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The Secret

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Eduardo has been different. Wrong. He’s all nervous energy, tension leaking out from him. Just sitting across from him, Mark can feel him shifting his weight from side to side under the table, crossing and uncrossing his ankles.

“What’s wrong with you?” Mark asks bluntly.

Eduardo opens his mouth and closes it several times before he manages to find the words.

“What? Why would you say that?” Eduardo says, somehow managing to sound hurt and defensive at the same time.

Mark knows that Eduardo’s father is here but he refuses to believe that one person can cause someone to change so drastically. There is something wrong with Eduardo.

“You can’t sit still today and you’re wearing a tie. You’re wearing cuff links,” Mark notes with distaste.

“So I care about how I look. Maybe you should,” Eduardo says derisively. “Not everyone wants to look like they are a poor college student who doesn’t know what they’re doing.”

“But we are college students,” Mark says matter-of-factly.

“The point is we’re supposed to be better than that,” Eduardo says like he’s reciting something he knows.

His phone beeps and Eduardo almost flinches from it.

“I have to go,” Eduardo says. “I paid for breakfast. I’ll-”

“Are you going to movie night?” Mark cuts in.

“-see you later, Mark.” he says without looking at Mark once.

Mark waits around for Eduardo all day, wondering if he will remember their usual movie night.

“Maybe he’s busy with his dad,” Dustin says. “Didn’t he say his dad was staying over for a few days? Some kind of business thing.”

Then Dustin loses to Chris.

“That’s not fair, I was talking! Rematch Hughes!”

While they are bickering, Mark slips out of Kirkland. Eduardo isn’t answering any of his calls. He said he would come and it is unlike him to be late (“That’s really rude, Mark.”)

He’s outside of Eduardo’s single when he hears raised voices.

“Father, I have to go.”

“Eduardo, we are not done here. What have I said about obeying me?”

“I don’t want to talk about this right now.” The words are defiant but Eduardo’s words are small and he sounds young.

There’s the sound of rustling.

“I’ll be back tomorrow, Pai, goodnight.”

“Eduardo Luis Saverin. You are not going anywhere. Now. Come here, right now, or you will regret it,” Eduardo’s father says threateningly.

Mark frowns and thinks of knocking when he hears a sharp smacking sound and the unmistakable grunt of pain from Wardo.

“Wardo!” Mark yells.

“Mark?” Eduardo says, sounding surprised. “I’m coming!”

A moment later, Eduardo is closing the door behind him.

“I was worried about you,” Mark blurts out. “Are you okay?”

Eduardo turns around slowly. “Why wouldn’t I be?” He’s smiling warmly at Mark.

Mark can see a drop of blood at the corner of his lip. Your dad hits you, he thinks. “Let’s go,” he says.

“Great!” Eduardo says, too chirpily. “I’ve been looking forward to kicking Chris’s ass on Mario Kart. I swear he cheats.” And he starts chattering about bits and pieces.

All Mark can think of is Eduardo got hurt trying to go to their movie night. He obviously doesn’t want anyone to know but Mark knows now. He knows Eduardo’s secret.