.”

“Do you--”

“Everything,” Eduardo says. “I remember everything.”

“Baby,” Mark sobs, and then they’re kissing again, and Mark is pressing into him like he wants to bury into Eduardo’s chest. Eduardo guides them back towards the bedroom, confident and practiced. “We should call the doctor,” Mark says, vaguely, but then Eduardo’s mouth is on his neck and he loses all power of speech for a second.

“I love you,” Eduardo says. He pushes Mark onto the bed and climbs on top of him, holding himself just above Mark. Mark’s hands grip onto him hard enough to bruise. “I love you so much.”

“When you woke up,” Mark says, “that first day. You looked at me and you hated me so much. It was like my worst nightmare had come to life. And all I could think, all these weeks, is how much I wished I could talk to you about this. Real you. My Wardo.”

“Yours,” Eduardo promises, scrambling to get Mark’s shirt off. “I’ve always been yours, Mark. Even when you hurt me. I’ve always been yours.” Mark is clawing at the bottom of his shirt so he pulls it off in one fluid motion and then sinks back down to kiss Mark again. Then he pulls back, remembering something. Mark whimpers. “You told me you never understood how I forgave you.” Mark shrugs, as best he can with Eduardo on top of him.

“I never have.”

“Cause I love you, you idiot,” Eduardo says. “Cause I’m yours. And you’re mine.”

“Yours,” Mark agrees fervently. “Now please take your pants off.”

That night, clutched in Mark’s grip like a favorite teddy bear, warm and sated and home at last, thoughts rush through Eduardo’s mind at a breakneck pace. Memories. Future plans. His goddaughter. His work. Oh god, his work. Hopefully, Sean hasn’t screwed up too much.

He forces himself to focus only on the essential:
1. His name is Eduardo Zuckerberg-Saverin. He is a business consultant. He’s very good at his job.
2. He is married to Mark Zuckerberg-Saverin. Mark is CEO, bitch of Facebook. He’s also pretty good at his job.
3. He and Mark had a giant, crushing fight, once. Then they made up.
4. Mark is the love of his life.
5. Someday, probably not soon but also not too far away, they’re gonna start a family.
6. Eduardo is happy. Like really, really happy.