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Just a Life Story and No Climax (The Pornstar AU)

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Dustin is straight and films for the gay porn department of the studio. Mark wasn't sure how that worked, until Dustin explained that he got paid better doing gay porn and all he did was jack off films.

"Better deal," Mark had said, understanding.

"If you're willing to put up with all the dicks," Dustin had said, and then laughed at his own pun for way too long.

Mark has been friends with him ever since.

They don't watch each other work or check out each other's stuff, because that would be weird. Mark actually doesn't watch that much porn, anyway, and Dustin points out - more often than was strictly necessary, at the beginning - that he doesn't watch any porn Mark would be likely to show up in.

"I've got to say," Dustin says. "This may be the first time I've been tempted, though. You and fucking machines, that's a ten on the what-the-fuck scale. I might be willing to put up with your face and your dick being on my screen just to say I've had the experience."

"It's not that bizarre," Mark says. "You make it sound like tentacle porn."

"I like tentacle porn!" Dustin protests, then waves cheerily at a couple of be-robed girls passing them. They give him an odd look and scurry a little faster down the hall. "See," Dustin sighs, looking after them. "If I were willing to make half as much, I could be doing them in half an hour."

"It's more effort," Mark says.

"Well, you'd know," Dustin says.

Mark ignores him. Dustin still hasn't let go of the threesome/double penetration – not Mark, fuck no – he did a couple of months ago. Mark actually factored in the fact that Dustin would have a new topic to make fun of Mark over when he was deciding whether to take this role.

"Breasts, though," Dustin sighs.

He follows Mark into the dressing room and complains about seeing his pasty white ass as Mark changes into the grey t-shirt and black track pants that are his costume for this scene. It's about high school athletes who find fucking machines in the school gym and decide to play gay chicken with getting fucked up the ass as many times as possible or something.

Mark will never get over just how stupid some of this shit is. But beggars can't be choosers, and they'd been a little wary about letting him branch out into the more…technologically-oriented films as it was; Mark hadn't been sure he'd be given another chance at trying this if he turned it down.

Dustin hides his face while Mark gets the lube out and fingers himself open. It only takes a minute or so, he's just trying to make sure he's a little wet, and Dustin talks loud and fast the whole time, probably trying to distract himself from what Mark's doing.

"Anyone you know?" Dustin asks him as they wander out onto the edges of the set.

Mark shakes his head. Dustin has only been around a little longer than Mark, but he actually talks to and gets to know people. He hasn't given up on convincing Mark to do the same yet, so he always tells Mark things about his coworkers, even things Mark wouldn't ever want to know.

"The pretty one," Dustin says. "He's your costar for this one."

Mark rolls his eyes, starts to ask which pretty one, because they're at a porn studio: the twinks are pretty, the dicks are hard, the industry is skeezy. A little specificity is usually warranted. Then he actually looks where Dustin's pointing, in the corner of the room, and okay, yes, the pretty one is probably an accurate enough descriptor.

Mark recognizes him. "Oh," he says.

"Aw," Dustin says. "Maybe you will like this job after all."

"Fuck off," Mark tells him.

The director or some staffer or somebody calls for everyone to start getting ready. Dustin waggles his eyebrows at Mark, says, "That's my cue! Have fun, honey!" He kisses Mark on the cheek – there was a reason it took a while for Mark to believe the claim about being straight – and heads out of the studio.

Mark reaches down and adjusts his dick – track pants suck without underwear, he's discovering, his crotch feels damp – and meanders closer to the edge of the set.

He's just started trying to peer closely at the machines – he can't even tell how one of them is supposed to work, and he wants to go over and poke around at it, but they've got techs for that who would probably bite his metaphorical head off – when his soon-to-be-costar decides to introduce himself.

"Hey," he says to Mark, stopping a few feet away.

Mark glances over at him. "Hello."

"You're the other actor, right?" the guy asks.

Mark says, "No, I dress like this all the time."

The guy, rather than get offended, laughs. Mark approves. It never bodes well when they can't handle his personality even before everyone's dicks come out. "These pants are awful, aren't they?"

Mark shrugs.

"It's nice to meet you," pretty guy says. "I'm Eduardo."

"You're the virgin," Mark says.

The guy's face does something interesting. "I—usually I play one, I guess, yeah. A lot of us do."

Mark shrugs. He doesn't, not really – apparently most people don't buy it on him or something.

"You're…?" the guy says.

"Mark," Mark says.

"Oh," the guy says. "Real name?"

"Yeah," Mark says. "You, too."

"Yes," Eduardo says. He smiles, and Mark almost smiles back before he catches himself, the guy is that good. "I always forgot the fake name, and eventually I had to give it up."

Mark nods again.

"So they told me you haven't done this before," Eduardo says.

"I've been doing porn for four years," Mark says flatly. Eduardo's source is clearly not as well informed as Dustin.

"No, sorry, I meant the machines," Eduardo says. "They said this was your first time on them."

"Yes," Mark admits. He doesn't see why it matters, but there's no point lying about it anyway.

"I've only done it a couple of times before," Eduardo says. "I like it."

"Glad to hear it," Mark says.

"Are you nervous?" Eduardo asks.

"No," Mark answers honestly. He doesn't really expect to be all that impressed. Getting done up the ass has never done much more for him than for any other guy.
"It's just getting fucked."

Eduardo laughs. "I think it's a little different."

Mark shrugs.

"Are you always this standoffish?" Eduardo asks.

Mark glares at him. "Are you always this annoying?"

"I'm just trying to be friendly," Eduardo says, raising his hands placatingly. Annoyingly enough, he seems to be sincere. "I thought you might want to know what it's like."

"I'll find out soon," Mark says.

"I know," Eduardo says. "But, you know, if you had questions, I would try to answer them. They usually put new people with more experienced ones, I think, though I did it on my own the first time. I'm a last minute addition today. I think you were originally supposed to be working with some guy called Roger, but he had to back out at the last minute."

Mark snorts.

"Oh, do you know him?" Eduardo asks.

"We worked together a while ago," Mark says vaguely.

They did. Roger had been the third guy Mark ever fucked, and the first one on film. It had been fine; Roger was requisitely good-looking, and he listened to the director, and he and Mark got their scenes done with the minimum amount of fuss. However, he was a dick. Afterward, he'd tried to pick Mark up, and when Mark told him to fuck off, he'd cornered him against a wall and told him he'd be happy to use a little force, if that was what Mark liked.

Mark had agreed to go out for a drink, and when Roger took him back to his apartment that night, Mark bit his dick while going down on him. Roger hadn't been able to work for a month after, and he's avoided Mark ever since.

The director – a guy named Frank Grams, Mark likes him because he's an asshole but he's honest about it – calls them onto set and makes them repeat their few and very shitty lines, then waits for the techs to give everyone the go-ahead.

Permission granted, Mark tunes out the filming and script. He says his lines by rote. Nobody ever expects much from porn anyway, and the studio knows to expect even less from him. Mark just tries to survive the mediocre "plot" until it gets to the fucking and orgasms part.

Eduardo, on the other hand. He's camp and ridiculous and making it hard for Mark to respect him as a person. He plays up the lines with a smile that's nothing like his real one. He's faking it as much as Mark is, but he's working at being believable. Mark almost wants to smack him over the head.

Mark is getting fucked first. He's just lost some off-screen bet and his forfeit is getting put on an exercise bench and letting Eduardo try the machine out on him. He peels his shirt off and then his pants, ignoring the urge to scrub a hand over his dick. He's hard, or hard enough, because walking onto set almost always gets him going; it's associated with a lot of pleasant memories and good orgasms, and he's been conditioned.

Eduardo's eyes flick down his body, cursory and probably too fast for the camera to catch, and then he looks at Mark. Mark settles himself onto the sticky leather bench on hands and knees, wiggles a little to make sure he's firmly planted, and then tilts his head back at Eduardo. Keep going.

There's one more crappy line about Mark's last chance to back out, and Mark gets to tell Eduardo to go fuck himself, and then Eduardo is taking the dildo attached to the long metal pole and guiding it forward. Mark can't see what he's doing without craning his head unattractively around, which he's not allowed to do.

The first touch of the dildo at his ass is cold. It's lubed up, and Mark's open enough, so he pushes himself backwards just enough to get the head inside. Eduardo takes the hint and keeps pushing, and Mark takes a deep breath and arches his back just enough to help. It goes all the way in on a long slow slide.

He clenches down on it when it's in, feels his breath speeding up a little. He's all the way hard now and he moves his hands and knees a little, testing the range of his motion with the toy inside him. Eduardo's got control of this scene, so he'll watch for Grams's cue to go on.

Eduardo's hand touches his hip, opposite where the cameras are so they probably won't catch it. Mark tilts his hips up and drops his head down, hoping that's enough of an answer.

The machine starts up and Mark twitches a little at the noise. The dildo pulls almost all the way out on the first stroke, and he shoves his hips back, afraid it will fall out. Eduardo grabs his hips and yanks him backwards.

When it pushes back in it feels like it goes in almost too far, and Mark makes a noise. Eduardo puts a hand on his back. "Okay?" he asks lowly.

"Unimpressive, so far," Mark grits out.

"Okay," Eduardo says. He turns the machine up.

Mark groans unintentionally. It's still deeper than he's used to, steady and pulsing, but he wiggles his hips, pressing down and trying to get the unsatisfying pressure to resolve.

Eduardo increases the speed again at the same time Mark gets the angle right. The indeterminate pressure resolves into a flash of heat up his spine, and Mark moans again. It comes out loud and shameless, and the dildo pushes back into him two, three times before he can bite the sound back.

And yeah, it's really nothing at all like regular sex. It's even and relentless and Mark settles his hands further apart, trying to keep himself to the right position. The speed goes up, fucking in with no space for breathing or adjusting in between. Mark never realized how much he moved and clenched while getting fucked, but now he can't do either. The dildo pushes into him whether he tightens around it or not, and every time he tries he shakes a little at the rough slide he gets.

It speeds up, and Eduardo's saying something – another line, Mark has completely forgotten the script, not that it matters – and one of Mark's hands, sweaty, slips. He tips on the bench, catching the edge, and yelps unintentionally.

Eduardo catches him, pressing against his shoulder. "Try not to fall off the bench," he murmurs, teasing, and Mark hisses out, "No shit," and hopes the mics didn't pick it up.

Eduardo crouches down by his head. He's been palming himself through the pants, there's a damp spot, and Mark watches him through half-shut eyes. "I'm going to keep turning it up," he says. "Unless you tell me to stop."

Mark nods sharply, chewing on his lip.

It does speed up, but more than that, the stroke length changes. It doesn't pull out as much anymore, and it slides short and heavy into him, leaving him no break at all. He gasps in a couple of breaths and gives up on staying upright, collapsing onto his elbows and hooking his fingers around the edge of the bench. The metal ridge underneath cuts into his fingers, grounding him, and he squeezes.

There are hands smoothing up and down his back, cool and reassuring. Mark tries to focus on them, on Eduardo, but he can't, and then Eduardo grabs his hips and pulls him back again. Mark scratches at the bench, trying to stay still, but Eduardo leans over and hisses, "You're being pushed forward, let me move you," and Mark relinquishes his grip.

The toy is an agonizing slide of pleasure inside him, even deeper now, heat and pressure and sparks from all the right places, and Mark digs his nails into the leather and he can't stop squirming. He so close already, fuck, this is embarrassing, he hasn't come this fast in years, but his whole body aches from tension and his dick is leaking, dropping wet spots onto the leather already wet with sweat and condensation.

Eduardo's hands come back, tracing down over his sides and to his nipples, squeezing and pinching. Mark grunts, because it never does much for him but he's so sensitive right now, all over. Eduardo licks the back of his neck and then one of his hands grab Mark's cock, squeezing tight.

Mark cries out and comes, spilling messy over Eduardo's fingers. His whole body shakes, and he locks his fingers tight around the sides of the bench.

Grams calls cut and a half hour break. Mark drops his head all the way onto the bench, unclenches his fingers, and decides not to move.

The dildo slows and slows before finally stopping, half in him. Mark clenches around it, and shudders out a breath, trying to stop panting. Then the dildo moves again, sliding all the way out of him. Mark moans, a little pathetically, and can't stop himself from tightening again, feeling shaky and messy and too open.

"Sorry," Eduardo says, a little tentatively. "I thought you'd want it out of you."

"Ugh," Mark says, closing his eyes again.

Eduardo sits on the bench by his head and his hand settles tentatively between Mark's shoulders. He's obviously hard in his track pants, and Mark is vaguely sympathetic to how gross that must feel.

"Are you going to be ready again in another half hour?" Eduardo asks after another couple of minutes, quietly.

Mark says, "I'll have to be, won't I?"

He waits for Eduardo to gloat, to tease him, but nothing ever comes. Eduardo just rubs his shoulders and sits with him.

"Why are you touching me?" Mark asks.

Eduardo's hand stills. "Do you want me to stop?"

"No," Mark says.

Eduardo laughs quietly and keeps rubbing. "I thought maybe you were going to go to sleep."

"No," Mark says. He takes a slow breath and stretches a little, straightening his legs out. His ass twinges, promising beginnings of soreness settling at the base of his spine.

Grams calls out a fifteen-minute warning, and Mark grunts a little and pushes himself up. He's thirsty, and he'll have to move for the next scene anyway. Better to peel himself off the bench without the cameras watching.

He wanders over to get a bottle of water. Eduardo pads along behind him. Mark twists the cap off and takes a few swallows. He holds the last gulp in his mouth and eyes Eduardo. Eduardo has his own unopened bottle of water in his hands, and he's watching Mark back.

"Don't you want a robe?" Eduardo asks after a moment, glancing down Mark's body.

Mark looks down at himself, too. His skin is cooler now but not too bad – the chill of the room feels good. His cock is going soft, but it's still red and sticky, curving down against his thigh. Mark swallows his now-warm mouthful of water. "No," he says.

Eduardo gives him a look.

Mark shrugs back at him.

"So what did you think?" Eduardo says, starting to smile a little slyly.

Mark says, "Humiliating."

"What?" Eduardo asks, face falling. "What do you mean?"

"I haven't come that fast in three years," Mark admits, grumbling.

"Oh," Eduardo says. He laughs. "No, I'm sorry, I'm not laughing at you."

Mark rolls his eyes.

"You lasted almost fifteen minutes," Eduardo says. "Better than me."

"Yeah?" Mark asks curiously.

"A little over eight," Eduardo admits, making a face. He may be blushing, but Mark isn't sure.

Mark hides his smile by taking another drink of water. "I'll have to see for myself," he says.

Eduardo looks horrified. "No, don't do that."

Mark blinks. "What?"

"I don't like it when people watch my porn," Eduardo says.

Mark stares at him. "What?"

"I tell everyone not to watch it," Eduardo explains, ducking his head.

"That's counterproductive," Mark says.

"Yeah," Eduardo says, twisting his mouth to the side. "Everyone watches it anyway, I think."

Well, Mark certainly would. "Why don't you want them to?" he asks.

"Because it's terrible," Eduardo says. "I'm bad. You shouldn't watch it."

Mark can't hide his smile this time.

"Time to go, guys," Grams hollers. The technicians and cleaners start vacating the set. "Come on, Zuckerberg, get your dick hard."

Mark gives him the finger and sets his bottle down. Grams gives him the finger back and starts lecturing one of the camera guys about something.

Mark resettles himself against the wall and drops a hand down to encircle his cock. It's still sensitive and he hisses a breath out between his teeth. He's never let that stop him before, though, so he strokes slowly.

One of the advantages of doing porn is the abundance of jerk off material. He licks his other palm and brings it down too, twisting them over his cock in the way that gets him up fastest. He thinks about half an hour ago, getting fucked hard, and how he can still feel it. His cock twitches, starting to fill again.

There's a quiet rustle from Eduardo's track pants, and Mark opens his eyes. "Are you just going to watch?" he demands.

He watches Eduardo swallow, eyes tracking the movement of his Adam's apple. "Would you like some help?" Eduardo asks lowly.

Mark breathes out hard. Eduardo takes it as permission, closing the space between them. One of his hands covers one of Mark's, and Mark drops his other hand, curling it against his thigh.

Eduardo squeezes around Mark's hand, controlling their motion. He's slower, gentler about it than Mark. It makes it worse, makes every stroke a tease. Mark huffs out a noise, grips onto Eduardo's wrist.

"Too hard?" Eduardo asks, looking up from their hands to catch Mark's gaze. His eyes are dark, pupils blown.

"Not enough," Mark grits out, just as Eduardo squeezes their hands near the tip, rubbing his thumb under the head. Mark's cock jumps and he moans, unable to stop his hips pushing forward.

"Harder," Eduardo says, sounding breathless. "Got it." He's bending towards Mark, lips parted and breath hot.

Mark leans forward, pulling Eduardo flush against him. He tips his head back, hoping Eduardo will take the hint. "Yeah, like—" he starts.

"Over here guys, come on!" Grams calls. "Do you see any cameras over there?"

Eduardo jumps, releasing Mark. He steps back and clears his throat. "Looks like you're ready."

"Fuck you," Mark says sincerely, squeezing his cock regretfully one last time.

Eduardo laughs and places a hand on Mark's back as they return to the set. "Tomorrow," he says.

"At least your blue balls will be worse than mine," Mark mutters viciously.

"That's the spirit," Eduardo says.

Mark eyes the setup mistrustfully. They want to put him on exercise mats on the floor and stick his legs up over a metal bar. He doesn't approve, but he's got no veto powers on this shoot.

"On your back," Eduardo says cheerfully and slaps his ass.

"Great," Grams calls, "now let us get the cameras rolling and Eduardo can do that again."

Mark glares at Eduardo. Eduardo looks chagrined and mouths sorry at him.

Filming starts and Mark gets his ass slapped again, and then he has to lay down and wriggle around to get into position. His face feels hot by the time he's done.

Eduardo kneels next to him, reaching over to get the dildo – larger, this time, and Mark clenches a little at the thought – adjusted and ready.

"I suppose I'll be nice and put lube on it for you," Eduardo says, scripted dialogue, but Mark glares at him anyway. Eduardo grins back, looking way too pleased with himself, and Jesus, Mark likes his smile. "If I were really going to be nice I suppose I'd help stretch you first," he adds, trailing his fingers over Mark's hole. Mark shivers, hard and unexpected; Eduardo freezes too, fingers pressing just a little harder as he stares back at Mark.

"But I don't feel like being nice," Eduardo finishes, after too long a pause. Mark knows, if it had been up to them, Eduardo would've done it, given him two or three or more fingers till he begged for cock – Mark knows Eduardo would've, as much as he knows he would've actually begged.

Eduardo lubes up the toy and then smears the rest of the lube onto his pants when he wipes his hands clean. He grips the black toy, guiding it to Mark's ass.

He presses it in slow and inexorable like last time. Mark takes it, but he can't hold back the noise it pushes out of him. He tips his head back, staring at the ceiling far above him.

"We'll start easy again," Eduardo says, and crouches down by Mark's head again. The large, industrial-looking remote that controls the machine is in his hand, and Mark watches him flip the green switch.

It feels different, more than he thought it would. He flattens his hands against the mat, fighting the urge to squirm away from the shallow, unsatisfying thrusts. The texture on this toy is rougher, bumps rubbing against him every time it slides in, but it's got enough lube there's no real friction.

Mark doesn't bother trying to moan and fake it; he hooks his legs further over the bar and holds himself up. It strains his legs and his back and his abs, but he stops fucking caring as soon as he gets it to the right place.

He moans, a little too breathily to be anything but real, and then does it again more loudly when Eduardo snorts out what was probably a laugh. Mark doesn't feel like opening his eyes to check.

It's still not as good as the other machine. He can't hold himself any higher, and it's still too shallow, like a tease when there's so much potential for more.

Eduardo's hand brushes over his forehead and into his hair, brushing a few errant strands off his face. "Hey," he says. "If you put your hips back down we can get it deeper into you."

He sounds so sympathetic and understanding. Mark really doesn't like him.

"You couldn't have done that to begin with?" Mark says, and his voice is strained. He doesn't know whether the breathlessness is from getting fucked or from holding himself up.

"You looked so hot squirming to get it all the way in, even if you're shaking now," Eduardo says, teasing at least a little, but then he adds, "But I really want to see if you can come just from being fucked, and you won't if you can't hold yourself up," and he doesn't sound like he's teasing about that at all.

Mark nods shortly and lets his hips fall back to the mat. The dildo is barely in him when he's all the way down.

"Look," Eduardo says, voice low. "Tell me when it's—"

"Just push it in deeper," Mark says, "it's practically fucking useless right—"

It goes deeper in a sudden strong push. Mark snaps his jaw shut and moves his hips just a little and then freezes, because there.

He hates this position normally. It's usually a guy holding his legs over their shoulders, and it makes him look like an idiot. He's starting to consider he might have to revise that opinion now. With both of his legs still propped up over the bar but the machine working down into him, it's at an amazing angle and it's better than anything he's ever felt. Eduardo is still petting his hair, hovering over him, and if they could, if Gram wouldn't kill them, if it wouldn't ruin the whole scene, Mark would pull him down to kiss him.

Eduardo is watching him, intent. Mark suspects the only thing stopping him from jerking himself off is the script; he's hard, and when Mark turns his head to nudge against his knee he makes a tiny, needy noise that Mark, even feeling desperately, desperately fucked, almost laughs at.

"I want to blow you," Mark slurs out, and Eduardo sucks in a huge, gasping breath. Then his eyes dart off to the side, and his face tightens. He pushes himself back to his knees, away from Mark.

That's a no, then. Mark swears he's going to destroy Grams's life one of these days.

"You won't be able to come from this, will you?" Eduardo asks, voice more distant. He presses his hand over Mark's cock, flattening it against his belly. Mark groans, shoving his hips up. It pushes the dildo farther into him, and he whines and tries to be more careful.

"No," Mark hisses out, gritting his teeth. He wants to, he really, honestly does, and not just because Eduardo wants to see it – he wants to know what it feels like, if it's different or just the same, but most importantly he wants to because this may be the last time he gets fucked like this, gets to use one of these things, and he wants to take as much advantage of it as he can.

But he also really fucking wants to come, and he's not sure he can physically take this much longer.

Eduardo doesn't jerk him off, though. He rubs his hand over Mark's cock, the worst tease, until Mark can't help the tiny shuddering jerks of his hips. "You'll come all over yourself, even I do have to help you get off," Eduardo says. He's sort of looking past Mark, and Mark wonders vaguely if he's reading off cue cards.

"Then fucking make me do it," Mark spits, shoving his hips up, about ready to tell Grams and the script to go fuck themselves and jerk himself off.

Then Eduardo looks back down, meeting his eyes, and grabs his cock tightly. He twists like Mark had earlier, playing his fingers under the head and squeezing almost, almost too tight, and gets Mark off between one breath and the next.

Mark can't even cry out, just freezes, staring at Eduardo while he comes and comes, shaking and shaking apart. His whole body sort of fuzzes out, until he can't feel the toy inside him or his own skin, just a floaty, buzzing sense of every nerve going offline. Eduardo stares back at him, looking almost as desperate as Mark had felt a moment ago.

Then it's done, he's over and exhausted and ready to pass out, and the toy is still fucking into him, too fast and too sharp, remote gripped forgotten in Eduardo's hand.

"Turn it," Mark gasps out, trying to squirm away, but with his legs up he can only move toward it.

Eduardo blinks back alive, dropping his hand to Mark's hip and flipping the nice red off button on the remote with the other. The machine slows to a stop almost completely out of Mark, and Mark makes himself wait, frozen like Eduardo until he's given permission.

"And cut!" Grams calls, sounding gleeful. "Alright kids, see you all tomorrow!" he adds, making a quick exit like always.

Some grumbling and murmurs start up from the edges of the room, the rest of the crew coming back to life, and Mark tips his head back and watches the last of the red lights click off on the cameras.

He pries his legs off the bar, dropping them to the floor with a wince. He feels tired and sore all over, like he hasn't since he first started doing this. He jostles Eduardo a little when he puts his second foot on the mat, and Eduardo blinks, finally setting the remote down.

Mark winces, forcing himself down and off of the dildo. It leaves him with a wet, slick kind of sound, and Eduardo's gaze darts over. From the expression that crosses his face, Mark expects a proposition; instead, Eduardo says, "Sorry. I didn't realize it was still in you."

Mark rolls onto his side and stands, legs wobbling. Eduardo grabs his arm, balancing him, and Mark glowers, embarrassed.

"You could just thank me," Eduardo tells him, raising an eyebrow. "You don't have to make a nasty face because I'm helping you."

"A nasty face," Mark parrots.

"Yes," Eduardo says serenely.

Eduardo stays with him into the dressing room. Mark gets dressed, forcing himself reluctantly into his clothes – he never showers at the studio, he's wary of the public bathrooms after some of the stories Dustin's told him – but Eduardo hasn't moved at all by the time Mark's ready to leave.

Mark stops, considering him, and eyes his dick, still clearly defined against the slick dark material of the track pants. Then he looks up at Eduardo's face, where Eduardo won't meet his eyes but smiles vaguely in his direction, then back down at his hard on. "Are you waiting for me to leave so you can jerk off?" Mark asks, smirking.

"Yes, okay," Eduardo says, sounding a little snappish. "Blue balls was right."

Mark is well fucked and lazy-feeling, so he decides to be charitable. He walks over to Eduardo and drops to his knees.

Eduardo yelps, pressing himself back against the wall and staring wide-eyed down at Mark. "What are you doing?"

"Stupid question," Mark says. He's not feeling charitable enough to be careful pulling Eduardo's pants down, and they catch on his cock, pulling it down before it finally pulls free. The noise Eduardo makes is hilarious.

"No, I mean— you don't— we shouldn't," Eduardo slurs out. He still looks like he's trying to bury himself through the wall.

"You've been hard, on and off, for three hours," Mark says. "Are you really going to turn down a blowjob?"

"Right, no, please, yes," Eduardo says, so Mark rolls his eyes and grabs the base of Eduardo's cock, licking over the head.

"I'm really, oh, fuck," Eduardo says, in this really hot moaning kind of way, but Mark figured out how close he is by himself because Eduardo's grip has transferred to Mark's shoulders and it's honestly painful, he's squeezing so hard.

Mark takes as much in as comfortably fits, flattens his tongue along the underside, and sucks as hard as he can.

Eduardo cries out, high and loud, and it sounds like actual pain.

Mark releases him, looking up, but Eduardo has his eyes shut and he whines, "Don't stop."

Mark smiles, licks Eduardo's hip, and sucks him down again.

It takes less than a minute for Eduardo to come. Mark doesn't even get to use any of his – well earned, fuck you – technique, he just sucks hard and holds Eduardo's hips still. When Eduardo does come, groaning lowly and clawing at Mark's shoulders, his legs give out. He slides down the wall at the end, and Mark sits back on his heels, swallowing a couple of times and feeling pleased with himself.

Eduardo ends up with his knees crumpled up in front of him, pants still tangled around his legs. He's flushed and panting and pretty, and Mark swallows one more time and leans forward to kiss him.

Eduardo kisses back lazily, acting out of it, which Mark forgives him for – his blowjobs tend to do that to people. Still, he's sweet about it, holding the side of Mark's face and licking gently behind his teeth.

Mark has to pull back too soon. He can't really get to Eduardo properly because Eduardo's knees are in the way, and his own knees are starting to protest his position. He pulls away, watching Eduardo blink his eyes back open before he stands. Then he smirks down at Eduardo and says, "See you tomorrow."

Eduardo groans, dropping his head back against the wall.

---

Mark has to go in early the next day so he can be taught how to operate the machines. He normally hates getting up before noon, but feels oddly cheerful today. His ass and lower back are sore when he stands up, and he has faint bruises on the backs of his legs from the bar yesterday.

He ignores his phone, blinking at him on his desk with the messages Dustin sent him yesterday, asking how the shoot went and whether any of the machines exploded and how Mark liked his newest costar. Mark had read all of them and decided none of them were worth responding to.

It's just some tech showing him the machines. Mark is glad; he usually likes the techs better than anyone else who works at the studio. They're all calmer and usually more intelligent. The one showing Mark the machines, after telling him which buttons do what and which buttons to never, under any circumstances, push at the same time, answers Mark's questions about how they actually work.

They spend almost two hours too long talking as the tech – who turns out to be an engineer, which explains the unusually high intelligence quotient – tells Mark about the differences between the machines, and how they develop them, and how much of a pain in the ass it is to move them when they're needed on different sets.

Mark has almost been convinced to quit acting and join the technical crew – though the guy makes a crack about that "nice dick of his" going to waste, which both flatters and disgusts Mark, since the guy seems to be about his father's age – by the time he has to run to the cafeteria and grab a sandwich so he doesn't starve during the afternoon's shoot.

When he gets back to the studio, most of the crew has arrived. Mark wanders over to Grams, ignores the offensive remarks about his "lazy goddamn Jewish ass," since he's not even fucking late this time, and waits for Eduardo to arrive.

Eduardo almost is late, shoving through the doors a little breathless just a few minutes before they're supposed to start. Mark stares at him and then waves a little stupidly, which makes him want to cringe, but Eduardo waves just as dorkily back and Mark feels better. He ignores the snickering they elicit from the few crew members who are watching them.

"Get your fucking clothes on," Grams says, and Mark follows Eduardo into the dressing room.

"He's very rude," Eduardo says. "And hello again."

"Hi," Mark says blankly. "Grams is?"

"Yes," Eduardo says, pulling off his shirt. It's some really nice-looking cotton pullover, and Mark wonders if Eduardo is one of those obnoxious gay guys who loves shopping too much. "Even for a porn director."

"He's a dick," Mark says. "I like him."

Eduardo laughs and drops his pants. He has to bend over to peel his briefs down, and he catches Mark looking while he does it. "Really?" he asks.

"You never got undressed yesterday," Mark says. A serious oversight, Mark thinks; Eduardo has too much smooth skin, and they didn't even get it on camera yesterday. Mark can't believe Grams didn't take advantage of what he was given.

"And you'll be seeing me naked all day today," Eduardo retorts. A faint red tinge is spreading high across his cheekbones and the bridge of his nose.

"Yes," Mark agrees, and decides to be nice and not mention the blush.

He doesn't have to change his own clothes so he follows Eduardo onto the set. Eduardo's supposed to start off on the machine Mark was on yesterday, on all fours on the bench, and then flat on his back on the same bench with a different machine. They're not making him put his legs straight up in the air; Mark resents this.

"Change of script, guys," Grams says, catching Mark's elbow.

Mark shrugs his hand off and says, "What?"

Eduardo tilts his head, looking obliging.

"We're going to put Eduardo on his back first, then film the bench scene later. We want to have Eduardo suck you off while he's getting fucked there," Grams says.

Mark scowls. "We couldn't have done this—"

"Got it," Eduardo says brightly, and hauls Mark off.

"What the fuck," Mark says, freeing his wrist from Eduardo's grip.

"Don't talk back to the director," Eduardo says. "Is it really worth complaining about?"

"You should be complaining," Mark reminds him. "You're the one their script neglected all day yesterday."

"And it was really traumatizing, believe me," Eduardo says, rolling his eyes. "Are you always this difficult about script changes?"

Mark isn't, usually. There's no reason this should piss him off so much – this way he's guaranteed to get off, and it'll probably be really hot to watch Eduardo blow him while getting fucked, like a DP scene without the hassle of another person, but he's offended on Eduardo's behalf. "They're going to hope it looks like you're being taken advantage of," he says, scowling. "They wouldn't let me blow you yesterday because it would've looked too much like we were both actually enjoying ourselves."

Eduardo laughs a little. "Mark, it's rare that they don't explicitly make me play a virgin. I don't mind if it looks like you're taking advantage of me."

"But they wouldn't let you take advantage of me," Mark says.

Eduardo smiles teasingly. "Come on, aren't you looking forward to taking advantage of me?"

"That's not the point," Mark mutters, but he gives the argument up for lost and follows Eduardo over to the bench.

Mark has to be naked all day, because everything they're filming today is supposed to come after his scenes yesterday. He drops his clothes off to the side, where they get picked up and put on a chair by one of the crew. Grams yells for everyone to be ready, makes Eduardo and Mark parrot their lines out, and then calls for silence on the set.

Eduardo's just as overenthusiastic about his lines as yesterday. Mark can't help himself, rolling his eyes partway through, and Eduardo breaks off, grinning at him. Grams calls them assholes and makes them start over from the beginning.

They get through on the third try, and Eduardo strips for the cameras while Mark goes over to the machine and makes sure he remembers everything from this morning. It's not that difficult, and he waits a little impatiently for Eduardo to get his ass on the bench.

As soon as Eduardo lies down Mark forgives the positioning. Eduardo may not have his feet stuck up in the air, but he has to bend his knees to tuck his feet onto the edges of the bench, and his legs go everywhere. They're too long, and he looks just as ridiculous as Mark must've. He squirms more, wiggling and straightening and re-bending his legs until he makes himself comfortable.

When he's done, Mark asks, "Are you sure you're ready?"

Eduardo nods agreeably, missing or ignoring the sarcasm completely. Mark turns to mess with the attachments. Eduardo's first toy is different than the one Mark used yesterday. It's red and, Mark thinks, a little smaller, and glittered. It looks stupid, in other words.

It's easy enough to get the rod and toy lined up at Eduardo's ass. When it's ready, Mark catches Eduardo's eye, and Eduardo says his last line, something about "taking it better than Mark," and then Mark grabs the rod above the base of the toy and presses it into Eduardo. Eduardo squirms as it goes in, hips shifting as it presses inside, and Mark tries to focus on the depth of the toy instead of the small noises Eduardo starts making as soon as it goes in or the way his toes curl against the bench. The flex of muscles is faintly visible in his legs as he moves, and Mark wants to bite them.

When it's in all the way and Grams doesn't give him any signal to stop, Mark starts the machine. It's at the slowest speed, of course, a slow boring pace. Mark looks at the remote, looks at Eduardo's smooth face and hooded eyes, and turns the machine up until he finds a speed that looks interesting.

Eduardo pushes back against it, tilting his hips up and then sliding one of his legs further down. It takes him a minute to find a good position, but then he freezes, a tremble building that Mark can feel when he cups one of Eduardo's knees.

"Oh," Eduardo says, when Mark turns the machine up a little bit more, and "Please," when Mark changes the depth a little.

"Stop faking it," Mark hisses, when he's leaned over in the pretext of adjusting something on the machine.

"'m not," Eduardo says, eyes shut as he tilts his head back, and he thrusts his hips back against the machine. "I never—"

So Eduardo's vocal. It's annoying. Mark likes the noises of fucking, the skin and the lube and all those gross sound effects, and he can't hear any of it because Eduardo won't fucking shut up.

"You ought to be fucking gagged," Mark grumbles at Eduardo the next time he's done groaning too loudly, and turns the machine up in retribution.

Eduardo pries his eyes open to slits, looking at Mark questioningly. Mark scowls at him, but he doesn't notice because he's too busy moaning some more.

A couple minutes later, though, and Mark doesn't care anymore. His mouth is dry and he's almost painfully hard and he feels awkward just standing by Eduardo's feet next to the machine, but he doesn't care about any of that because Eduardo's taking the whole dildo on fast deep thrusts and crying out almost constantly and Mark, even though the script won't allow it today, is pretty sure Eduardo could come just from being fucked. Grams hasn't given the signal yet, but he will soon, and Mark is going to jerk Eduardo off, even though he's already rubbed roughly over Eduardo's dick a couple of times and Eduardo twitched away, moaning and pushing back onto the dildo.

He could use a bigger one. They couldn't start with one because there was no warm up for Eduardo before this scene, but Mark thinks Grams should've given Eduardo the time and given him permission to use a bigger toy, because he looks frustrated with what he's getting. He's flushed all the way down his chest, across tight nipples and taut stomach, and he keeps opening his eyes and looking down his body, as if looking for where the toy goes into him.

The next time he does it, Mark reaches over and rubs fingers over his rim, feeling the smooth wet glide of the toy against them as it fucks into Eduardo. Eduardo, when Mark pushes a finger in, moans more loudly even than he has before – which is saying something; Mark really is considering suggesting that gag – and Grams waves a hand to get Mark's attention.

He nods when Mark catches his eye and Mark reaches obediently down to grab Eduardo's cock. He leaves his finger in Eduardo, and he'd push another one in, stretch him more, but from the way Eduardo's hips jerk, legs and stomach going tight when Mark grabs his cock, he doesn't think Eduardo needs it.

Eduardo comes as loudly as he did everything else in a wet mess over Mark's hand. Mark wants to lean down and lick him clean, but that would obscure the camera's views and besides, Grams has already made it clear that's not approved behavior. Instead he waits until Eduardo is done and he drops his legs to the floor on either side of the bench, half-heartedly pushing himself away from the force of the machines which Mark has left running at full speed. He's panting up at the ceiling, mouth open and wet, and even his breath is loud.

Mark turns the machine off. When it stops completely and he's pulled it out of Eduardo, Grams makes an annoyed, belated call to take a break. Mark brings his palm up to his mouth and licks it clean, sitting on the bench by Eduardo's sprawled legs. Eduardo, unsurprisingly, makes another noise, and when Mark looks, he's watching Mark's fingers disappear into his mouth.

Mark smiles. "So when you said 'bad'," he says, "you meant you turn into a complete slut."

"Oh, god," Eduardo moans, a little pitifully, and buries his face in his arm. Mark doesn't know how that's supposed to help, but he lays his hand on Eduardo's thigh anyway, sitting in companionable silence.

"Hm, water," Eduardo says after a few minutes. Mark is rubbing his palm, wet from his spit and Eduardo's come, over the head of his dick, just out of habit. Eduardo leans up and nudges his side gently with a knee, prodding until Mark stands up and makes room for Eduardo to swing his leg over so he can sit up.

Eduardo stretches all the way over – he really does have very long limbs, Mark notes, releasing his dick reluctantly – and grabs a towel from the piles on the edge of the set, scrubbing it over his crotch and down between his legs. "I don't like leaving come or lube all over me," he says when Mark looks at him.

"What if it's not your own?" Mark asks, smirking. He doesn't mention that those are probably meant to be props; he doesn't care if the number of towels doesn't add up when the final film is compiled.

Eduardo makes a face at him and throws the towel sloppily in a corner.

Mark touches his knee again gently as he lies back down. Eduardo's interesting, Mark has decided. He's a mess of contradictions: uptight about showing his porn but slutty about doing it, lazy after he's come but hyper-focused when it's not him coming, outgoing and weirdly polite. Mark taps fingers against Eduardo's knee, watching Eduardo smile at him, and realizes he'd regret never seeing Eduardo again after this shoot.

A crew member brings them water, which Mark accepts but eyes balefully, since they're never willing to bring it for him. Eduardo smiles brightly, stretching his legs out a little and thanking the guy. Mark waits while Eduardo drinks, considering his timing, but just as he decides to take his opening, Grams makes his presence known.

"So I want Eduardo on all fours," Grams says, "and Mark, you'll be in front of him."

"You want him to suck me off while he gets fucked," Mark says, rolling his eyes. "When he's doing doggy style there's really only one option for positioning, isn't there?"

Grams gives him a dirty look and heads off set. Eduardo sits up on the bench and Mark, unsure if that was a hint, gets up too and stands in front of him while they wait.

"You're not very tactful," Eduardo says.

"You're on all fours," Mark says. "I stand in front of you. You open your mouth. This doesn't require a five minute explanation."

"That's true," Eduardo says. "But that doesn't mean you have to be rude."

Mark looks back at Grams where he's tearing into a camera guy for who-knows-what reason, then stares at Eduardo again pointedly.

"And just because he's rude doesn't mean you have to be," Eduardo says, apparently determined to get his point across.

"Alright, yes, I could've been more polite about it and wasted ten minutes listening to his idiotic, needless directions," Mark says.

"I give up," Eduardo says, raising his eyes to the ceiling.

Grams finishes flapping his hands at everyone and gives a five-minute warning. Mark's already ready, still hard from the previous scene. Eduardo isn't yet – he's still red and half-hard from before – and he cups his cock while Mark watches.

He's gentler with himself than Mark prefers, circling his thumb over the head slowly and barely stroking. He hisses after a minute, releasing himself, and looks sheepishly up at Mark. "I'm not sure this is going to work," he says.

"You're being too patient," Mark says.

"I'm being too patient with my cock," Eduardo says, raising his eyebrows.

"Ready, guys?" Grams calls.

Mark opens his mouth, but before he can say anything, Eduardo glares at him and calls back, "Yes."

Eduardo twists, getting himself onto all fours on the bench fairly easily. He doesn't squirm as much as he did to get ready on his back.

The toy this time is bigger, possibly the same ridged black one Mark had used yesterday; he can't quite tell. On all fours, Eduardo's more exposed, and Mark rubs his thumb over his hole. Eduardo clenches under his touch and Mark smiles.

He pulls the toy forward, guiding the metal rod until it's pressed against Eduardo's entrance, and then he turns the machine on. It pushes in deep and draws out immediately, thrusting even while Eduardo cries out and shakes, sounding surprised more than anything. Mark lays a hand on his back, watching him move against it.

"You're an asshole," Eduardo hisses. He's panting already.

Mark snorts and runs his hand down, rubbing his fingers over Eduardo's skin where it's stretched around the toy. Eduardo makes another small noise, but he's stopped shivering, steadier now. His cock, when Mark reaches down curiously, is still half-hard.

Movement off the edge of the set catches Mark's eye. It's Grams, waving at him to get moving. Mark doesn't scowl – he exerts a lot of effort to make sure – and circles back around to Eduardo's front.

Eduardo looks up at him, mouth soft and partly open, eyes all pupil. Mark touches the side of his face. His hands are cold, though he hadn't noticed until he felt Eduardo's skin, flushed hot and starting to sweat. On the bench, Eduardo's hands clench, and Mark watches his fingers dig into the leather.

Behind Eduardo there's a flurry of movement and Mark looks up, past the cameras focused on him and on Eduardo's ass. Grams is back there with a female crew member, and she's holding up a white cue card.

I'm going to fuck your face

Mark reads the line a few times and then looks back down at Eduardo. He's not looking at Mark anymore, his eyes are focused off somewhere else and he's started shifting, pushing back against the slow even thrusts. Mark takes it for impatience and turns the speed up, twisting the dial on the remote a few notches.

Eduardo moans loudly for the first time. He breathes out hotly as his eyes shut, and Mark can feel the air across his skin. His stomach tightens, want prickling down his spine. He curls his fingers against Eduardo's cheek, just barely catching skin with his nails, and rubs his knuckles down to Eduardo's chin, thumbing his mouth open.

Off set, the white cue card waves. Grams is making fierce, silent, angry gestures. Mark ignores him.

Eduardo licks his lips, looking up at Mark, and Mark pushes his thumb into his mouth. Eduardo sucks, swirling his tongue and moaning again, playing it up while his eyes glitter amusement at Mark. Mark wants to scowl and smile both, and turns the machine up because he can't do either.

Eduardo's mouth falls slack and he makes real noises, short and sincere.

Mark swallows hard and steps forward. His dick, hard against his stomach, is only a few inches from Eduardo's mouth. He pulls his thumb from between Eduardo's teeth, and isn't that a comforting image. Eduardo, when Mark meets his eyes, nods minutely, and Mark, remote held tightly in one hand, guides his cock into Eduardo's mouth with the other.

Eduardo's tongue is wet silk hot and he closes his lips, sucking gently. Mark keeps ahold of the base, fighting the urge to thrust forward. Eduardo moves slowly, but he gets a rhythm going. It's in time with the machine thrusting into him, and Mark, when he's gotten over admiring Eduardo's efficiency, turns the machine up to see if he can throw him off. If it makes Eduardo suck him off faster, that's just a bonus.

Eduardo doesn't stop sucking, but he groans, whole body shuddering, and Mark can't help echoing him. Eduardo, when Mark looks back down, is glowering slit-eyed up at him. Mark can't help smiling a little, and Eduardo's fingers readjust their grip on the bench.

Tipping his head back a little, Eduardo holds Mark's gaze. Mark loses his breath, biting his lip. He turns the machine up some more.

This time, Eduardo's eyes don't shut. He moans again, noises coming almost continuously like before, and keeps his eyes on Mark. He stops sucking, mouth loose. Mark, uncertain, lets go of his dick and touches Eduardo's neck. Eduardo's eyes blink closed for a minute, and Mark takes the encouragement and slides his hand into Eduardo's hair. When he pulls, Eduardo takes him in.

Mark has to close his own eyes, blocking out the view of Eduardo's mouth around his cock and his eyelashes too long against his cheeks and the black toy, wet and huge and fucking into him. Mark could see everything, if he wanted to look, but he cares more about the way Eduardo feels.

Objectively, Eduardo isn't as good with his mouth as Mark is. Subjectively, however, it's fucking hot that he's letting Mark use him like this, and the loose sloppy suction and the press of his tongue is more than good enough. Mark can feel himself getting closer, feels his legs getting wobbly as he pushes himself further into Eduardo's mouth.

Eduardo is still making noises in the back of his throat, possibly because of Mark and possibly because of the machine, but Mark doesn't mind them so much anymore. He tightens his grip on Eduardo's head, feeling strands of hair wind around his fingers, and pulls Eduardo down further. He feels Eduardo's throat tighten, and he wonders, with a distant sense of disappointment, if Eduardo is the one gay porn actor who doesn't know how to deep throat, but then Eduardo pushes up against his hand, changing the angle a little, and takes Mark all the way down.

He doesn't stay down, and he only goes down once more when Mark tugs demandingly, but Mark doesn't take much more than that to come. He gasps in a breath, biting his lip as he comes in a sharp rush, and can't help yanking on Eduardo's hair.

Eduardo doesn't protest, just holds still, and when Mark relinquishes his grip Eduardo swallows, eyes squeezed shut. Mark, looking down at him, wishes he'd thought to pull out, to come on Eduardo's face, though he suspects Eduardo would've complained at him for it later.

Eduardo drops his head forward, panting and sheened all over with sweat, and Mark kneels down to grab his cock. He bites at Eduardo's hip, licks all the skin he can reach, and turns the machine up higher. It's not all the way up, not even close – and Mark can't imagine what the highest speed would be, when he looks at how fast it's already moving, shoving the toy into Eduardo in long fast pushes responsible for the endless noises he's letting out – but Eduardo is tense all over and his hands are curled into fists and his cock, when Mark gets it in his hand, is so, so hard. He's wet, leaking, and Mark doesn't even bother to lick his palm, just spreads the precome over the shaft and jerks Eduardo off as fast as he can.

Eduardo takes maybe a minute more, and before Mark's wrist is even feeling the strain he comes with a long drawn-out whine. Mark fumbles for the remote, on the bench by Eduardo's knee, and turns the machine off. Grams hasn't called cut, but Eduardo looks like he's going to topple over and Mark won't do that to him.

Grams does call cut before the machine has completely stopped. Mark pulls the toy out of Eduardo, remembers his sense of boundaries and doesn't immediately push his own fingers in instead, and waits for Grams to freak out.

Grams doesn't. He catches Mark's eye – Eduardo is still mostly facedown on the bench – and says, "That'll work, but that doesn't give you permission to ignore my directions all the time."

Mark shrugs, and Grams leaves them be.

Eduardo rolls to his side laboriously, and Mark stands up. He holds a hand out to Eduardo without thinking about it, and Eduardo gives him a wry expression as he lets himself be helped to his feet.

In Mark's defense, he probably wasn't as unsteady yesterday as Eduardo is now.

They stumble into the dressing room—Eduardo hits his hip on the doorknob and rubs at it, hissing curses; Mark is sure, at least, that he was more coordinated than that—and then Eduardo leaves Mark without a word to go through into the showers. Mark stalls, debating, and decides to wait. He's not going to sit around the dressing room though, so he heads back out to the studio.

"Grams," he says, and yells it more loudly when there's no response.

"He already left," one of the nearby crew says, a pretty smiling girl who Mark thinks was the one holding the cue card he ignored. "Do you need him for something?"

Mark shakes his head and catches the guy who looks like he might be in charge of the cameras. "I want a copy of all the footage," he says.

The guy looks surprised. "The movie won't be done until—"

"No," Mark cuts him off. "I don't want the movie, I want our footage."

The guy eyes him dubiously. "Uncut?"

"Just make me a copy once you've compiled all of it," Mark says. "It's my porn, I deserve access to it."

"Yeah, okay," the guy says, still looking bemused, and Mark nods once and returns to the dressing room.

Eduardo is still in the shower, so Mark reluctantly goes back out again to retrieve his clothes. Being warm, after the too-cool air of the studio – kept cold to prevent machines, actors, and actresses from overheating – is a relief, and Mark pulls his hoodie on and stuffs his hands in the pocket, sitting in one of the two chairs the sparsely-furnished room provides.

Eduardo comes out in a rush of steam and soap-scent. He's still naked, towel draped over his head, and he looks, for just a moment, startled to see Mark. Then he looks pleased.

Mark smiles back and says, "You smell like a girl."

Eduardo, face hidden under the towel as he rubs his head vigorously, snorts. "I smell like the soap they provide. It's not my fault it's hibiscus."

"It suits you," Mark says.

Eduardo snorts, laughing a little, and then pulls the towel off his head to cock his head at Mark. "I can't tell if you're joking."

Mark shrugs.

Eduardo levels him with a look and puts the towel back on his head. It falls forward as he leans over to get his underwear and pants on, and he looks ridiculous.

"I am so hungry," Eduardo moans, giving up on drying his hair and pulling his shirt on. "I cannot wait to get home and make too much food."

"You'll make it?" Mark asks curiously. He stands up, since Eduardo is pulling his socks up and about to be completely dressed. "Why not stop and get something?"

"Because it's cheaper and better if I make it myself," Eduardo says. "Though I have to admit, the immediacy of the fast food option is very appealing."

Mark nods, sliding his feet into his sandals and then kicking against the ground to be sure they're all the way on.

"What about you?" Eduardo asks. He leans toward the mirror, finger-combing his hair into some semblance of behavior. There's a brush and comb in the dresser under the mirror, but it seems even Eduardo isn't that brave.

Mark shrugs.

"Yeah," Eduardo says vaguely, and there's a jangle of keys.

"Come home with me," Mark spits out impulsively. "Tonight. If you're not doing anything besides eating later. Get dinner with me and then come home with me."

Eduardo goes still, looking over at him. "I—"

Mark closes the few feet between them, grabbing Eduardo's wrist. "I want to fuck you without a script," he says, low, though that's really the least of what he wants, considering.

"Mark," Eduardo says, sounding helpless, and leans down to kiss him.

Mark grabs handfuls of his stupid, stupid hair and holds tight, pressing close until he can feel the denim of Eduardo's jeans against his legs below his shorts and the dig of the button into his stomach. Eduardo's fingers are heavy points of pressure on his back, holding him back just as tightly. "Come on," Mark breathes, when Eduardo breaks for air, and kisses him again before he can answer.

Eduardo turns them and Mark lets himself be pushed backward. Eduardo backs him up against the wall, looping an arm around his neck. He licks deeper into Mark's mouth, his breath hot on Mark's tongue. Mark feels like he's suffocating and he holds Eduardo tighter.

Eduardo breaks away finally, dropping his head onto Mark's shoulder. Mark combs his fingers through the mess he's made Eduardo's hair back into and hums, pleased.

"I can't," Eduardo says, sounding wrecked.

Mark stiffens. "What?"

Eduardo lifts his head. He looks at Mark and says, "I don't date other guys in porn."

Mark frowns. "Not because you won't date someone you've already slept with."

"Of course not!" Eduardo says, and his hands, where they've fallen to grip Mark's hips, squeeze.

"So why not?" Mark asks, trying to be patient. It would be childish, and pointless besides, to demand Eduardo shut up and come home with him anyway.

"It's a bad idea," Eduardo says.

Mark must look as clueless as he feels, because Eduardo laughs thinly and says, "Don't you think it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen?"

Mark shrugs. "Other people do it."

"Name one couple who've managed to stay in porn and stay together."

Mark opens his mouth, stalling, but Eduardo takes his pause as hesitation and says, "See?"

He steps back, prying himself off of Mark while Mark tries to figure out how to explain that he doesn't know anyone who does porn, really, never mind a couple. He wishes Dustin were here, then decides to switch tactics. "No dating, fine, but don't you at least want—"

"Of course I want!" Eduardo says. "That's the problem." Mark stares at him. Eduardo shakes his head and darts back in, kissing Mark softly. "Do you really think I'd be able to leave after sleeping with you?"

Mark shrugs. How would he know?

Eduardo smiles. "I wouldn't. Would you?"

"I'm not the one objecting to dating," Mark says.

Eduardo huffs out another quiet breath and steps away from Mark again. "I have to go," he says and then he leaves, Mark still staring after him, trying to figure out his thought processes.

Mark, when he thinks he understands more or less what Eduardo meant, goes straight to Dustin's apartment. He hammers on the door until Dustin yanks it open, a half-naked young girl plastered along his back – another one of the perks of the industry, one which Dustin is just unscrupulous enough to take advantage of.

Mark ignores her shock and Dustin's outrage, pushing into the apartment. "Can you ask one of your studio people to get Eduardo's information?" he demands. "Preferably his address, though I'll settle for his phone number or last name."

Dustin, when he's stopped laughing and finally realized Mark is serious, says, "No. I really can't. They can't."

"What?" Mark says.

"It's illegal," Dustin says, overly gentle. "They can't give out anyone's information. Imagine if they gave out yours; it'd be an invasion of privacy."

"I certainly wouldn't like it," the girl behind Dustin volunteers helpfully.

"Shut up," Mark snaps at her.

Dustin curves an arm back around her protectively and says, "You didn't get anything from him?"

"I didn't have a chance," Mark bites out.

"In all the fucking and sucking and orgasms you didn't get any—" Dustin starts, and then cuts off at Mark's glower. "Well, this sucks."

Mark scowls. "You can't get anything?"

"I'm sorry," Dustin says, and he actually looks a little sad.

---
***END PART ONE?***
---

In the next two weeks Mark films three scenes. One of them is just a short part for a jerk off film, because they're doing a "non-twink" compilation for once and Mark is feeling lazy and more money never hurts. Dustin actually was set to film most of the scenes in the film, and his screeching when he finds out Mark's on his roster and he has to rearrange his whole schedule to avoid being assigned to him is pretty deafening but also pretty amusing. Dustin demands to know whether Mark would be okay with Dustin filming him, to which Mark shrugs, and that sets Dustin off again as he complains about Mark being deranged and violating friendship trust.

Mark, who decided a long time ago that he could happily fuck and be fucked by anyone on the range of archenemy to soul mate, doesn't really want his dick on Dustin's film either. While Dustin would never actually hurt Mark or his career, Mark wouldn't put it past him to take any raw footage he could and make some horrible voiceover drama out of it if he got bored. Staying away from the front of his camera seems like the best precaution Mark could take to protect his dignity.

The other two scenes are also standard ones. In the first he just blows a guy, which was supposed to be an easy job, a quick thousand bucks, but takes three tries because the guy can't aim worth shit and he keeps messing up the money shot. The second one is a slightly longer suck-and-fuck scene and takes two days to finish.

The footage from their shoot comes almost a week in, delivered by way of Dustin, who doesn't stick around to watch it despite his threats otherwise. Mark watches it twice straight through, and then rips it onto his computer and hides the discs away.

He digs across the internet for traces of Eduardo. He's easy to find – he's pretty popular, as far as porn stars go; but then, Mark already knew that – but it's always just Eduardo, Eduardo, Eduardo. There's no real identifying information.

Mark knows that's the point, but still, he's frustrated. He can't even hack his way into the studio's system and steal Eduardo's information that way, because the studio is twenty years out of date and keeps all their paperwork on actual paper.

"Do you want me to get his schedule?" Dustin asks, crunching into another chip. "I can ask Claire when he's going to film next. You can come catch him at the studio."

Mark considers this. He's sitting on Dustin's couch, eating pizza and bitching about privacy laws. Dustin is participating in some sort of twenty-four hour gaming tournament and he'd asked Mark to come keep him company. Mark, because he had nothing else to do and because it's fun watching Dustin kick everyone's asses, had agreed.

"No," he says. He doesn't think he wants to see Eduardo filming another scene; what if he likes everyone the way he seemed to like Mark?

"Your loss," Dustin says, shrugging.

Mark scowls.

"I mean," Dustin says, "technically not anything new. You lost as soon as you let him get away after two days straight of sex without a last name or phone number."

"Shut up," Mark says.

"You know," Dustin continues, still munching. The latest round is beginning and he's trying to finish his bag of Doritos before he has to start killing thirteen year olds. "If you think about it, he did the same thing. He doesn't know your last name, either. He could have changed his mind and tried looking for you, but he didn't have anything to go on either."

"He heard my last name," Mark snaps. "Grams always calls me by my last name."

"You think he isn't looking for you," Dustin says. He drops the empty bag of chips back on his shitty, scuffed-up coffee table, grabbing the controller in its place as the countdown timer begins onscreen. "You sure he was as into you as you thought?"

Mark leans forward and yanks the controller cable from the box.

"Hey!" Dustin says.

"Oops," Mark says.

"Asshole," Dustin mutters and watches his character get killed, setting him back a good four places in the rankings.

Vindictively, Mark eats the last slice of pizza.

"If it makes you feel any better," Dustin says, "he might just have forgotten. Zuckerberg isn't the easiest name in the world."

Mark doesn't acknowledge Dustin, but it does help.

"I'm sure he just forgot," Dustin adds, with more conviction.

Mark nobly gives him the remainder of the pizza slice.

---

Dustin was right. There is one avenue Mark hasn't been taking advantage of. He can't get around the privacy laws, because there's no possible way to get ahold of the records; Dustin could do it, probably, but Mark gave up trying to convince him after three days. Mark is not the best at convincing people, and Dustin is holding weirdly tight to his morals on this one. Mark's only option, really, is to find Eduardo at the studio again.

And since he doesn't want to see Eduardo fucking anyone else, Mark will just have to make sure he's the one lined up to film with Eduardo.

Mark doesn't relish admitting the validity of Dustin's point, not least because Dustin spends the next three hours gloating about what a genius he is, but he also tells Mark to go in the next morning and talk to a staffer on the second floor.

She's the Claire girl Dustin had mentioned the first time. She's kind of punk rocker-ish, pretty enough as far as girls go and loud enough, from what Mark observes while he's waiting for her to finish up on the phone and stop shoving everything off her desk in what looks like a fit of anger, to give Dustin a run for his money.

When she gets off the phone she turns to him and says, "Yeah?"

"Dustin sent me," Mark says. "He said you have the studio's schedule."

"Oh," girl Claire says, drawing out the word. "You're the guy who wants to creep on another actor."

"Yes," Mark says.

"Just a sec," she says. "I just got the next two weeks' schedule today, and I set it on my desk. I've got to find it – can you believe they only do shit on paper?"

Mark snorts. "No."

"It's fucking disgusting, dude," she says in agreement. "Wait, here." She pulls a manila folder from underneath her keyboard. It's already got a couple of coffee stains on it.

Mark leans forward. "The next two weeks, you said?"

"Hey," she says, holding the papers just out of his reach behind the desk. "Do you know if Dustin's available?"

"Um," Mark says. She looks hopeful. "He's not dating anyone right now?"

She smiles widely and says, "Awesome!" before handing over the papers. Mark takes them. He doesn't know if Dustin's looking to be anything but single right now, but she doesn't need to know that.

He flips through, scanning through the schedule, until his eyes catch on Eduardo S. listed as Cast for a film entitled Boyfriends 4, which is, all considered, the least imaginative title Mark has ever heard. It's filming in Studio 6 in two days, directed by…Grams.

Mark bites back his smirk, handing her back the paper. "Good luck with Dustin," he says.

"You, too," she says, and returns to demolishing her desk.

Grams won't be in his office. Grams is never here unless he's actually filming something, or unless one of the editing teams has fucked up one of his videos. However, shortly after the Roger incident Grams had called to simultaneously ream Mark out for ruining one of their stars and congratulate him on his balls, and Mark has had his cell number stored in his phone ever since.

Mark goes home to consider his plan of attack. Dustin's on his couch when he gets in – Dustin always gets into Mark's apartment; he must have a key, but Mark doesn't know where he got it – but Mark waves him quiet and sits on the couch next to him, dialing Grams. He hates talking on the phone, but his chances of convincing Grams to do what he wants are slimmer if he tries over text.

"What?" Grams answers.

"It's Mark," Mark says.

"Zuckerberg," Grams says, sounding, if possible, less enthused than he did when he answered. "I don't bail people out of jail."

"The fuck would I be in jail?" Mark snaps. "And why would I call you?"

"You're not in jail?" Grams asks.

"Are you high?" Mark says. Dustin snickers quietly.

"So what's up, kid?" Grams says.

Mark grits his teeth. "You're doing a movie in two days."

"Huh?" Grams says.

Mark honestly thinks Grams is one of the stupidest people he's ever met. "Eduardo's going to be in it."

Dustin goes into a paroxysm and starts poking Mark's side. Mark slaps at his hand and waits for Grams to respond.

"Oh, yeah," Grams says, sounding as if the light is coming to him, very distant and slowly. "Yeah, I think so."

"He is," Mark says firmly. "I want to film with him."

Dustin stops laughing, sitting up straight again and staring at Mark. Mark ignores the urge to shove a hand over his face.

"Huh," Grams says. "Well, your last scenes were pretty popular. I've got no problem with it."

"Yeah?" Mark asks, cautious.

"Gotta see if the other actor can be dropped or moved," Grams says.

"What's his name?" Mark says. He can handle one actor.

"I'll text you the shoot info, kid," Grams says.

"Tell me who—" Mark says, but the phone disconnects.

"So," Dustin says as soon as Mark's hung up. "So, Mark."

"Fuck off," Mark says. "Quit breaking into my apartment."

"I have a key," Dustin says. "Mark, you're going after the object of your affections through porn. This is not how relationships work, you need to reconsider your approach."

"I can get his phone number and last name," Mark says.

"You make me sad," Dustin says.

"Sad enough to leave?" Mark asks, but Dustin shakes his head cheerfully and turns the TV on. Mark goes to get his computer.

"It's not my fault there's no other way to get ahold of him," Mark says, once Dustin is engrossed in a dumb sitcom.

"Yeah, I know," Dustin says. He pats Mark's knee. "Even though it is your fault, a little bit. You brought this on yourself."

"Let it go," Mark snaps. "He wasn't supposed to say no. I didn't think I needed to ask for his number before asking him out."

"Yeah, but usually you find someone's last name out before you get around to asking them on a date," Dustin says.

Maybe Dustin does. Mark has never paid attention to when or if he learns someone's last name. It took almost a year before he knew Dustin's.

His phone lights up, buzzing against his knee. Dustin snatches it before Mark can react.

"Studio 6, two days, 10 – I think he means Wednesday at 10 – don't forget to..." Dustin trails off. "Ew, dude."

Mark rolls his eyes and takes the phone. "What did you expect?"

"Yeah, but ew," Dustin says. "I don't want to know the things you do with your ass in that much detail."

"Then don't read my texts," Mark says testily, but he holds the phone, with its crudely phrased promise of seeing Eduardo again, close in his curved palm.

---

There's something like impatience twisting in Mark's stomach as he gets into the dressing room. Eduardo's there, bent over and untying his shoes. He twists a little when he hears the door and then he startles, standing upright and turning to stare. Mark, caught in the doorway, stares back. Eduardo looks precisely the same as a month ago, and Mark's urge to learn everything about him hasn't abated.

"Mark," Eduardo says, still looking blankly surprised. "I didn't know we were—"

"Do you know how time-consuming it was to find you?" Mark says. "I had to convince Grams to film us together again."

Eduardo frowns. "You arranged this?" he asks, faintly disbelieving.

"There was no way to see you again," Mark says.

"Of course not," Eduardo says. Mark can't understand his expression.

"You won't let me take you home," Mark says, "but there's no reason we can't film together."

Eduardo blinks again and shakes his head. "I'm not sure how I feel about this."

Mark feels his mouth tighten. "You can always back out of the scene."

"No," Eduardo says, but he sounds distant. "No, I'm not going to do that."

Tension in Mark's chest loosens. "I wanted to see you again," he says.

"Oh," Eduardo says, his face doing something complicated, but at the end his faint, high flush shows, just a little, and Mark thinks the overall result is good. "You, too," he adds, and Mark understands where the blush came from.

"I haven't looked at the script," he says. He doesn't actually even have a script – he shoved his way into the role too quickly.

"Here," Eduardo says quickly. "Come here."

His is out on the counter. He tucks his arm around Mark's shoulders as soon as Mark gets close enough, holding the script in front of them for Mark to read. It's more involved than any other script Mark has done, because this is a higher-budget movie and they make more of an attempt at believability, but it's still only a few pages of intro. Mark doesn't particularly care if he might mess it up, anyway; the longer it takes to film, the more opportunity he has to convince Eduardo he was being an idiot last time.

There's not much to learn, though, and Mark skims through it twice before he turns and watches Eduardo instead. His face is smooth, eyes unfocused as he pretends to read this script, turning pages as Mark pretends to need him to. His hand is warm on Mark's arm through his t-shirt. When he catches Mark watching him, he breathes in a little too sharply and steps back, dropping his hold on Mark.

"You're being irrational," Mark informs him.

"I'm not – what?" Eduardo says.

"Did you look for me?" Mark asks. He's honestly curious. Eduardo seems to be sincere about the "avoiding relationships with costars" thing, which is weird, but whatever. Mark doesn't know whether that precludes him from looking people up online, the way every other normal person Mark has met does at least once in a while. He doesn't expect the dedicated stalking Dustin treats the objects of his affections to, or anywhere near the efficiency and thoroughness he himself possesses, but he wants to know if Eduardo cared to look.

"What?" Eduardo repeats. "No. I mean, no?"

Mark scowls. "Did you search for me online?"

"No!" Eduardo says. He holds his hands up, as if Mark were forcing this out of him. "I wouldn't do that. That'd be creepy."

"Hm," Mark says.

Someone knocks on the dressing room door, yelling for them.

"Why?" Eduardo asks, looking suddenly suspicious.

"It doesn't matter," Mark says.

The knock comes again. Eduardo ignores it again. Mark does, too.

"You looked for me," Eduardo says. "Oh. Of course you did. You said—"

"It doesn't matter," Mark repeats, rolling his eyes.

"No!" Eduardo says. "I didn't mean it like that. I didn't mean to imply you're creepy."

"Wardo," Mark says, "it's fine."

He says it mostly to prevent Eduardo from freaking out any more. It takes a lot more than that to offend Mark, but Eduardo's looking wide-eyed and worried, and Mark, who is not an idiot, knows he didn't mean it like that in the first place.

"Okay," Eduardo says, stalling abruptly. "Um—"

The knock comes again, loud and insistent and unceasing. "Guys, now!" Grams hollers. "Don't make me skin you, Zuckerberg!"

Mark yanks the door open, stepping into the studio. Grams gives him a dirty look before directing them to take their places.

---

They start in the doorway. The edge is sharp along Mark's back where he leans too hard back against it while they run the scene. Mark plays a cheating asshole and Eduardo the jealous boyfriend, and there's about two minutes of dialogue to introduce the plot.

Eduardo looks convincingly betrayed, Mark thinks, even if he also looks a little more desperate than angry. Mark thought the scene was supposed to be angry. He wants to touch Eduardo's face, smooth away the lines until he's smiling and looking stupid again. Grams doesn't call them out on their run-through, so Mark doesn't get a chance to touch him before Grams approves them for filming to start.

They go through the same scene for real this time, Eduardo shouting and Mark looking defensive, and then Eduardo steps forward, shoving Mark up against the doorframe. It hurts when Mark's back hits, and he hisses out through his teeth. Eduardo flinches, just a minuscule amount, and Mark doesn't want to do this part twice, so he goes off-script, spitting out something nasty and trying to egg Eduardo on.

Eduardo looks torn between laughing and looking appalled, but they turn just enough to hide his face from the camera as he "pushes" Mark into the room and he says his next line obediently. Mark raises his eyebrows and lets Eduardo shove him back again, closer to the bed. Before they can reach it, Mark grabs hold of Eduardo's shoulders and kisses him, all teeth and rude words.

Eduardo kisses him back, and he wasn't supposed to, he was supposed to shove Mark fully onto the bed and yank his pants down, shove him around some more while calling him a cheating bastard or a lying whore or something along those lines. But he kisses him back instead, arms going right around Mark, and Mark half-freezes waiting for Grams to yell at them. But it doesn't come, and he opens his mouth to Eduardo's tongue, licking in on a slow warm sweep that doesn't fit the feel of the scene at all. When Eduardo releases him, breathing out in a rush against his face, Mark darts back in immediately, squeezing Eduardo's shoulders. They've already ruined this take, he might as well take advantage of it.

But they kiss again and again and again, and Grams doesn't call cut, and he doesn't and he doesn't. Mark tries to hold onto Eduardo, dizzy from kissing too much too fast too long, and Eduardo's squeezing back just at tightly, that might be why Mark can't breathe, and they fall onto the bed.

Eduardo laughs when he lands on Mark, and Mark shoves half-heartedly at his shoulders. Eduardo does move off of him, just long enough to grab Mark's hips and shove him further onto the bed. Mark snorts, wiggling to try to fix his shirt where it's bunched between his shoulder blades, but Eduardo takes his movement the wrong way and pulls the shirt off of him instead. Mark's nipples are hard, and Eduardo thumbs them, grinning when Mark twitches at it, stomach jumping. Eduardo's warm when he settles back on top of Mark.

He crawls over Mark and Mark spreads his legs, feet falling off the bed. One foot barely brushes one of the metal posts on the bed; he can feel the chill against his toes. Eduardo settles down against him, squirming until he gets them lined up right; then Mark hisses and arches up, and Eduardo grinds down, and his hands tangle tightly in Mark's hair. Mark doesn't mind the tugging, just leans his head back and holds his knees tight around Eduardo's hips.

It's unsatisfying, when they're both still mostly dressed and their legs are dangling halfway off the bed. Mark runs his hands down Eduardo's shoulders, around his side and to his belly, where he digs his knuckles into the soft flesh until Eduardo moves enough for Mark to get his hands in there.

He tugs impatiently at Eduardo's pants, yanking at the button and trying to get the fucking jeans undone. Eduardo moves, but instead of helping he pulls away, off the bed, and stands up. He reaches for Mark's jeans, and Mark holds still while he pulls them off, kicking to free his ankles. Eduardo tosses them to the side, and Mark sits up, tangling his fingers in the hem of Eduardo's shirt and yanking it up. Eduardo laughs and raises his arms, and when he brings them back down he hugs Mark, playful and close around his shoulders.

"Roll over," Eduardo says.

Mark does after a second, puzzled, and he gets on hands on knees; but Eduardo kisses his shoulder and puts a hand on his back and pushes him down onto the bed. Eduardo kisses down his spine, straddling Mark's hips, and he digs his thumbs in on either side of Mark's spine, like a massage. Mark groans.

"Shh, you're so loud," Eduardo chides him, mocking, and Mark grunts back.

Eduardo pushes his fingers into Mark, the lube from Mark's own fingers earlier easing the way. He bites gently at Mark's shoulder and then his neck, up to his ear where he murmurs, "The condoms are under the pillows."

Mark fumbles one out, tearing it open sloppily and handing it back to Eduardo, since he seems to be occupied sucking hickeys into every square inch of Mark's back. Eduardo's weight leaves him for just a minute, and the cold air feels like a shock against Mark's skin. He twists his head, casting around, but then Eduardo is settling back over him, kissing his cheek in a completely incongruous counterpoint to the heat of his cock pressing into Mark.

Mark groans again, pushing his hips up as best he can, and Eduardo slides all the way into him easily and then goes still, rubbing his face against Mark's shoulder.

Somewhere along the line they've fallen off-script, Mark realizes fuzzily. They were supposed to be nasty to each other, Mark was supposed to mouth off and Eduardo was supposed to slap him around a little, and then they were supposed to fuck and get off and go home. This scene was just supposed to be standard-issue hardcore.

Not this, with Eduardo cradling Mark and touching him all over and Mark clearly acting desperate instead of reluctant. It's still quiet on set, though, just the nearly silent movement of cameras and the soft rush of the air conditioning turned up too high. Mark can hear his own bitten-off sounds.

Eduardo says something too low for Mark to catch. Mark lifts his head, trying to ask, and Eduardo catches his mouth. It's barely a kiss, it's a horrible angle for it, and Mark pants out and drops back down, straining for breath after holding himself up under all of Eduardo's weight. Eduardo bites behind his ear and moves.

Mark clenches tightly, trying to hold Eduardo inside even though he wants just as badly to get fucked as he does to stay just like this. Eduardo moans and bites his shoulder, clearly a rebuke though Mark has no idea how this is supposed to be his fault.

Eduardo does fuck him, slow and regular and an unsatisfactory tease, until Mark has his fingers clenched in the bedspread and he's groaning through gritted teeth because at this point, he wants anything.

"I'm sorry," Eduardo says in a strained whisper, when Mark reaches back and scratches at his hip. "I thought you'd look pretty like this, but I didn't think about how inconvenient it would be."

"I can't even reach my dick," Mark says, and he means to sound angry or frustrated but instead just sounds pathetic.

"Ugh," Eduardo groans, as if he's actually sympathetic, the asshole, but he pulls out of Mark.

Mark snaps, "Hey—" before Eduardo grabs his leg and starts rolling him over, and Mark gets the idea.

He spreads his legs. Eduardo grabs behind one of his knees, pulling it around his hips, and Mark closes his eyes as Eduardo pushes back in. It feels less intimate this way, less private; he can see the cameras overhead and off to the side, and the hover of people just beyond that. It also means Eduardo can get a hand around his dick, though, and Mark's not going to complain. Eduardo thrusts into him harder, moaning as he does it, and Mark is mildly gratified to discover that he still hates the sounds.

The position's better, but it's not great. Eduardo can't get as deep, and after a couple of minutes the strain of keeping his hips in place is starting to threaten in Mark's thighs. Eduardo, from the way he keeps readjusting his hold on Mark's knee, digging his fingers in harder each time, isn't doing much better.

"Let me—" Mark says, sucking his lip into his mouth and tasting the sweat gathered there, and Eduardo releases his leg for the last time and leans down to kiss him. Mark runs his hands up and down Eduardo's back, over the sticky skin, and makes an inadvertent noise when Eduardo stops kissing too soon.

"Do you want," Eduardo says, and Mark grumbles, "I'm not moving."

Eduardo laughs into his ear, an alarming puff of nearly-silent breath, and then says, "I was going to suggest we put you on all fours, so I can get at you better."

Mark is annoyed, but his skin is also flushed hot. He wraps his arms around Eduardo's neck and pulls him down, holding him close.

Mark jerks himself off, because while that's not as satisfying as when Eduardo did it, Eduardo is mouthing at Mark's neck and down over his nipples, running his fingers everywhere, and Mark feels hot all over. He won't come like this, but Eduardo will, and Mark can watch him and touch him all over.

When Eduardo comes he digs his fingers into Mark's hips. Mark groans, probably inaudible under Eduardo's noises, and clenches on Eduardo's cock to listen to him whine.

"If you could get off on getting fucked—" Eduardo starts, and Mark says, "You're a pain in the ass," because no, he doesn't have a sense of humor when he's sexually frustrated.

Eduardo laughs and licks his way down Mark's chest, which feels kind of disgusting but looks really hot. He twists one of Mark's nipples, brutally hard, and Mark yelps and slaps at his arm. Eduardo is still laughing when he slides the fingers of his other hand back into Mark and licks over the head of Mark's cock.

He's quick about it, at least; he doesn't tease. Mark yanks at his hair, both because he's desperate and because he decides Eduardo deserves it for the nipple thing, and tries to pretend his legs aren't shaking. Eduardo swallows quick and clean when Mark comes, then crawls up to kiss him.

Mark only lets himself kiss back for a few moments before climbing wearily to his feet. Grams waves them off wordlessly and the set explodes back into life. Mark hauls Eduardo into the dressing room with him.

"That was…not what we were supposed to do," Eduardo says. He leans back against the door as soon as it's shut, closing his eyes.

"No," Mark agrees. He steps away from Eduardo, but only about a foot.

"They might make us come in and re-film," Eduardo says.

"They won't," Mark says. Grams never said a word. They'll use it.

"Oh," Eduardo says. He pushes away from the door, edging around Mark. His eyes are cast towards the floor.

Mark grabs Eduardo's wrist before he can go to the showers. "Tell me you don't want to see me again," he says. Eduardo smells good, like clean sweat and Mark. Mark doesn't understand why he feels the need to shower.

Eduardo's hand is warm on the back of his neck when he touches Mark. "I do," he says. "I do want to see you again."

"We can keep doing porn," Mark says.

"Or I can agree to date you," Eduardo says. He snorts and meets Mark's eyes. "I see where this is going."

"I'll settle for porn if you insist," Mark says. "But you have to tell me your last name and phone number."

"Saverin," Eduardo says.

"Saverin," Mark repeats suspiciously, narrowing his eyes.

Eduardo snorts what might be a laugh, nodding. "Yes, yeah. My last name. Saverin."

"And your phone number?" Mark says.

Eduardo reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out his phone. "Give me yours."

Mark rattles it off, and Eduardo taps away, and a short while later Mark's own phone buzzes. He checks, and it's a message, presumably from Eduardo, containing only :).

"Don't use emoticons," Mark demands. "I hate them, they're moronic."

"Alright," Eduardo says agreeably.

"You're the type of person who uses emoticons all the time," Mark says.

"Yes," Eduardo says, just as agreeably.

"Fine," Mark says.

"If my texting has met your approval," Eduardo says, grinning a little, "and since you've got my last name and phone number, you should ask me out again."

"Would it be worth it?" Mark asks.

"I'm going to say yes, if that's what you mean," Eduardo says.

"Good," Mark says and smiles.

---

Three days later, Mark is just leaving his apartment to meet Eduardo at a restaurant downtown when he gets a text.

Running late. Meet you in a couple hours or rain check?

He hasn't exactly been worried about the date – Dustin took care of that for him, fretting and trying to bother people around the studio for hints about what Eduardo's like. Nobody had been able to help him, because, true to his word, nobody besides Mark has ever seen Eduardo outside of work.

Mark hadn't been worried at all once Dustin told him that, and he'd spent the next two days waiting with the semi-required patience.

This, however, doesn't bode well.

Mark frowns. Why?

Pet emergency. My cat is sick but I can't get her out of my apartment so we can go to the vet

Mark rolls his eyes. Eduardo would be the type to lose a battle with a cat. What's your address?

There's a long wait, during which Mark debates going back into his apartment. He already has Eduardo's address. He had looked it up, along with almost everything else about Eduardo, as soon as he got home that first evening. So he already has the address, but unless Eduardo volunteers the information, there's no way he can get away with showing up. It's not as if he particularly wants to help Eduardo with his cat, but when the other option is not seeing Eduardo at all, Mark will take the cat.

Just as he is about to give up and go back upstairs, his phone chirps. Mark sees the numbers spelled out on the screen and slides into his car.

The apartment complex is a lot like Mark's: middle-range, fairly nice, some young parents with younger kids playing on the sidewalks and in the parking lot. Mark parks in front of Eduardo's building and takes the stairs up to the top floor. He knocks and then waits, shoving his hands into his pockets.

"Hey," Eduardo says, opening the door almost immediately. His face is drawn and he looks worried, but he still smiles when he sees Mark.

"Where's your cat?" Mark says.

The cat is lying on the couch, flat on her side, panting intermittently. She growls as soon as Eduardo approaches her. When Mark comes over too, she switches to hissing, but runs out of breath to do it.

"So why can't you take her to the vet?" Mark asks. The carrier is on the floor by the couch, there's a little blanket set on top of it, and the cat is clearly located within reach.

"I can't pick her up!" Eduardo says, and reaches a hand out. As soon as he lays it on the cat's side, she screams, shrieking at the top of her feline lungs. It's an ungodly sound. When Eduardo removes his hand, she subsides back to growling.

"Nice cat," Mark says.

Eduardo glowers. "She doesn't know any better. She's new to being a pet, I think."

Mark stares at him. "She's not really yours, is she?"

"She is," Eduardo says defensively. "The apartment complex was going to have her put down if nobody claimed her."

"You have a feral cat dying on your couch," Mark says.

"She wouldn't be dying if she'd let me take her to the vet!" Eduardo says. "She hasn't figured out that I'm trying to help her. I've been feeding her for two months and she still doesn't trust me."

"She'd be happier if she were dying outside," Mark says. He tries to touch the cat too. The same result is produced.

"She's not going to die," Eduardo says firmly.

"Well, then we'd better get her in the carrier," Mark says, and scoops her up.

She screams the whole way down to the car. Some kids by Mark's car stop and stare at them. Eduardo waves awkwardly and says, "We're taking her to the vet. She's just scared."

Once in the car, she shuts up. The switch is so abrupt that Eduardo, in the front passenger seat, twists around to stare into the carrier. "Did she pass out?"

"Hopefully," Mark mutters. He jumps when Eduardo slaps his shoulder. "Hey!"

"Sorry," Eduardo says. "But that was uncalled for. She's ill."

"Stupid cat," Mark mutters, and follows Eduardo's directions to the emergency Animal Clinic.

The cat starts screaming again as soon as Eduardo grabs the carrier from the backseat. "Maybe she just likes the car," he says.

Mark, who has never heard of such a thing, shrugs. The nurse, vet assistants, whatever they are, give them some of the nastiest looks Mark has ever seen as soon as they push through the doors. Eduardo rushes up to the desk, babbling about the not-his cat with the literal caterwauling as background punctuation.

Mark looks at the viciously frowning woman who's listening to Eduardo speak and heads to the other side of the waiting room, claiming a chair in the corner.

It's not all bad. From this vantage point he can watch Eduardo, the way he moves his whole body around as he tries to convey his utter cluelessness about the cat to the unimpressed woman. When she reaches in to try to touch the cat, making soft shushing sounds, the cat positively wails. It scratches her, and she yanks her hand back out. Eduardo winces and repeats endless apologies, and another vet assistant comes to help.

They take the carrier to a back room, and Mark weighs his newly-developed hatred for that cat against his curiosity, then gets up to see how they're planning on doing this.

They're not doing much planning. They've shoved Eduardo away, and are currently peering into the crate at the cat. Neither seems too willing to reach in and grab her.

Mark watches them for a moment, while Eduardo stands stiff next to him, fairly vibrating with worry – over a cat that doesn't even like him, Mark does not understand this – and then he sighs.

"Move," he snaps.

The first assistant gives him a dirty look and tries to hold him back. Mark moves around to the other side of the table, undoes the four latches on the carrier, and lifts the whole lid off. The bitchy cat is left exposed, hunkered down in the bottom half of the carrier.

It's silent for a moment as everyone adjusts to their surprise. Eduardo looks like an idiot, gaping between the cat and Mark. The two assistants are just staring at him. The cat is blinking in the light and frozen in fear.

"Jesus Christ," Mark mutters, and walks back out to the waiting room.

Eduardo joins him a little more than a minute later. "They got her sedated," he says.

"Good for them," Mark says.

Eduardo sits in the chair next to Mark's, stiffly. "So that was embarrassing."

Mark agrees, but he says, "More for them than for you."

"This whole situation is a little embarrassing for me," Eduardo says.

"A little?" Mark says.

"Oh, shut up," Eduardo mutters, flushing. Mark pretends to flip through the magazines on the side table, because he can't help smiling and he doesn't want Eduardo to get the wrong idea – he really does not approve of any of this.

Eduardo leans over Mark to dig through the magazines, too. Mark, having selected Popular Science, presses himself stiffly back into his chair and glares down at Eduardo's head. Eduardo, once he's grabbed a travel magazine – Mark is relieved he didn't go for one of the gossip rags; he might've actually had to give up on Eduardo if he had – leans back into his own chair and smiles over at Mark, a little sly.

Mark frowns back and adjusts himself in his seat, abruptly uncomfortable with their proximity. He tries to read but pays more attention to the pattern of Eduardo's breathing and the rustle of the pages turning. Eduardo, after a few minutes, lays his hand on Mark's thigh; Mark gives up on the magazine entirely and stares uncomprehendingly at its pages, hoping the fucking cat will be done soon.

"Mr. Saverin?" the second assistant says, coming out. "The vet is done looking at her if you want to come in."

Eduardo grabs Mark's elbow as he stands, towing Mark with him wordlessly. Mark makes a haphazard toss but misses the table, the magazine flapping sadly to the floor. "I hope she's okay," Eduardo mutters under his breath, and Mark pats his wrist awkwardly with his own free hand.

"Mr. Saverin," the vet says. She's a middle-aged, smiling woman. "I hear your cat has quite the personality."

"She was a stray," Eduardo says. "She's still adjusting."

Mark snorts.

"Right, well," the vet says, smile widening. "She has a bladder infection. It's swollen up her abdomen and made movement difficult for her. You've noticed a decrease in her food and water intake recently?"

"A little," Eduardo says. "But she never ate much before, and I thought it was just the heat."

Mark doesn't point out that the apartment the cat inhabits is, courtesy of Eduardo, air-conditioned. The vet just nods knowledgeably.

"Well, I've given her a strong shot of antibiotics, and sedated her further. She should stay asleep for another couple of hours, and she might be drowsy for a while after that. I'm going to give you a couple of prescriptions for her, and you can bring her to your regular vet in three days for a check up. She'll probably have to be on antibiotics for a couple of weeks." The vet strokes a hand over the cat's side. She's breathing shallow and regular, completely limp on the table. It's a little creepy.

"Thank you," Eduardo says, sounding relieved. He finally releases Mark's elbow.

"If you and your boyfriend can watch her carefully for the next six hours," the vet says, "that'd be great. Allergic reactions to the meds usually show up pretty early, but just in case something happens."

"Right, yes," Eduardo says.

Mark rubs at his elbow and wonders why the vet thinks they're boyfriends.

"She really is beautiful," the vet says, still petting the cat. Objectively, she probably is, but Mark thinks that all her attitude wouldn't be worth it if she were a pureblood show cat.

The vet assistants load the cat back into the carrier, snapping the lid back on. Eduardo pays at the front desk and the vet assistant shoves the carrier into Mark's hand. He takes it, blinking, and then goes outside to deposit it in his car. He decides, after a minute, to strap it in properly this time, looping the seatbelt through the handle, because if he gets in an accident on the way home he doesn't want to die of cat carrier-induced head trauma.

"Thank you," Eduardo says quietly, coming up behind him.

Mark finishes buckling the seatbelt and shuts the door. "Yeah," he says. "Did you get the prescriptions?"

Eduardo holds up a white bag and Mark nods.

On the way back to Eduardo's apartment, the car is eerily silent except for the cat in the back, who can be heard to make faint wheezing sounds every couple of breaths. "What's her name?" Mark asks.

"Oh," Eduardo says. "Just Cat."

Mark blinks and turns to look at Eduardo quizzically. "You went to all the effort to rescue a cat from your apartment complex, and later save her from death by bladder infection, and you haven't named her?"

"I have named her," Eduardo says, "and please watch the road."

Mark rolls his eyes but looks forward again. It's after seven and they're on the outskirts of the city – there's little to no traffic. "You named her Cat," he says.

"It's short for Catherine," Eduardo says. "After one of the kids in the apartment below mine."

Mark finds this even more annoying than a cat just named Cat. Of course Eduardo named his rescued feral pet after a female child who lives near him. The girl also probably had leukemia. He scowls at the cat carrier through the rearview mirror.

"And Catherine is a perfectly acceptable name for a cat," Eduardo says. "I don't have to worry about any of the kids being unable to pronounce it."

"Do you have a lot of kids running through your apartment to bother your pets?" Mark asks impulsively. "No wonder she doesn't like you."

Eduardo smiles and laughs a little. Mark hazards a quick glance over. He's relaxed again, finally, and he's looking back at the cat carrier fondly. "No, she doesn't get many visitors," Eduardo says. "The kids ask me about her, usually. Everyone remembers her from when she was just a stray. Maybe if I brought more of them in she wouldn't hate people so much."

"Or maybe she would've found a way to kill herself earlier," Mark says, who wouldn't put that past any animal, never mind a cat as antisocial and vicious as that one.

"Implying she's tried to kill herself now?" Eduardo says, and Mark winces but Eduardo doesn't get angry. "Yeah, you're probably right."

They arrive at Eduardo's apartment and unload the cat. Eduardo opens the door for Mark. It turns out he didn't even lock it before they left, and Mark wonders if he really trusts his neighbors that much or whether he was honestly that worried about the cat.

"I'm sorry about our date," Eduardo says.

Mark sets the carrier on the couch. He opens the door. The cat, still drugged to sleep, doesn't so much as twitch. Mark peers in at her and decides she's almost cute when she's passed out and silent. "It's okay," he says, and is surprised to realize he means it.

Eduardo isn't smiling when Mark turns back around, which is such a change that Mark almost stops to stare for a minute. Instead he's got his head slightly tilted and he's just watching Mark. Mark shifts on the balls of his feet, hunching slightly.

"Do you want a drink?" Eduardo asks. "I have beer."

"Yes," Mark says.

They end up on the couch, the three of them: Eduardo, Mark, and the cat in her carrier. A full six-pack later and they're watching I Love Lucy, because Eduardo claims it's his right to choose what they watch in his apartment. Mark, who operates under those rules in his own apartment, can't argue.

"I love this show," Eduardo says, a little drunkenly. "It's so happy."

"Your cat isn't dead," Mark says. She's just twitched a little, and one eye has slitted open.

"I'm very glad," Eduardo says. "Really, thank you."

"Ye—" Mark says, turning to Eduardo and making sure to keep all of his body parts well away from the open carrier door when Eduardo kisses him.

Mark was expecting this. He would've been incredibly disappointed, in fact, if he went through all of this without getting at least a kiss. Eduardo's more serious than Mark was expecting though. He leans away for a moment, setting his bottle on the coffee table, and then his hand catches Mark's, taking that bottle and setting it aside too.

His palm is clammy from condensation when he grabs Mark's hand, lacing their fingers together. Mark squeezes back, instinctive clutching, and opens his mouth to Eduardo's kiss. Eduardo tastes like beer and his tongue is still a little cool with the tang of the refrigerated beer. Mark hums and shivers when Eduardo releases his hand to pull him closer.

"Thank you," Eduardo breathes, and Mark breaks away.

"You're welcome," he says, "now stop saying that. I helped you take your cat to the vet. It was maybe two hours out of my day."

"You just don't seem like the type to do things like that often," Eduardo says. It doesn't sound like a dig at Mark; instead, as he rubs his thumb over the back of Mark's hand, it feels like he's saying thank you again.

"And you do it all the goddamn time, of course," Mark mutters, and ignores his face getting hot. "You owe me."

"Yes," Eduardo agrees, and releases Mark's hand. "We'll do a real date later?"

"Or we could get food now," Mark says.

"Oh, yeah," Eduardo says, starting to smile again. "Do you want to order in?"

"You're not going to make it yourself?" Mark says.

"I'm not confident enough in my abilities," Eduardo says. "Giving you food poisoning would definitely ruin what's left of tonight's potential."

"Not really," Mark says. "But we can order pizza."

Eduardo gives him an odd look, half puzzled and half amused, but he agrees.

Mark only puts up with I Love Lucy until the pizza comes. When Eduardo gets up to pay, Mark steals the remote and flips until he finds a movie channel. Whatever the movie was, it's just credits playing now, but Mark thinks that will still get the point across.

Eduardo, instead of bringing the pizza in, goes to the kitchen.

"Hey!" Mark calls.

"I'm getting plates," Eduardo calls back. "Impatient."

"Plates?" Mark says blankly. "It's pizza."

"Yes, plates," Eduardo says firmly, and hands him one. Plus napkins. Mark shakes his head wordlessly and decides it'd be easier to just go with it.

They finish the pizza and Mark asks, "What time is it?"

"A little before nine," Eduardo says. "Do you need to go?"

"I'm not leaving until the cat's okay," Mark says. He doesn't give a fuck about the cat – who, after that first feeble movement, has only barely slitted her eyes open once or twice; she hasn't even mustered the energy for a tail twitch – but it's a convenient excuse.

"You don't have to leave even when she is," Eduardo says.

Mark nods.

The movie gets ignored as they kiss some more, Mark fumbling close to Eduardo so he doesn't bump into the cat carrier.

Everything goes well, much better than it has so far, and then the cat perks up.

"Ugh," Eduardo says, as the first low, menacing growl permeates the room.

Mark twists, staring into the carrier. "She's not even fucking awake."

"We should give her some peace," Eduardo says.

Mark narrows his eyes. "You want to give the cat some peace."

"I just meant," Eduardo says, smiling and catching Mark's wrist, "that I have other rooms. Like my bedroom."

"Oh," Mark says. "Okay."

Eduardo's bedroom is much neater than Mark's. It's like the rest of the apartment that way. Mark ignores Eduardo, who's mumbling something about "his mess" while he puts the one pair of shoes Mark can see in the closet, and crawls onto the bed.

"Hi," Eduardo says, coming over to him.

Mark moves further back onto the bed, making room for Eduardo. Eduardo follows him.

"You mentioned," he says, pushing Mark onto his back, "something about fucking me without a script."

"No," Mark blurts, and then wonders what the hell is wrong with him. "Yes. I mean I don't care."

Eduardo pauses above him. His eyes are bright and really warm, though his mouth is only curved up a little. "I know," he says. He settles down against Mark, and Mark spreads his legs to hold him between his thighs. It brings back sense memories of the last time they were like this, and Mark feels his pulse pick up.

They kiss for a long time, for too long, until Mark feels half-sleepy and hot. Eduardo is warm and grounding on top of Mark. He combs through Mark's hair while they make out, sucking on Mark's tongue while he tugs on his curls, and Mark is starting to suspect Eduardo has a thing for his hair.

Mark can't take it as long as Eduardo can. He twists his face away, finding cool sheets with his cheek and panting. He braces his hands on Eduardo's shoulders and considers pushing him off.

"What do you want?" Eduardo whispers, sound buzzing against Mark's mouth, and Mark goes from pushing to abruptly pulling close again.

"Are we talking in general, or—" he asks, dazed, and Eduardo, instead of laughing, bites at his collarbone.

"You saved my cat," Eduardo says, "that deserves at least one orgasm. We have no script. What do you want?"

"Hands," Mark says, discarding all sarcasm or disgust about the cat in favor of honesty. "Hands, I just want you to—"

"Like that first day?" Eduardo says. He palms Mark over his jeans.

"Yes," Mark hisses.

Eduardo hums, tucking his face into Mark's neck. He's smiling, smug, but he unzips Mark's jeans and slips his hand inside, and Mark doesn't care.

Eduardo apparently remembers the first day, squeezing tight and twisting and pressing his thumb over the head every time Mark can't help his hips thrusting up, and he watches the whole time, holding himself up on an elbow and head angled down while he gets Mark off. Mark doesn't watch like Eduardo does; instead he watches Eduardo, his hair and the movement of his arm and the way, when he blinks, Mark can just see the shadow of his eyelashes on his cheeks.

Mark comes easily because he feels like he's been on a slow burn for the last couple of hours, if not all evening, and also it's plausible he might have a thing for his hair, too, at least when Eduardo's touching it.

"Really," Eduardo says, head heavy on Mark's shoulder and arm draped over his middle. He licked his hand clean – which Mark did not think was hot, it was probably a disgusting habit he's assimilated after too many years doing porn – and then sprawled half on top of Mark. Mark can feel his erection against his hip, and he's working on getting his hand down there, but he also kind of wants to sleep and Eduardo's not giving him the incentive to get moving.

"Really," Mark parrots back and yawns.

Eduardo laughs and kisses the side of his nose. Mark twists to stare at him, because what the fuck?

"Really," Eduardo says, "thank you for today."

"Shut up," Mark says, "don't say that again," by which he means, you're welcome. Then he sucks his lip into his mouth and rubs the heel of his hand against Eduardo's dick and says, "You want me to blow you again?"

Eduardo's loud moan is sufficient enough answer. Mark smirks and leans down to get to work, and really means I'd do it again.

---

Mark wakes up and his back is cold. He gropes around behind him, but when he's unable to locate the sheets he blinks his eyes open. Eduardo isn't next to him, and Mark considers his options: he can go back to sleep, or he can get up and make sure Eduardo's cat didn't murder him in the dark of night.

"Good morning," Eduardo says warmly as soon as Mark steps out of the bedroom. He's standing by the microwave, which is lit up and humming away. He's wearing pajama pants, which makes Mark glad he put his boxers on before he came out. The cat is crunching food from a bowl on the counter.

Mark says, "You feed it on the counter?"

"I put the food up here in hopes she'll let her guard down and I can grab her," Eduardo says sheepishly. "I'm supposed to squirt her medicine into her mouth with the syringe, but I don't know how I'm supposed to catch her long enough to do it."

Mark rolls his eyes and steps into the kitchen. Eduardo, when Mark is close enough, reaches out and tugs him close. He kisses the side of Mark's head and asks, "Do you want oatmeal?"

"Is that what you're making?" Mark asks.

"Yeah," Eduardo says. The microwave dings.

"No," Mark says, wrinkling his nose and stepping away.

The cat lifts her head, eyeing him warily. He asks, "Where's the medicine?"

"In the fridge," Eduardo says. He's stirring the oatmeal; Mark can smell it. "She needs one dropperful."

Mark grabs the bottle and sucks up a milliliter of the nasty off-white liquid. It smells somewhat like bleach, and he does not envy the cat. "She's still injured," Mark says, at Eduardo's look. "It won't be that hard to catch her."

Unfortunately, it's not exactly easy, either. She sees Mark coming and takes off, throwing herself off the counter and fleeing. Mark traps her in the bathroom without too much trouble, and then corners her in the bathtub, and finally scoops her up around the middle and shoves the dropper in her mouth, squeezing the plunger down.

She makes a noise like she's dying and Mark lets her go, and when he opens the door again Eduardo is standing in front of it, bowl of oatmeal and spoon in hand, puzzled expression on his face. "You didn't have to do that," he says.

"Oatmeal or the cat," Mark says, shrugging. "I hate oatmeal." Besides, it needed to be done, and from what Mark's seen, it probably would've taken Eduardo two hours to do it.

"Of course," Eduardo says, face contorting with something like smothered amusement. "Come on, I'm watching cartoons."

Mark would normally rather shoot himself, but Eduardo waits until he sits down and then leans against him, and even if the cartoons are dumb and the oatmeal smells overpoweringly bad and Eduardo apparently has a sense of humor dumb enough to rival Dustin's, Mark is perfectly content where he is.

After more than an hour's worth of cartoons, when Mark has given up the fight and started dozing off with his head propped back against the couch, Eduardo turns and touches his face gently and says, "I really like you."

Mark doesn't trust that phrase. He focuses on Eduardo, holding still while he gets kissed gently. "You, too," he says, when Eduardo has pulled back and a response still seems to be required.

"I want to see you again," Eduardo says. "As soon as possible."

"You're kicking me out," Mark says.

"I have to go somewhere this weekend," Eduardo says. He looks guilty. "I'm sorry. I'd stay if I could."

Mark shrugs and yawns. "When will you be back?"

"Two days," Eduardo says. "I'll see you then?"

"Sure," Mark says. He stands up, stretching, and follows Eduardo into the bedroom to get his clothes. "Where are you going?"

"Oh," Eduardo says. He waves his hand. "Just a convention."

"Like a fan convention?" Mark asks blankly.

"No, like a technology convention," Eduardo says. He smiles at Mark. "I've got a friend who's presenting one of the talks and I promised I'd be there."

"Okay," Mark says, frowning. He wonders what sort of friends Eduardo would have to make technology presentations and takes his shirt when Eduardo hands it to him.

Eduardo leads him out. There's a break where Mark grabs his keys and Eduardo crowds him up against the counter, kissing him slow and deep. Mark runs his hands over Eduardo's bare skin, playing his fingers along the waistband of the pajama pants, and wonders why they didn't have morning sex. Eduardo's mouth is warm and doesn't even taste like oatmeal anymore, just faintly of honey.

When they stop kissing it's because the cat, eating again on the counter, knocks her food bowl off. Kibble goes everywhere. Mark is sure she has to be doing it on purpose.

"Oh," Eduardo says, looking at her. "That reminds me."

Mark raises an eyebrow. Eduardo hunches a little, running his palms up and down Mark's sides, and asks, "Would you mind taking her while I'm gone?"

"Taking her?" Mark repeats.

"You're so good with her," Eduardo starts, but Mark snorts and he amends, "You're better than anyone else with her. I was just going to leave her food and water, but since she needs to meds now, too…" he trails off, looking hopeful. Mark doesn't know what to say. "You don't have to, of course," Eduardo adds. "I could ask one of my neighbors. I just don't know how reliable that would be, and she doesn't know any of them—"

Mark nods and kisses him, just to shut him up, because the attempt at guilt tripping is obvious and shameless, but it's also working and Mark doesn't like saying goodbye to this much of his dignity but there's not much else to be done.

Eduardo loads him down with all the cat's accoutrements, from litter box to food bowl. He even tucks the two bottles of medicine into a ziplock bag with some ice to keep them cool as directed. Then he gets dressed, a neat t-shirt and jeans that look pressed, and helps Mark put everything in his car. The asphalt is radiating heat already, and there are kids running around, some of which wave happily at Eduardo.

The cat is the last thing to grab, and inside Eduardo's apartment, he grabs Mark again and thanks him. Mark kisses him, sick of hearing those words, and tries to nudge him toward the bedroom.

"I have to leave in less than three hours," Eduardo says regretfully, pulling back. "I'm driving. And I'm not packed yet."

Mark makes a frustrated noise and releases his grip on Eduardo's belt loops. "Fine. I'm going to catch the cat."

She still seems to be cowed from earlier, hunkering down noiselessly when Mark approaches. She doesn't attempt to flee, and it's easy enough to shove her into the carrier.

"I think she's starting to like you," Eduardo says, grinning.

"Fuck off," Mark says. That's just uncalled for.

Eduardo grins harder and kisses his cheek. "I'll see you soon," he promises.

Mark nods and takes Eduardo's cat out to his car.

---

Mark hasn't heard from Eduardo in three days, and he was supposed to be home yesterday.

"You could call him," Dustin says. "Stop whining."

"I'm not whining," Mark says, disgusted. He mentioned, once, how it's a little worrying that Eduardo hasn't texted him yet.

Dustin rolls his eyes. "Oh, no, what if he doesn't like your dick as much as you thought!'" he says.

Mark says, "He does like my dick, but he likes my mouth more."

"Oh, Jesus," Dustin says, looking less amused suddenly. "Okay, first of all, when you do talk to him, don't open with discussion of dicks or mouths or asses or anything else you two rub on each other."

"No shit," Mark says.

Dustin ignores him. "Second of all, call him. Don't be a fucking baby. You can make the first move."

"I've made all the first moves," Mark points out.

"Keep making them," Dustin says. "It's good for you. You're not being lazy for once in your life."

"Whatever," Mark says.

"You have his cat," Dustin says. "He has to see you at least once more. Call him and tell him you're worried about its health."

Mark made the mistake of telling Dustin about the cat. He meant to complain – he was complaining, actually – but Dustin had started going on about how it was the cutest fucking thing ever, as if homicidal felines made for ideal date conditions.

"Dude, you got laid, didn't you?" Dustin had pointed out.

"We've already had sex," Mark had said. "I would've gotten laid if all we'd done was gone rollerblading."

"Do you even know how to rollerblade?" Dustin had asked, and that was really the last of the conversation Mark had bothered paying attention to.

"I'm not relying on the cat," Mark says. "I don't need an excuse to call."

"You don't need an excuse," Dustin agrees. "But believe me when I say that you can use all the help you can get, and that's a good, hard-to-fuck-up opener."

"Fuck you," Mark says.

"Did you leave anything behind in his apartment?" Dustin asks. "Anything to give you an excuse to go over there?"

"What?" Mark says blankly. "No."

"You have to use the cat," Dustin says, nodding.

"I'm going home," Mark says, scowling.

"Good boy," Dustin says. "Call me when you're done and tell me what you two talked about."

"No," Mark says and gets off the couch.

"You know, I'm still kind of wondering how you're going to pull this off," Dustin says.

"I can date," Mark says defensively.

"No, I mean the porn-and-relationships thing," Dustin says. Dustin had voiced the same concerns as Eduardo when Mark admitted why Eduardo turned him down at first, which had surprised Mark. He hadn't thought Dustin was taking any of this seriously. "You're kind of a possessive asshole."

"I don't care if he fucks other people," Mark says.

"Just so long as he doesn't like them," Dustin says.

"Exactly," Mark says. It's not that complicated.

"This won't go wrong," Dustin mutters.

***
END PART TWO?
***

So Mark decides to call Eduardo. He has to drink two beers before he takes out his phone and pulls up Eduardo's number.

When Eduardo answers on the second ring he sounds tired. "Hello?"

"Hi," Mark says blankly.

"Hi," Eduardo says back, just as blankly. "Mark."

"Yes," Mark says slowly, narrowing his eyes at his wall. Eduardo doesn't sound happy at all.

"Right," Eduardo says. "Hold on a moment."

Then the line goes silent. Mark pulls his phone away from his ear and stares at it, and then reluctantly settles further down on his couch and puts his phone back up by his ear. The cat comes sneakily out of his bedroom, eyeing him, then apparently decides all is well. She jumps onto the back of the couch, settling in the middle. She's gotten much too comfortable in the seventy-two hours she's been living at Mark's apartment, and Mark wants her gone. She's usually not too disruptive, except for the times when she decides it's been too long since she made her existence known. Right now, she's near enough to Mark's head that he can hear her breathing, loud in the silence of the apartment. Mark leans forward and turns the TV on.

"Right, Mark, hello?" Eduardo says, line clicking back on.

Mark almost drops the remote. "Yes," he says.

Eduardo sighs. "Hello. I'm sorry."

"Where are you?" Mark asks.

"About half an hour from your apartment," Eduardo says. "I was going through a drive through to get food just now. I'm getting home late. I got started talking to an old friend – the one who was presenting, I told you – and ended up staying the night in her hotel room, and I didn't get going today until late. I'm sorry I didn't call you."

"Of course," Mark says shortly. The cat takes this moment to lean forward and scratch the back of his neck, and he yelps, lurching away.

"Mark?" Eduardo asks, voice tinny. "Are you okay?"

"Fucking cat," Mark hisses. He rubs his neck and comes away with a faint smear of blood. "I'm going to skin you," he tells her.

"Ah," Eduardo says. "I'll be there in half an hour, please don't kill her just yet?"

"Fine," Mark says grumpily, scowling at the horrible animal, and hangs up his phone.

True to his word, Eduardo knocks at Mark's door a little more than half an hour later. Mark and the cat have declared another truce – Mark moved to the armchair and the cat stayed on the couch, whatever, nobody's bleeding anymore – and Mark has turned on some nineties sitcom, which he's ignoring in favor of his laptop.

He jumps a little when the knock comes, but he knows it has to be Eduardo – even if Eduardo hadn't said he was on his way, nobody else who visits Mark ever knocks, least of all someone who would visit at almost midnight. He opens the door to be greeted with the sight of Eduardo, dark and sleepy-eyed, blinking blearily at him under bags of Mexican fast food.

"I brought you some, too," he says, "in repayment for watching the cat."

"She's not dead yet," Mark informs him, and steps aside to let him in.

"You're very sorry to have to report," Eduardo says, mouth quirking up.

"I never laid a hand on her," Mark protests, quite truthfully. Except for the medicine, he's avoided any dealings with the feline.

Eduardo sets the food on the kitchen table, looking around curiously. Mark's apartment isn't quite as nice as Eduardo's; he puts a lot less effort into homemaking than Eduardo seemed to. He doesn't have live plants on his coffee table. Eduardo doesn't seem to care.

"I'm sorry I—" Eduardo starts, interrupting himself with a yawn. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I meant to call."

Mark shrugs. "It doesn't matter."

"Or at least text you," Eduardo continues, "just to let you know what was going on."

"You got caught up with your friend," Mark says.

"Yeah," Eduardo says. He starts taking food out of the bags and tries to hand a box to Mark.

Mark steps back, shoving his hands in his pockets. Eduardo looks at him, frowning, and he looks exhausted. Mark almost feels bad.

"Mark?" Eduardo asks.

"So how was she?" Mark asks. "Your friend. How did her presentation go? What was it on, again?" Mark, after bringing Eduardo's cat home, had searched around for technology conferences anywhere within a radius one day's drive, but there had been hundreds of matches and no way to know for sure which one Eduardo had gone to.

"How was—" Eduardo repeats, still frowning, and then his face clears. "Oh, Mark. No. Not like that."

"Not like what?" Mark says. He refuses to retreat when Eduardo steps forward, so Eduardo's catching his wrists and pulling his hands out of his pockets a second later.

"She really is just a friend," Eduardo says. "You of all people should know she — any woman — would not be my type. Besides, I would've told you if I had someone like that. We wouldn't be doing this."

Mark pulls his hands from Eduardo's grasp, stepping away and grabbing the food. "It doesn't matter," he says. "Are you hungry?"

"It's really sweet that you're jealous," Eduardo says, "but I promise she's just a friend."

"I believe you," Mark says sharply. He feels embarrassed. He hadn't even been jealous, not really, just frustrated because he didn't know who this "she" was Eduardo was driving hours and hours to see.

Eduardo snorts but picks over his food quietly. Mark isn't that hungry either — he ate earlier — and after a few minutes he takes Eduardo's container from his hands and sticks them both in the fridge.

"If we can get Cat's things together, I'll—" Eduardo starts.

"Stay here," Mark says.

"What?" Eduardo asks.

"Stay the night," Mark says. "It's midnight, you're half-asleep, and the cat's already been here three days, she'll survive another."

"No, I couldn't—" Eduardo says, but he breaks off into another yawn. "I don't know why I'm so tired."

"Stay," Mark says. "You can take your cat back in the morning."

***END PART TWO***

One night turns into two, because Eduardo sleeps until well past noon and Mark isn't going to wake him; he'd looked so tired. When he does wake up he pulls Mark down into bed, kissing him and thanking him for caring for the cat and for letting Eduardo share his bed, and he gives him a blowjob for all of it. Mark still thinks Eduardo's manners are a little over the top, but he's warming up to this method of thanks.

Of course, after the sex there's food, and they've both only been awake for a few hours even after that, so they watch a movie, but they can't agree on one so they have to watch two, one for each of them, and halfway through the second they end up having sex on Mark's couch, Mark in Eduardo's lap and grinding off against each other until they both come, scaring the cat into the bedroom.

Then they're both filthy. Eduardo convinces Mark to shower, and then they're both wet and clean and a little bit chilly, so there's nothing for it but to crawl back between Mark's sheets.

So one day turns into two, and Mark is just considering whether he can wrangle an invitation to stay at Eduardo's apartment the next day – Eduardo is up and simultaneously despairing of the state of Mark's kitchen, from the filth to the lack of proper cooking dishes, and pestering Mark about what his favorite foods are, because he decided as soon as they woke up that he wanted to know everything about Mark, starting with the most trivial details, such as what his favorite color is.

(Mark had answered blue, and Eduardo had asked why, and Mark had explained about the colorblindness. Eduardo had been fascinated, staring at Mark's eyes while Mark talked, and spent five minutes asking Mark to describe how he saw various colors, which was of course a pointless exercise but seemed to fascinate Eduardo nonetheless. When he had exhausted his curiosity he'd cupped his hands around Mark's face and kissed each of Mark's eyes, which was incredibly odd but also oddly sweet. Mark's face had felt hot, and that's when he'd distracted Eduardo by mentioning food.)

Just as Eduardo's agreed to give up and go out for breakfast, there's a knock on Mark's door. It's the characteristically loud and patterned rapping that signals Dustin's arrival, which he does right before using his key to let himself in regardless of any response he may or may not receive.

"Shit," Mark says.

"Who's that?" Eduardo asks, raising his eyebrows, and then Mark's front door slams into the wall behind it.

"Mark," Dustin hollers, obscenely loud – Mark's gotten three noise complaints in the two years he's been in this apartment, and all three were Dustin's fault – and then he stops, blinking as he actually notices Mark and Eduardo standing in the kitchen. "Oh," he says. "Hello."

"Hello," Eduardo says back, sounding confused.

"Get the fuck out, Dustin," Mark says.

"This would be Eduardo," Dustin says, shutting the door behind himself. "I have been looking forward to meeting you."

"That sounds ominous," Eduardo says. "But yes, I'm Eduardo. You are?"

"Dustin," Dustin says solemnly. "Mark's only true friend."

"Get out, Dustin," Mark repeats, but it's too late. Eduardo's mouth is already twitching up.

"It's nice to meet you," Eduardo says.

"You have no idea," Dustin returns, terribly cheerful. "What are you two up to?"

"Breakfast," Eduardo says. "Trying, at least. We were about to go out. Do you want to come with?"

"No," Mark says, but neither of them is listening at all. Mark doesn't like where this is going.

"I would love to," Dustin says.

---

They go to Denny's. Eduardo slides into the booth after Mark, trapping him against the wall, which Mark normally hates but which now, with Eduardo warm all along his side, he doesn't mind so much. Eduardo stretches his arm along the back of the booth, and normally that would annoy Mark, too, but it's early and they're at Denny's in the midst of screaming children, and he doesn't have the energy to do anything about it. Instead he just tips his head back, using Eduardo's arm as a pillow. Eduardo doesn't seem to notice as he smiles at the waitress who's come up to give them coffee. Dustin, on the other side of the booth, does notice, and he smirks at Mark. Mark narrows his eyes back and doesn't move his head.

"So, Eduardo," Dustin says. "Tell me about yourself."

"Well," Eduardo says, and Mark can see him stall.

"He already knows you do porn," Mark says.

"Mark told you, right," Eduardo says, and his smile doesn't reach his eyes.

"No, dude, I totally knew who you were first," Dustin says. "Not to be weird or shit. Just, I film for the studio."

"Oh," Eduardo says, and looks as if he's trying to decide whether this is weird or not.

Mark says, "He tries to get me to socialize with people I work with."

"Workplace relationships are important!" Dustin says.

"I don't," Eduardo says, at the same time.

Eduardo and Dustin stop and look at each other awkwardly.

"Well," Dustin says. "I bet you socialize with people outside work, though."

"I try," Eduardo says, smiling at him, and they're friends again. Mark rolls his eyes.

The waitress comes up and they order. Dustin gets way too much food, claiming he'll take half of it home for leftovers – which is a blatant lie, Mark has seen his food intake at restaurants – and Eduardo and Mark order almost the same thing, which is unnerving, and makes Dustin do his stupid eyebrow-wiggle at Mark again.

"Well, since I want to demand all the details of your life, I suppose it's only fair to share," Dustin says. "Do you want to hear how Mark and I met?"

Mark jolts up. "Dustin, go fuck yourself."

Eduardo jumps and looks over, startled, and then looks back at Dustin's horrible, grinning face and says, with emphasis, "Yes."

"Dustin, I will ruin your life," Mark says.

Dustin ignores him. "So I'd been working at the studio for a little under two months when I'm walking past one of the director's offices."

"Dustin," Mark hisses.

Eduardo reaches over and covers Mark's mouth. Mark promptly bites him. Eduardo says, "Keep going, Dustin," and yanks his hand away from Mark's teeth, smacking him over the back of the head instead.

"Ow," Mark says, a little in shock.

"Don't interrupt other people's conversations," Eduardo says mildly. "Dustin?"

Dustin looks as if he's discovered heaven. Mark is having difficulty coping with the embarrassment his life has become, and it's only about to get worse.

"Mark is in there with one of the big shot directors of the time, you know, one of the guys who actually kept his hands to himself and so was allowed to film more than two movies?" Dustin waits for Eduardo to nod. "And he's getting reamed."

Mark groans.

Eduardo's mouth twitches. "You mean verbally, right?"

"Yeah," Dustin says, waving a hand. "Anyway, so I stopped to eavesdrop. Turns out Mark had an ugly face."

"Okay," Eduardo says, sounding hesitant. He glances over at Mark skeptically.

"Because, okay, there are different levels of seriousness, generally ranging from "watching your baby nephew" to "dismantling a bomb," and Mark was falling on the wrong side of that scale."

"What?" Eduardo says. Dustin has succeeded in completely losing him, and Mark smirks while he hides his face behind his coffee cup.

Dustin rolls his eyes and leans forward. "When Mark was giving people blow jobs, he looked, according to the director, like he thought their dicks were going to explode in his face."

Eduardo starts to laugh. "Well, technically—"

"Yeah, dude, that's what I said!" Dustin says, "I'd cringe away from facials, too."

Eduardo keeps snickering. "And he was getting yelled at for it?"

"Yeah," Dustin says. "They take these things seriously."

"Well, they have to," Eduardo says, with a too-straight face. Mark sincerely hopes he's joking.

"So anyway," Dustin says. "Because I am a wonderful person, I walked into the room and said I would give him lessons on how to give head."

Eduardo, taking a drink of lukewarm coffee, chokes. Dustin obviously chose his moment deliberately and looks immensely pleased with himself. "You—" Eduardo says, coughing a couple of times. "What? He practiced giving you blow jobs?"

Mark is pleased to see Dustin's face contort. Payback.

"Oh, God, no," Dustin says. "No, no, no. But I'm a camera person, I had at least minimal experience with watching for stupid expressions and making sure what ends up on film isn't awful."

Eduardo blinks, taken aback. "Then what?"

"We used bananas," Dustin says, and sits back, triumphantly finished.

Eduardo is frozen, staring at Dustin. "For—" he says. "For practicing?"

"Absolutely," Dustin says cheerfully. "I still have some of the film from the practice session."

Eduardo starts laughing, slow and building. "Did you really?" he asks, turning to Mark.

Mark realizes he should've escaped before it got this far. It's not too late, though, and he shoves Eduardo out of the booth so he can go to the bathroom. He thinks he can hear Eduardo's snickering and Dustin's excited voice until the door shuts behind him.

He stands over the sinks and washes his hands, avoiding the mirror. Even without deliberately looking he can see the red tint on his ears. Fucking Dustin. Mark doesn't know why they're friends.

The bathroom door opens and Mark isn't surprised at all to see Eduardo. "Mark," Eduardo says. He looks apologetic, but he's also still snorting a little. Mark isn't sure why he likes him, either.

"Dustin's an ass," Mark says.

"Come on," Eduardo says, stepping closer. "That's a great story."

"Yes," Mark says, because he can see the humor in it. But— "If it's not about you."

"I don't think any less of you," Eduardo says. "If that helps."

Mark gives him a look. "It doesn't."

"It's pretty embarrassing for Dustin, too," Eduardo says. "He did after all spend the time filming and critiquing you." Eduardo snickers again on the first syllable of critiquing.

Mark huffs and turns around to wash his hands again.

Eduardo's heat presses against his back. "Are you going to come back to the table now?"

"Yes," Mark says. He's not going to give Dustin the satisfaction by doing otherwise.

"Hey," Eduardo says. He noses at Mark's ear and Mark meets his eyes in the mirror. "I may have never practiced fellatio on a banana, but I've cried during filming."

Mark turns around. Eduardo's arms bracket him, and Eduardo's smiling down at him, eyes bright. Mark narrows his eyes at the innocent expression. "You're lying," he says.

Eduardo laughs. "Yes. But would it make you feel better if it were true?"

"No," Mark says. "Your humiliation wouldn't alleviate mine."

Eduardo has to step back quickly as the door opens again, admitting a father and his kid. "We've left Dustin alone with all our food," Eduardo says.

"Yes, fine," Mark says. "Let's go let him mock me some more."

"Alright," Eduardo says. Mark is letting himself be pulled back to their table by his elbow. "Do you have any interesting stories that don't humiliate Mark?"

"Well," Dustin says, and stops to consider. The pause is entirely contrived, Mark knows, and he kicks Dustin under the table. Dustin yelps and kicks back and says, "You know that fake bathroom set?"

"Yeah." Eduardo nods. Mark settles more comfortably into the booth and starts eating. He's heard this one before; Dustin frequently complains about it, because it's right outside his editing studio and he always gets to hear the commotion about it.

"You have no idea how many guys don't realize that's not a real bathroom and that there's no plumbing," Dustin says.

With that, they're off the subject of Mark, finally. Mark feels safe enough to begin to eat, and partway through Eduardo's arm comes back up, settling warm over Mark's shoulders. Mark tenses a little but doesn't nudge it off, and Dustin, instead of teasing, just gives him a stupid little smile and keeps talking to Eduardo.

Dustin has to go straight to work after breakfast. He's already fifteen minutes late, in fact, something he doesn't notice until they leave because he doesn't own a watch and he never checks his phone. He leaves them with a lamenting, "Fuck me!" and vague plans to hang out with Mark and Eduardo sometime in the next week. He swears he needs to school Eduardo in the ways of online video game tournaments, and Mark would like to give Dustin a chance to embarrass himself for a change, so he agreed to make Eduardo come see Dustin geek out.

"He's not who I would've guessed you'd be friends with," Eduardo says as they walk slowly back to Mark's car.

Mark frowns. "What do you mean?"

"I would've predicted your friends would be more serious," Eduardo says. "More like you."

Mark feels like frowning harder and he's not sure why. "What about you," he says, "what are your friends like?"

"Well, I don't have any quite like Dustin," Eduardo says. "Mostly my friends are the other people in my apartment. I babysit for a lot of the young couples, and we do holidays together. None of them know I'm in porn, though, so I'm not as close to most of them."

Mark nods and unlocks his car.

"I really should take Cat home today," Eduardo says.

"You're not leaving," Mark says, rolling his eyes.

"Not until you kick me out or I actually have to, no," Eduardo admits.

Because Eduardo hasn't been let into enough of Mark's life for one day, on their way into Mark's apartment his next door neighbor comes out. "Mark!" she says happily.

Mark bites back a sigh. The timing says she was staring out her peephole at the hallway again. At her feet, her little dog pants quietly up at them. "Hello, May."

"Who is your friend?" she asks. "Have you gotten yourself a boyfriend?"

Mark grits his teeth. Behind him, Eduardo smothers a laugh and steps forward, offering a hand and introducing himself.

"He's cute," May tells Mark.

Mark raises his eyebrows. "Glad to have your approval."

"Don't get sarcastic with me," May says, sniffing. Cleary, her dog, yips excitedly and follows her as she retreats back into her apartment. "I made you another pie, don't bite the hand that feeds you."

"That looks lovely," Eduardo says diplomatically as May shoves the pie dish at Mark.

"Thank you," Mark says by rote.

"I played with the recipe again, you'll have to tell me if the jalapeños make the whole thing too spicy or if the apples are sweet enough," she says. "And I'm going out tomorrow to visit my sister again, you know how she is, I'm hoping to convince her to move out here for once and for all, would you mind checking on Cleary for me while I'm gone?"

"Sure," Mark says, and she smiles at he and Eduardo again and shoos them into Mark's apartment.

"Jalapeño and apple," Eduardo says.

"She gives me pies right before she asks me for favors," Mark says darkly. He fucking hates Cleary. The stupid dog just follows him obediently around, waiting for attention and praise, and whines when it has to be further than three feet from Mark. Mark can't even go to the bathroom by himself when he's taking care of the stupid dog.

"She seemed to like you," Eduardo says. "Pie, after all. That's better than mere brownies."

"You're a smug asshole," Mark tells him. Eduardo's face looks very unattractive with that smirk.

Eduardo laughs and retreats to the living room while Mark puts the stupid pie in the fridge. He can hear Eduardo turn on the news, and then the snarling, menacing yowl of the cat.

"Don't be a bitch," Mark says, walking into the living room. He does not have the patience for any of this right now. "Shut the fuck up or I'm throwing you in a dumpster."

Eduardo and the cat stare at him. "You are talking to the cat, right?" Eduardo says.

Mark doesn't bother replying. He walks over to them. The cat is on the back of the couch again, and Eduardo is kneeling in front of it, clearly trying to sit. If Mark were here alone he'd just sit in the armchair again, but he and Eduardo won't both fit there. The cat is going to have to give it up.

"Because I didn't think you were the type to talk to animals," Eduardo continues. "But I'm also pretty sure you don't want to throw me in a dumpster."

"You'd be surprised," Mark mutters. "Cat, get the fuck off the couch, or I will murder you." He leans in, glaring at the cat, and she stares back, pupils going wide. Mark regrets his tactic for a moment, wondering how badly his face is going to get lacerated, and then the cat flees so fast her fluffy tail whips his face. Mark leans back and blinks.

"She definitely likes you," Eduardo says with authority.

Mark gets his laptop and tries to ignore Eduardo for a few hours. Eduardo isn't having any of it. He wanders off and comes back with pie, which smells incredibly good, and disturbs Mark with indecent moaning noises as he eats.

"Are you quiet when you do anything?" Mark asks him.

Eduardo says, "This is really good."

"I know," Mark says, annoyed. If it were bad, May wouldn't be able to manipulate him so easily.

"No, try it," Eduardo insists, and holds out a forkful.

Mark says, "I've had it before," ignoring the way Eduardo is trying to feed him.

"It's amazing," Eduardo repeats.

Mark rolls his eyes.

Eduardo finishes eating the pie and sets the plate and fork on the table, and when he leans forward and kisses Mark his mouth tastes a little cool and stings with the aftermath of jalapeños. Mark thinks the pie maybe was worth the noises Eduardo made over it.

"So what are you doing?" Eduardo asks, sitting back triumphantly.

Mark realizes he's licking his mouth, over and over, tasting the cinnamon and jalapeños, and he scowls, making himself stop. "What?" he says.

"You spend a lot of time on your computer," Eduardo says. "What are you doing? It's not stupid pictures like most people waste their time with."

Mark, who hasn't seen Eduardo on a computer since he's been here or noticed him show any interest about getting on one, is horrified to realize Eduardo may think the sum of the internet is stupid pictures. "I'm coding," he says, and watching Eduardo carefully.

"You write programs?" Eduardo repeats back, looking confused.

Mark, gratified Eduardo at least knows what coding means, leans over the edge of the couch, dragging his laptop back into his lap and waking it up. Eduardo sits closer, settling himself along Mark's back.

"That's why you have two computers?" he asks, glancing at the desktop over by the window.

"That I use, yes," Mark says absently. He loads up one of his in-progress files. "Here."

"That," Eduardo says, peering down over his shoulder, "means nothing to me."

Mark snorts.

"Do you have anything completed you can show me?" Eduardo asks.

Mark rolls his eyes and brings up Synapse, although it's outdated and not representative of his proclivities nowadays.

Eduardo reaches around him, clicking around the program. "This is amazing," he says.

Mark shrugs. It doesn't work very well with Eduardo draped over him. "I did it a long time ago," he says.

"How long?" Eduardo hums, closing out of the program. He scrolls through Mark's files, being nosy.

"High school," Mark says. "More than six years ago."

"Wow," Eduardo says, "you started young."

Mark snorts. "A lot younger than high school."

"So this is old," Eduardo says. "What do you do now?"

Mark hesitates.

Eduardo cranes around to look at him. "Well?" he prompts. "You can tell me about some of it even if it's not done."

"Not really," Mark says.

"Why not?" Eduardo asks curiously.

"It's illegal," Mark says.

Eduardo stares at him.

Mark raises his eyebrows. "I can tell you anyway, if you want."

"No," Eduardo says, and detaches himself from Mark's back. He hunches over, groaning into his hands. "It figures."

"What?" Mark says.

"I can never date anyone who isn't a criminal," Eduardo says. "I thought you would be the exception."

"I'm not a criminal," Mark protests.

"You're doing illegal things with your computer," Eduardo says. "You're probably hacking the Pentagon."

"I'm not hacking the Pentagon," Mark says, rolling his eyes, and doesn't say been there, done that. "Besides, I've never been caught."

"Ugh," Eduardo says, but at least he's laughing, so it's not a complete loss.

"How many criminals have you gone out with?" Mark asks because he can't help himself.

"Okay, they weren't all criminals," Eduardo admits. "It just feels like it sometimes."

"Were any of them in prison?" Mark asks.

"Uh," Eduardo says, "No." But he doesn't sound certain. "I mean, some of them had been in jail, and some of them later went to jail, but I never dated anyone who was actually in jail."

"Just how many of these guys were there?" Mark asks suspiciously.

Eduardo's face, what little Mark can see of it, goes pink. "Three, I think," he says.

Mark blinks. From the way Eduardo had been talking, he'd started expecting double digits. "Out of how many?"

Eduardo sighs hugely. "Including you? Five."

"In how many years?" Mark asks, shocked. That's a hell of a lot less than he would've guessed. Even without talking to the other actors, he's seen the sheer volume of significant others that go through people's lives.

Eduardo glares. "I told you I don't date guys who do porn," he says.

"Yeah," Mark says. He doesn't see the connection. There are plenty of other—

"Neither do other people," Eduardo says. "At least none I've met."

"Huh," Mark says. "Except criminals."

"Clearly," Eduardo says. "And fuck you, how many boyfriends have you had?"

"Including you?" Mark mimics, mocking. "One."

Eduardo glares. "And you're judging me? You've been doing porn almost as long as I have. At least I've dated a little."

"I don't date," Mark says.

"You haven't had a boyfriend in four years," Eduardo mutters.

"No," Mark says, frowning. "I mean ever."

Eduardo stops glaring. In fact, Eduardo stops everything, possibly even breathing. "I'm your first boyfriend?" he says.

Mark shrugs. "I don't date," he repeats.

"But…" Eduardo says, still looking lost.

Sighing, Mark explains, "I don't like people. People don't like me."

"People like you," Eduardo protests. "I like you. Dustin likes you, your neighbor obviously—"

"Yes," Mark interrupts, flushing, before Eduardo can start in on the pie again. "I just meant—you know. And I don't like them, either," he stresses, because Eduardo's looking sad.

"You like me," Eduardo says.

"Yes," Mark admits grudgingly. "I like you."

Eduardo smiles brightly and wraps an arm around Mark again, dragging him closer. "First boyfriend, huh," he says. "Well, at least that explains why you're so bad at this."

He's clearly teasing. Mark kicks him anyway and makes Eduardo change the channel when it switches from news to a daytime soap opera.

Eduardo is going to nap. He seems to do that a lot, probably because he actually gets up in the morning, which is something Mark doesn't understand. He lets Mark sleep, though, so Mark has left it alone. Mark should get away from him before he naps now, though, because he doesn't want to get drool on him or, worse, end up trapped and unable to move without disturbing Eduardo. He'll need to plug his laptop in sometime soon at the very least, and with Eduardo draped over him, he can't.

"Why are you doing porn?" Eduardo asks, voice sleepy. "You're way too intelligent to be doing porn."

"Intelligent people can do porn," Mark says.

"Yes," Eduardo says, "but usually not ones who despise other people. You have dozens of options that wouldn't involve close contact with others."

Mark puts his laptop away, curling closer to Eduardo. Eduardo lifts an arm accommodatingly, wrapping it over his shoulder. "I have issues with authority," Mark says.

Eduardo frowns. "That's it?"

"I got kicked out of college," Mark says. "There are some things universities don't want you doing with their servers."

"Oh," Eduardo says. "I'm sorry."

Mark yawns and steals the remote. "My choices."

"Would you ever go back?" Eduardo asks, but he's falling asleep too fast to hear an answer. Mark doesn't bother replying.

---

Eduardo does have to go home the next day, because his neighbors have started calling, worried he's missing or dead. When he answers his phone, they invite him to a birthday party, and he offers to let Mark come, but Mark is so horrified by the idea he cannot verbally respond; he just shakes his head over and over. He takes Cat with him, leaving only the murmuring of the news after the door latches shut behind him.

Through the door Mark can hear May open her door and say goodbye to him, trying to be nosy. Eduardo fends off her questions, aided by the terrible noises Cat is making from her carrier. Mark starts to reassess her worth, especially once she manages to frighten Cleary. Cleary's pained whining forces May back into her apartment, and Eduardo escapes unscathed.

Mark shuts off the TV and then, after retrieving his laptop and debating a moment, turns it back on. The quiet sounded strangely discontented. In his bedroom, he eyes the neatly made bed. Eduardo had insisted on making it before he left. Something under the edge of the bed frame, near the wall, catches his eye, and when he picks it up it's one of Eduardo's t-shirts, the one he'd been wearing the first night he stayed over. Mark looks at it a moment longer and then shrugs, deciding finders-keepers rules, and drops it on his pillows.

His afternoon is uneventful. He ignores a whole chain of messages from Dustin, which begin with a demand Mark promise to show up with Eduardo that Wednesday, progress to death threats, and culminate in a pissy message that informs Mark that Dustin just contacted Eduardo directly. Since he had the ability to do this from the beginning, Mark has no sympathy for the frustration he went through; there was a reason he ignored the messages in the first place.

Late that night, as he's falling asleep, his phone goes off. He fumbles it off his nightstand, holding it up and blinking in the glare from the screen.

I'm going to risk sounding codependent and ask if I can come back over

Mark feels his lips twitch. yes

Eduardo shows up twenty minutes later, sans Cat for once, looking sheepish. Mark lets him in and says, "Really?"

"Well, I left a shirt here," Eduardo says, belying the way his face flushes. He's wearing pajama pants and an undershirt. Looking at him, Mark wants to laugh.

"I'm going to sleep," Mark says, shaking his head, and lets Eduardo follow him into his room. Eduardo picks the shirt up off of Mark's pillow and shakes it out, looking it over before he smiles at Mark, an odd, warm expression. Mark frowns back – he just didn't bother moving it off the bed.

Eduardo drops the shirt on the floor. Since he immediately replaces the empty space on the pillow with his head, Mark doesn't care.

"I actually had a reason for coming over," Eduardo says quietly, nudging his toes against Mark's ankles.

"Yeah?" Mark says, smothering a yawn. "I thought your cat had scared you out of your apartment."

"Just because she likes you better doesn't mean she completely detests me," Eduardo says.

"Of course she completely detests you," Mark says. He shivers when Eduardo's hand slides up under his shirt, fingers a little too cold on his ribs. "She doesn't like me at all, and you're right that she likes you even less."

"Okay, I didn't come over to talk about my cat," Eduardo says, a little petulant.

Mark smiles and tilts his chin up, catching Eduardo's mouth in a soft sideways slide.

"I'm filming tomorrow," Eduardo says, half-cringing as he pulls a breath's space away.

Mark blinks. "Okay."

"Okay?" Eduardo says.

Mark says, "I'm filming the day after. I thought we weren't going to talk about this."

"Do you—would you rather we didn't?" Eduardo asks.

Mark frowns. "I thought you'd want to ignore it."

"Kind of hard," Eduardo says drily. "I just—you got jealous over a girl I see once every couple of years. That doesn't bode well."

"I'm not going to get jealous of you doing your job," Mark says sharply.

"Then I will," Eduardo says. "One of us."

"It'll be fine," Mark says. Eduardo opens his mouth and Mark shakes his head. "No, shut up. It's fine."

"Telling me to shut up doesn't make me stop worrying," Eduardo says. "You do know that?"

Mark scoffs. "Fine. Then talk about it. I don't care."

Eduardo rolls his eyes. "How are you so sure?"

The truth would be that he's good at compartmentalization. Eduardo clearly isn't, though, so Mark tries to come up with an answer that can help Eduardo. He settles for, "I'm not going to worry about something that might be a problem eventually. Worrying makes it more likely to be a problem. Don't be proactive about this."

"Or worrying allows you to catch things before they become a problem," Eduardo says, raising his eyebrows.

"We tried that," Mark says. "That strategy made me stalk you."

Eduardo snorts, laughing a little.

"Look, you can come over afterwards," Mark says. "Not because—just come over. You can cook dinner."

"Yeah, alright," Eduardo says slowly. He sighs out loudly into the silence. "This is weird."

"It'll be fine," Mark repeats yet again.

"No, I mean—" Eduardo waves a hand. "We're going to know when we've had sex with other people. We'll smell and maybe taste like other people. It's just…odd."

Mark reaches over and pats Eduardo's stomach. "It'll be fine."

Eduardo smacks his wrist lightly. "Don't be condescending," he says mildly. "I'm serious. I mean, as of right now, we know we have slept with other people before. There's proof. We could look each other up."

Mark nods.

"Would it be awkward if I looked up your old movies?" Eduardo asks, pillowing his head on one of his hands and rolling to look at Mark.

Mark shakes his head. "I don't care."

"Though it might not be the best idea," Eduardo says, smiling a little. "I'm pretty sure I won't like watching you with other people, even if it was in the past."

Mark says, "It's just porn."

"I know," Eduardo says. He's quiet for a while again. "It's hard to believe I hadn't ever seen you before. I'm curious about you."

"I'd seen you," Mark says, yawning.

Eduardo goes still. "You had?" he asks. His voice is odd.

Mark nods. "You were one of my favorites."

"Your—Mark!" Eduardo says, sitting up and pulling away.

"What?" Mark asks, rolling onto his back reluctantly and blinking at Eduardo.

"You didn't think you should mention this before?"

"Why would I," Mark says. "It never came up."

"Yeah," Eduardo mutters. He rubs a hand over his face, and Mark actually starts to worry, but after another few seconds he sighs out heavily and lies back down.

"Okay?" Mark asks cautiously.

Eduardo sighs again. "I guess it would be stupid to ask you whether you only started dating me because you liked my porn," he says. "I mean, I know better."

"Yeah," Mark says.

"Tell me anyway," Eduardo says, rolling over onto his side but carefully not touching Mark. "Tell me we didn't start dating because you liked my porn."

"Your dick is not that impressive," Mark tells him. "Besides, I'd already fucked you by the time I convinced you to go out with me. Watching your porn wouldn't inspire any desire that couldn't be sated by that unless I was mentally imbalanced, which I'm not."

"Tell me," Eduardo repeats.

Mark rolls his eyes. "I started dating you because I thought you were fucking weird," he says, "not because I thought you were pretty when you came."

Eduardo breathes out, and he finally touches Mark again, laying a hand on his side. Mark is careful not to dislodge it. "Okay," he says. "Thanks."

Mark rolls his eyes again but tucks his head closer to Eduardo's throat. Eduardo, when Mark has just gotten himself positioned comfortably, snickers.

"What?" Mark asks, disgruntled.

"Did you really just tell me I'm pretty when I come?"

---

Eduardo comes home the next night a little before eight. Mark cannot smell anyone else on him but he can certainly see them. "You have a hickey," he says flatly.

Eduardo claps a hand over his neck self-consciously. "I know," he says and winces. "Sorry."

"Come here," Mark says.

Eduardo walks over, looking wary. Mark kneels up on the couch. He's not going to give Eduardo the satisfaction of admitting that there's something to the jealousy concerns, but he's also not letting that hickey stand.

"What?" Eduardo asks cautiously. "Look, it'll fade—"

Mark grabs Eduardo's shoulders and seals his mouth over the mark, sucking hard. Eduardo yelps, hand clawing at Mark's arm, and Mark gets pried off. "Ouch!" Eduardo says.

Mark rolls his eyes and darts back in. He sets his teeth into the skin and sucks hard a few more times, and Eduardo doesn't pull him off again, but he does make constant small noises and complain the whole time. When Mark pulls off, the bruise is purple in the shape of Mark's mouth and teeth, and he licks affectionately over it once.

"Hello," he says, leaning back to look at Eduardo. "How was it?"

Eduardo stares at him. "You're a freak," he says.

"No," Mark says. "Tell me about it."

"What?" Eduardo asks, brow furrowed, and he's cute when he's confused but Mark wishes he were a little quicker on the uptake sometimes.

Mark climbs off the couch, standing up and pressing against Eduardo. "Tell me about it," he says, slow and deliberate.

"Uh," Eduardo says. Mark kisses him.

Eduardo won't start talking until Mark has him laid out on the bed and he's looking him over for other hickeys that might've been left behind by the inconsiderate costar. He doesn't seem to believe Mark is serious, but Mark is: if the heat burning in his stomach won't go away, and it won't, then Mark is at least going to use it for something.

In fact, Eduardo doesn't start talking until Mark licks his fingers and slides two of them inside him. His hole is red and wet from being used, and he twitches away, says, "Christ, Mark, I'm—"

Then he cuts off but Mark pulls his fingers out and says sympathetically, "Sore?"

"Yes," Eduardo huffs, glaring a little.

"That's okay," Mark says. "I was going to have you fuck me anyway."

"You were?" Eduardo says sarcastically. "Even though I've come three times in the last eight hours and I probably won't be able to get it up again?"

Except he is hard again, or getting there at least. "Why are you sore?" Mark asks, holding Eduardo's cock loosely as it hardens while he sucks another hickey into his hip. There isn't anyone else's mark there, but the skin is soft and unblemished and Mark avails himself of it. "Did you come all three times from being fucked?"

"Only twice," Eduardo says. He grabs Mark's wrist. "Are you serious?"

"Yes," Mark says, steely. He stares at Eduardo until Eduardo, still looking uncertain, nods.

Mark leans over and grabs the lube and a condom, just to have them handy, and then licks over the head of Eduardo's cock and down the shaft, tracing his tongue between his fingers.

Eduardo yelps, and his hips twist a little violently. Mark looks up and says, "Oversensitive?" because he's heard that noise before. That was one of the first noises he would've recognized from Eduardo.

"I have come three times today already," Eduardo says.

"Well, you don't have to come again," Mark says drily. "Just so long as you stay hard long enough for me to get off."

"Yes, I wouldn't want to disappoint," Eduardo says, and he looks torn between exasperation and genuine amusement.

"The scenario was a normal scene in a nightclub," Mark says, repeating what little Eduardo told him about the shoot. "You meet a guy and have sex in the bathroom up against a wall."

"Fine," Eduardo says, capitulating entirely. "I met him in a nightclub, yeah, and I was supposedly already drunk, so he pushed me up against the wall and kissed me."

Mark hums. He knows the guy would've been bigger than Eduardo, or at least broader. Would he have been a lot older? He would've been forceful. Eduardo would've looked vulnerable with him.

"He actually pushed really hard," Eduardo says, musing. "The back of my head hurts. I might have a bump."

"Wardo," Mark snaps.

Eduardo snorts. "Right, no interrupting your fantasy, got it."

Mark breathes out hotly over the head of Eduardo's dick. Eduardo's voice is shakier when he resumes.

"Then we ended up in the bathroom, and it's not even close to a real bathroom. There's actual room to move, to begin with, so he picked me up and put me on one of the sinks."

Definitely bigger, yes.

"He pretended to bite me for a while. I had to pretend to moan, it was boring, it took three takes," Eduardo continues, and Mark whines, "Wardo."

Eduardo laughs a little and reaches down, pulling Mark's hand off his cock and nudging him up. In between biting, teasing kisses he says, "I had to service him first, of course. Get on my knees. I'm not as good at looking needy for cock in my mouth as you are, it's probably a deficit I should work on."

Mark bites him back in retribution for the attitude and says, "But he still fucked your face, so skill didn't really matter."

"He didn't come that way," Eduardo says. "Skill did matter, I wasn't good enough." Like some sort of ironic punctuation, he reaches down and gropes Mark, fingering his cock and then cupping his balls, rolling them and pressing them up towards Mark's body. Mark groans unintentionally and holds still, and Eduardo's fingers slide back, dry as they press against Mark.

"Did he fuck you then?" Mark asks and pushes his hips back against Eduardo's fingers.

"No," Eduardo says. He takes his fingers away, reaching for the lube. "He blew me, to show me how to do it right."

Mark rolls onto his side next to Eduardo, hooking a leg over his hip to spread himself open for Eduardo's access. Eduardo rolls over to face him, and his breath is hot and smells like mint toothpaste as he reaches back down. "Of course," Mark says. "Have to educate you."

"Exactly," Eduardo says, looking unfocused as he pushes his thumb into Mark.

Mark clenches around it, displeased. Eduardo just curls his thumb inside, hooking his hand against Mark's ass, and Mark can't do anything with this. When he squirms, Eduardo has the indecency to laugh at him. His eyes are hot, though, and Mark hooks his leg further over and squirms closer, until their cocks just barely brush.

Eduardo groans. "So I came the first time there, with the fucking sink digging into my back while he sucked me off."

"Bet you didn't get to fuck his face," Mark mutters.

Eduardo laughs and pulls his thumb out of Mark, tracing it around the rim. "No," he says. "Just came, prematurely, like a good little inexperienced whore."

Mark almost laughs too, responding inadvertently to Eduardo's huffs of amusement as he mouths over Mark's neck. "Did you get punished for it?" he asks.

"No, just a lot of disappointed looks," Eduardo says. "And then he decided to fuck me."

Mark moans as Eduardo pushes two fingers into him, opening him up for real.

"He had to finger me first," Eduardo says, voice soft. "I wasn't so good at just taking it, after all."

"Yeah," Mark agrees mindlessly, squirming to try to get Eduardo to put his fingers in the right spot.

Eduardo cooperates, sliding them all the way in and curling, and the pleasure builds wickedly in Mark's stomach. "I could've come the second time from that, he thought, except he didn't want to give me the satisfaction since I'd already been so selfish."

Mark whines as Eduardo pulls his fingers out, but he rolls them both over, straddling Eduardo's hips. Eduardo's completely hard, more than ready, and Mark yanks the condom out and rolls it out, following the downward stroke of his hand with his body as he takes Eduardo in.

"Oh, Christ," Eduardo says, gasping. He twists, and it doesn't look like it's all pleasure. Mark clenches down vindictively. His oversensitivity is not Mark's problem.

"And then?" he prompts, rocking his hips a little.

"And then we fucked for real," Eduardo says, panting out and clawing at Mark's thighs. Mark takes pity and relaxes around him, raising up and letting Eduardo thrust into him a little. He's gentle about it, probably out of courtesy for himself. Mark grinds down and takes over again.

Eduardo groans underneath him, unprotesting, even when Mark is a little too rough. Mark kisses him in apology, because Eduardo likes kissing, and Eduardo jerks Mark off as quickly as he can. It doesn't take long at all, images burning behind Mark's eyes of Eduardo in an anonymous bathroom with some asshole who has no idea who they're touching. It doesn't matter that it's porn, that it's Eduardo's job; Mark is so close to coming, jealous heat burning away as he takes all of Eduardo's desperate, semi-wounded noises into his mouth, as Eduardo starts thrusting underneath him and fucking up because he is going to come again, because this with Mark does more for him than any bullshit fantasy scenario could.

Mark comes in a satisfying rush, and he goes still while he does, squeezing his knees around Eduardo's hips and shuddering. When he's finished and his muscles are unlocking again, he can feel himself spasming around Eduardo's cock.

"Do you want—?" he asks, rocking down experimentally.

"Fuck," Eduardo gasps out desperately, and Mark stays on him, riding out the next minute or two of thrusts despite his own oversensitive ache, until Eduardo groans and squeezes hard at his hips and comes.

Mark collapses next to him, leaving Eduardo to peel the condom off.

"Four times in one day," Mark says. "Not bad."

"Ow," Eduardo says pitifully, and he flinches but doesn't pull away when Mark reaches down and cups his cock, angry red and slowly softening.

"I promise I'm done with you for today," Mark promises, grinning a little.

"Noble of you," Eduardo says, voice tight, so Mark stops brushing his fingers over Eduardo's cock and pulls Eduardo closer to him instead.

"That was only twice," Mark says.

"What?" Eduardo says, forcing the word out mid-yawn. Mark stares into the back of his enormous mouth, a terribly unattractive vantage point, and wants to kiss him anyway. Eduardo's eyes, when he's blinked them back open, are sleepy too.

"That was only two orgasms," Mark says. "When did you come the third time?"

"Oh," Eduardo says. He smiles. "We had to film the fucking scene twice. My costar couldn't get around to coming the first time."

Mark snickers and Eduardo cups the side of his face, kissing him softly. "I'd have preferred you," he says.

"I know," Mark says, because he does. It goes without saying. "But this works."

"I don't want to be told," Eduardo says. He kisses Mark again. "After you work tomorrow. This works, yeah, and admittedly, your possessiveness is cute and if it works as a coping mechanism, that's fine. But I don't want to hear about your shoot. I don't think I could take it like you can."

"Okay," Mark says. He presses his thumb into the bruise on Eduardo's neck. "It'll be fine."

"Yeah," Eduardo says. He sounds a little as if he actually believes it now.

---

The scene Mark is doing is going to be part of the same movie Eduardo filmed for. Accordingly, it's got the same sort of exploitation theme – Mark gets "cornered" in a back alley and made to blow three guys and one of them stays behind after the other two leave to fuck him. Mark's jaw is sore by the end, and he feels like he's going to need to brush his teeth three times before he can be sure Eduardo won't taste them on him, but it only takes one try to get the fucking scene and Mark gets to leave after a couple of hours.

He's promised to meet Eduardo at his apartment after, because that only seemed fair, and he knocks a little hesitantly, preoccupied with the neighbor across the hall who comes out and nods at Mark on his way down the stairs.

"Hey," Eduardo says, opening the door almost immediately. His eyes search Mark's face.

"I think your neighbor recognizes me," Mark says.

Eduardo smiles and steps aside to let Mark in. "You have been around a lot recently. And the kids around here talk."

Mark says, "I'm pretty sure most of my neighbors don't recognize me."

"If you actually tried to meet them they might," Eduardo says. He shuts the door and leans in for a kiss.

Mark keeps it short and close-mouthed. When he pulls back, Eduardo is frowning at him. "I have to use your bathroom," Mark tells him.

In the bathroom he opens all the cabinets and drawers until he finds the extra toothbrush he knew Eduardo would have. He brushes, using Eduardo's disgusting cinnamon toothpaste, then washes his hands and drinks some water and drops his newly-claimed toothbrush in the holder next to Eduardo's.

When he comes out, he's relieved that Eduardo isn't standing around waiting; he's in the kitchen, banging around noisily while the TV airs an 80's movie.

"What are you making?" Mark asks. He stands next to Eduardo and tilts his head up so Eduardo can kiss him if he wants.

"It's a surprise," Eduardo says, smiling. He does lean down to kiss Mark briefly. If he tastes the toothpaste he doesn't mention it. "I'm hoping you'll like it."

Mark shrugs. "You owe me food," he says. "I don't care what it is."

Eduardo raises his eyebrows. "I owe you?"

Leaving the kitchen, Mark says, "I'm changing the channel."

"No, don't," Eduardo calls. Mark looks back. His face is obscured by a cloud of steam from some pot. "I like this movie."

Mark grimaces. Dustin likes movies like this, too. He and Eduardo are going to get along too well. "Fine," he grumbles, slumping onto the couch.

Eduardo brings him a plate of tortellini and squash. Mark eats it, and halfway through catches Eduardo watching him.

"What?" he says.

"I wasn't sure if you'd like squash," Eduardo says.

"I'll eat anything," Mark says. Then, "Why'd you make it if you thought I might not like it?"

"It was about to go bad," Eduardo says sheepishly.

Mark snorts and eats another piece of tortellini.

The movie ends and another one takes its place. Their plates sit empty on the coffee table. Mark stays stiffly at one end of the couch, unsure of what to do with an Eduardo who appears to be avoiding him as much as possible.

"Hey," Eduardo says after a couple more minutes. His fingers just barely touch Mark's knee. He sounds hesitant, and Mark watches him narrow-eyed. "Are you okay?"

"Yes," Mark says.

"Okay," Eduardo says, sighing out slowly and staring back at the television. Mark feels his jaw clench.

About halfway through the movie, as it goes to yet another commercial, Eduardo gets up to take their plates to the kitchen. As he goes, Mark hears him mutter something under his breath. The dishes clatter in the sink, and then Eduardo comes right back out and says accusingly, "Fine, you said."

"Yes," Mark says, defensive. It's not as if he's the one acting weird.

Eduardo walks back over to the couch and stands in front of Mark, looking unhappily down at him. "You won't even let me kiss you."

Mark rolls his eyes, relieved. He doesn't want to explain about the blowjobs, and Eduardo did say he didn't want to hear about it. Mark stands up, forcing Eduardo to take half a step back to make room – a risky move with the coffee table right behind him, but he doesn't run into it. Mark kisses him, really really kisses, deep and slow and holding tight to Eduardo's neck so he can't move away.

When Eduardo finally tries to pull away, breathing hard, he almost stumbles back over the coffee table and tips forward onto the couch instead, knocking Mark over with him. Mark huffs and kicks him off, back to his side of the couch, and says, "I wasn't stopping you from kissing me."

"Yeah, okay," Eduardo says, grinning. He reaches for Mark again.

Still, right before the movie ends, Eduardo pushes Mark off his lap a little and says, "I actually do want to ask."

"No, you don't," Mark says. "It was fine. I was bored. I thought of you most of the time. Now shut up and stop thinking about it."

"You were bored even though you were thinking of me?" Eduardo asks, teasing, but he lets Mark settle more firmly against him.

Mark rolls his eyes. "You weren't actually there, were you?"

"No," Eduardo says softly. He kisses Mark softly. "No, I guess I wasn't."

Mark kisses him again, trying to forestall that digression.

The credits are rolling by the time Eduardo pushes Mark away firmly and yawns in his face. "Sorry," he says, blinking at Mark before yawning again. Mark shakes his head and Eduardo smiles at him, sleepy-eyed.

Mark claims his half of Eduardo's bed while Eduardo moves around in the bathroom. When Eduardo joins him he smells like toothpaste and his face is damp. Mark waits until he's settled and looking drowsy again before he asks, "Why do you do porn?"

Mark has wondered almost since he met Eduardo. It's not something he would've predicted Eduardo would choose to do.

He doesn't get an answer for a long time. Eduardo has gone tense next to him, and Mark has just started to consider rescinding the question – or just going to sleep and letting them both ignore it – when Eduardo sighs. Mark curves a hand over his shoulder.

"I came out to my parents my sophomore year at college," he says. Mark watches his face carefully, but his eyes stay unfocused, dipped to the side. "It didn't go – my father wasn't happy. My mother was fine, I don't think she was surprised, but my father didn't take it well. He was awkward for a while, and when he recovered from his shock, he got angry."

Mark frowns. "Your mother didn't—"

"My mother said he would come around," Eduardo says. "She probably would've been right, but I was upset with him. He was telling me I didn't have permission to bring my boyfriend home, when I didn't even have a boyfriend yet."

"You did porn to get back at him," Mark says.

Eduardo snorts. "It wasn't one of my best ideas. A stupid rebellious gesture. He was never going to know, it wouldn't have mattered. I just wanted to do…something."

"How did he find out?" Mark asks quietly.

Eduardo laughs. It's not a happy sound. "He didn't. A consultant he often collaborated with did. I'm not sure how, whether he just saw an ad or whether he actually was gay, but he brought it to my father's attention."

Mark tucks his feet between Eduardo's calves. Eduardo reaches up, covering Mark's hand with his own. He finally meets Mark's eyes. "Obviously, my father was furious. My mother—" Eduardo winces. "I don't know why I did it."

"They disowned you," Mark says.

"No," Eduardo says, shaking his head and surprising Mark. "Not really. I haven't seen them in four years, but they never legally disowned me. They stopped paying for my schooling, and I dropped out but I still needed a job, so—" Eduardo shrugs, making a face, "—here I am."

"Hm," Mark says contemplatively.

"Yeah," Eduardo says.

"You're a walking cliché," Mark informs him.

Eduardo, who had appeared to be settling into quiet melancholy, looks abruptly confused. "What?"

"A porn star with daddy issues," Mark says. "Every stereotype is realized."

Frowning, Eduardo says, "You're an asshole."

"Not as much as your father," Mark says comfortably, and presses close until Eduardo lets Mark kiss him to sleep. Eduardo is smiling, even if he'll never admit it, and he grips tight to Mark's hand while they kiss.

---

A couple of days later, Dustin makes good on his threat. Mark answers Eduardo's knock on his door, only to see the ominous smile on Eduardo's face and immediately regret it.

"What?" Mark asks suspiciously. He takes a wary step back into his apartment.

"Get shoes," Eduardo says. "Dustin's invited us over. We're supposed to bring pizza and be there in an hour."

Mark frowns. "He didn't tell me."

"He called me, because he thought if he told you, you'd ignore him and never tell me," Eduardo says cheerfully. "And I was inclined to agree." He pushes his way into the apartment and shuts the door behind himself.

Scowling, Mark says, "We don't need to associate with him."

Eduardo kisses the corner of Mark's mouth. "He's your best friend," he says. "I want him to like me."

"Believe me," Mark says darkly. "He likes you."

Eduardo rolls his eyes. "Fine. Then I want to get to know him."

Mark says, "Terrible decision," but goes to get his shoes. Nothing could more effectively put Eduardo off spending time with Dustin than spending time with Dustin.

They get three pizzas and when they arrive at Dustin's apartment – which he has cleaned in honor of Eduardo's visit, Mark can tell, and is mildly offended such courtesy was never extended to him – Mark sits at the cheap plastic kitchen table eating one while Dustin gossips with Eduardo. He has Animal House paused on the TV, and when he hears Eduardo has never seen it, he makes scandalized noises and insists they watch it from the beginning.

"Ugh," Mark says.

"Don't be cranky," Dustin says. He leans in and kisses Mark's cheek. Mark wrinkles his nose. "Think of it this way," Dustin says, much more quietly and just for Mark. "If I'm making him watch dumb comedies, I'm not telling him about your most embarrassing moments."

"No," Mark hisses back. "You're just making me look bad by association."

Dustin grins at Mark once more before sitting next to Eduardo on his couch. He squirms in close to Eduardo, elbowing his side and starting to talk over the movie, narrating things as they happen on-screen. Eduardo gives Mark a mildly perplexed look as he lifts his arm to make room for Dustin. Mark grabs another piece of pizza and leaves Eduardo to get hit when Dustin gets excited.

By the end of the movie, which Eduardo watched mostly with a bemused expression, they've finished the bottle of wine Eduardo insisted on bringing and moved on to Dustin's cheap beer. Mark, rather than watch the movie, has watched Eduardo's reactions. It's easy to imagine him in college – he'd have been one of those perfect kids who tried too hard, who never did anything risky or exciting. Mark thinks he would've hated Eduardo if they'd known each other in college.

The credits roll and Dustin disentangles himself from Mark and Eduardo. He'd reached over to shake Mark's leg for emphasis at one point and never let go, and since Mark was sitting on the other side of Eduardo, that left Dustin half-sprawled rudely across both their laps.

"I'm going to piss," Dustin informs them, ruffling both their hair as he goes.

Eduardo twists to watch him disappear through his bedroom doorway, then turns back to Mark and says, "He's very tactile."

"I've noticed," Mark says dryly. He eyes the TV playing the credits of the movie Dustin knows he hates and recalls Dustin's happy sharing of the banana story. He comes to the conclusion that Dustin doesn't deserve his loyalty. "It's because he wasn't loved enough as a child."

"What?" Eduardo says, frowning.

"That can cause this," Mark says. "Clingy personalities can be formed from being neglected."

"How was he neglected?" Eduardo asks, sounding just a little skeptical.

"He's an orphan," Mark says. "He doesn't have any family."

"That's horrible," Eduardo says, eyes widening. "What happened to them?"

"No idea," Mark says.

"So that's why he—" Eduardo says. "I never would've guessed."

Dustin reappears in the doorway behind Eduardo's shoulder. He raises his eyebrows at Mark, looking equal parts amused and disapproving. Mark ignores him and shrugs at Eduardo. "That's why he films porn. When he ran away from the last foster home, the first place he got a job was at the studio. He never left."

"When he ran away from the last foster home," Eduardo repeats. Then he narrows his eyes. "You're making this up," he says accusingly.

Mark can't stop himself from smiling. Dustin snorts a laugh and steps fully into the room.

"He's an asshole," Dustin tells Eduardo, "and I'm always telling him not to make his lies too implausible. It's what gets him caught every time."

"Lying's also something you've helped him practice?" Eduardo asks lightly.

Dustin shrugs. "When necessary. I don't know exactly what he told you, but since it's come up: I have a father, too many sisters, and a doting mother who thinks I do video editing for a Hollywood studio because it would break her heart to know I spend my days with my camera focused on people's crotches."

"I can see where that might take some adjusting to," Eduardo says.

"I even went to college for a while," Dustin says. "But I had a hard time focusing. Film and photography has always been easier. And porn pays its lackeys better than Hollywood. Well," he amends, "gay porn does."

"He told me you were an orphan," Eduardo says.

"He felt very sorry for you," Mark tells Dustin.

"I'm totally using that the next time I need to pick up a girl," Dustin says.

"You know, I see how you two can be friends now," Eduardo says.

Dustin chortles and starts hooking up his Wii, ever the fan of Mario Party. Eduardo gets up to grab a slice of long-cold pizza and comes back with fresh beers for all three of them. Mark takes his and tilts his head back when Eduardo leans down to peck him on the mouth.

When Eduardo sits down Dustin is watching them. Mark braces himself but Dustin just smiles and throws the controllers to them without comment.

---
***
END PART THREE
***

And that's the pattern they settle into. Mark sees Eduardo most evenings, and Dustin bothers them a couple times a week, and the cat eventually recovers completely from her infection, which improves her temperament not at all. The porn gets easier to deal with. They don't always talk about it, but Mark can get a general sense of how things went without Eduardo's explanation. Really bad shoots mean Eduardo jumps Mark as soon as he gets home, while really good shoots mean a sleepy, lazy Eduardo the first night and an inspired one the following morning. Mark doesn't know if Eduardo can gather the same sort of data from Mark himself.

Almost a month later, their schedules overlap. It's a little odd it hasn't happened before, but how little Mark films probably helped that. Eduardo is only slightly more active, even though he's in higher demand.

Eduardo goes into the studio earlier than Mark, but they're filming on the same floor – albeit opposite ends of the hall – and Mark has imperfect willpower. As he's leaving in the late afternoon, he has to pass Eduardo's studio. He can hear him faintly through the door.

Mark stops to listen. Eduardo doesn't sound overly enthusiastic, and Mark feels smug, but listening turns to watching when Mark lets himself into the studio.

Nobody notices his entrance, least of all Eduardo, who never looks at the circle of cameras never mind past them to the people standing beyond. Mark shoves his hands into his pockets and watches until the scene is finished. Eduardo's bottoming, of course, Mark isn't surprised by that, but he is surprised by the complete lack of heat he feels watching it. He was never going to be turned on – Eduardo faking it is both terribly obvious to Mark now and thoroughly uninspiring – but he's not jealous, either. He'd never quite convinced himself that Eduardo wouldn't interact with other actors at least somewhat similarly to the way he treated Mark, but Eduardo honestly isn't the same at all. His face, when he comes, seems detached, and he isn't touching his costar all over; he's not clinging the way he clings to Mark.

Eduardo appears to talk politely to his costar while they wait for the director – some guy Mark has never met – to give them permission to leave the set. That is entirely what Mark expected, and he rolls his eyes as they head into the dressing room together. The costar rests his hand on Eduardo's back.

Mark dodges through the techs and cameras, following Eduardo's path into the dressing room. The door has just shut behind them when Mark gets to it; he doesn't bother knocking.

"Mark," Eduardo says, blankly surprised, when Mark opens the door.

"Wardo," Mark says. "I finished. I wanted to wait for you."

"Who are you?" the costar asks. Mark ignores him and steps closer to Eduardo.

"That was nice of you," Eduardo says, in a wry tone that suggests he knows exactly what Mark is doing. "You really didn't have to. You could've gone and seen Dustin."

"No," Mark says. He's a couple of feet from Eduardo and can smell the sweat on him. He thinks he'd be willing to put up with the public showers if he were with Eduardo.

"And who's Dustin?" the costar asks.

"You may leave any time," Mark says without looking at him.

Eduardo sighs, making an apologetic face. "This is Mark. He's—"

"I'm his boyfriend," Mark says.

There's a hitch in Eduardo's breath, and the costar says something else, but Mark tunes him out. Eduardo looks kind of annoyed, but he's also looking at Mark with a sort of amazement and reaching for him.

"What—" the costar says, as Eduardo's hands slide across Mark's back and help pull him into a kiss.

"My boyfriend, huh?" he murmurs softly to Mark.

"Obviously," Mark tells him.

The costar makes a frustrated noise and leaves the dressing room, door banging shut behind him. Mark pulls away from Eduardo a little and smirks.

Eduardo rolls his eyes. "Jesus, Mark, next time just pee on me."

Mark wrinkles his nose. "No, thank you."

"That was really very mature," Eduardo continues. "I'm impressed."

"He won't grab your ass again," Mark points out reasonably.

"He wasn't grabbing my ass," Eduardo says. "He was touching my lower back. Here." He slides his hand down Mark's spine, settling in the small of his back, fingers fitting into the divots above Mark's ass.

"It's still possessive," Mark says. "It's how you touch me." He leans back into Eduardo's grip. "And he won't touch you like that again."

"No," Eduardo agrees. "And I'm sure nobody else will either, since the entire studio will know we're dating within three days."

"Good," Mark says defiantly.

It doesn't take three days. It takes one. Dustin calls Mark the next evening and says, "Three separate people have asked me if it's true you've caught Eduardo Saverin. I'm a little disturbed."

"They ask whether I've caught him?" Mark asks indignantly. Eduardo is not an animal to be caught. He slots a look at Eduardo, who is wearing a self-righteous expression.

"Dude, more than that, why does the whole studio think I'll know all the details about your private life? I don't think some of them even know who you are," Dustin says.

Mark rolls his eyes and hangs up. Dustin can get what he deserves for being a gossip whore.

"I told you," Eduardo says.

"I know," Mark says testily.

Eduardo hands Mark a plate without further comment. He's embarked on a quest to teach Mark the basics of cooking, which would probably go a little better if Mark were willing to learn. Since he isn't, he listens to Eduardo narrate his cooking and eats everything when it's done.

---
***
END PART THREE
***

Mark isn't expecting the call from Grams. He's in his kitchen, fighting the urge to kick Cleary, who is refusing to eat his food unless Mark stands over him. Mark took him again in exchange for a peach pie made with freshly harvested peaches. Eduardo, when Mark had called to complain, had been less than sympathetic. He'd laughed the whole time Mark was talking, and then swore he was bringing Cat over to meet Cleary. Mark had thought, rather than socialize with him, Cat would just eat the dog, but Mark doesn't care so he'd agreed.

When his phone goes off again, he assumes it's Eduardo and answers, "You're an asshole."

"You, too, Zuckerberg," Grams says.

Mark frowns, checking the display to be sure it's him. "The fuck, Grams?"

Grams continues, "Total asshole. Fucking Saverin and you have to make sure the whole fucking studio knows."

"Dating," Mark corrects. "Not just fucking."

Groaning, Grams says, "Happy to fucking hear it."

"Why am I talking to you?" Mark says.

"Look, the studio doesn't care about what you do in your free time," Grams says. "Or who. Just as long as it doesn't fuck with either of you doing your jobs."

"It hasn't so far," Mark says. "And it's none of your goddamn business."

"It is when you make it ours by showing up and rubbing it in other people's faces," Grams says.

"No," Mark says flatly, because it's not the studio's business when he kisses his boyfriend behind a closed dressing room door. "They wouldn't care if we were doing it on camera so they could film it. Tell them they can go fuck themselves."

"Told them you'd say that," Grams says, sounding irritatingly proud. "Between you and me, though, I'd prefer you didn't deliberately piss them off too much. I hope to avoid being blackmailed into more conversations about this, kid."

"Then don't bother calling next time," Mark says. "And if you're still supposed to call Eduardo, don't."

Grams doesn't answer; he just hangs up. Mark shakes his head.

Later that night, Eduardo makes good on his threat. Cat takes to Cleary immediately, to Eduardo's amusement and Mark's disgust. She'll lay on the floor with him, licking his head as he pants happily.

Eduardo, leaning heavily into Mark's side, says, "You should get a puppy."

"No," Mark says.

The cat gets tired of the dog and climbs off of him. She works her way closer to the couch, pretending she can't see Mark and Eduardo watching her. She's been getting closer and closer over the past few weeks, and now she jumps up and settles on the arm of the couch nearest to Mark.

Eduardo tilts his head and looks at her. She looks back, eyes wide and mistrustful. "She absolutely loves you," Eduardo says, smiling at Mark. "Stop denying it."

"I will kick you out," Mark says calmly. He reaches up and tangles his fingers in the hair at the nape of Eduardo's neck. In the other room, his phone goes off yet again. It's been buzzing for the last couple of hours. Mark continues to ignore it.

Right on cue, Eduardo says, "Mark," wheedling.

"I'm not getting it," Mark says. "It's just Dustin, he's been bothering me for three days."

Dustin's the only one who's that persistent with his text messages, and Mark is sick of talking to him. He's refusing to answer for at least a full week.

"You're so rude," Eduardo sighs.

The phone goes off again. Mark goes on ignoring it, staying still as Eduardo settles in to nap on him.

Text message from Sean

---

The banging on the door is loud and sudden enough to make Mark startle. Eduardo jumps, too. "Dustin?" he asks.

"No," Mark says, frowning as he gets up to answer. He has no idea who it is, unless it's one of his neighbors come to inform him of an emergency.

It's not. The opened door reveals Sean, standing tall and scruffy and looking none the worse for wear, which is surprising, considering that the last time Mark saw him he was being hauled away in the back of a cop car.

"Sean," Mark says blankly.

"Hey, kiddo," Sean says cheerfully. He steps past Mark into the apartment, throwing his arm around Mark's shoulders to steer him along. "How are things?"

"Good," Mark says automatically. "What are you doing here?"

"I just got back—" He stops abruptly as they step into sight of the living room couch. Eduardo, Mark sees, has sat forward out of his lazy sprawl. He looks shocked, and Sean is staring intently at him.

Mark frowns. "Sean, this is—"

Sean whistles lowly. "So the rumors are true."

"Rumors?" Mark asks. He shuffles a little, but Sean doesn't release his shoulders and doesn't stop staring at Eduardo. The movement draws Eduardo's eyes, but Mark can't read his expression.

"About you and—" Sean makes an exaggerated head nod at the couch. "—you and Eduardo, here."

"You know each other?" Mark says. He feels stupid immediately after, when Eduardo's eyebrows raise incredulously at him.

Sean smiles and says, "You bet. Eduardo and I go way back."

"Really," Mark says suspiciously.

Eduardo smiles tightly. "I didn't know you two knew each other, either."

"Oh, yeah," Sean says. "I practically made Mark."

"Fuck you, you did not," Mark says.

"Found him years ago," Sean informs Eduardo, ignoring Mark's interruption. "Picked him up, found the diamond in the rough, he's never looked back."

Mark rolls his eyes. Sean finally lets go of his shoulders to walk to Eduardo. He holds his hand out. "Eduardo, wonderful to see you again. It's been a while."

Eduardo narrows his eyes but accepts Sean's hand. "Yeah," he says.

Sean settles onto the couch next to Eduardo, who presses himself closer against the arm. Cat has disappeared, and Mark reluctantly sits on Sean's other side when he pats the couch cushion. "So what have you kids been up to?" he asks.

Mark shrugs. Eduardo's mouth thins and he stays equally quiet.

"I'm always happy to hear you haven't gotten arrested for your hacking yet," Sean says.

"What about you?" Mark interrupts before Sean can say anything more specific.

"I was modeling," Sean says. "In Europe, of course."

"Of course?" Mark repeats.

"Probably nude," Eduardo mutters.

Sean grins over at him. "Good guess."

Mark stares at Sean's profile. He doesn't see any signs Sean is lying, which means he's probably telling the truth. Sean is shit at lying to Mark, because he doesn't have any practice with it. There's never been anything he had to lie about.

Everyone Mark knows – and everyone Dustin knows, by association – had said Sean had gone to rehab. Mark hadn't heard from him and had eventually assumed they were right. It's probably the only place Sean wouldn't have access to the phone or internet.

Mark elbows him hard.

"Ow, dude," Sean says.

"Why the fuck didn't you call?" Mark says. He's glad Sean's not in jail or rehab – though maybe rehab would've been a good thing, what does Mark know – and has returned to annoy him unscathed.

Sean raises his hands placatingly. "I just got busy. I texted you as soon as I was back in the state. Not my fault you still haven't learned to answer your phone."

Mark frowns. "I thought it was Dustin."

"Your loss," Sean says, shrugging. "If you'd answered me we could've met at a club somewhere. I wouldn't have had to interrupt your quiet night at home."

He glances around the apartment, looking bemused, obviously taking in the dishes on the counter and Cleary, hiding in the corner of the kitchen, and Eduardo's shoes and socks under the coffee table.

"So really," Sean says. "How'd you two get to know each other?"

"We met on set," Mark says.

"It's none of your business," Eduardo says at the same time.

Mark leans back to stare quizzically at Eduardo behind Sean's head. Eduardo looks back, frowning. Sean, after taking a quick look at Eduardo, turns his head towards Mark and raises his eyebrows with a smirk. "On set," he prompts.

"Yeah," Mark answers. He shrugs. "Filming."

"Never thought I'd see the day you were settled in domestic bliss," Sean says. He reaches up and ruffles Mark's hair. Mark tries to duck away but the couch isn't big enough. "You, either, Eduardo," Sean says, in a much slower drawl, and Mark can't see Sean's face but he can see Eduardo's stiff expression.

"It's only been a few months," Mark protests.

Sean doesn't even look back around at him. "Really?"

"Not that it's any of your business," Eduardo says again.

Mark frowns. He's never seen Eduardo react like this to anyone. "Sean—" he starts.

"Hey," Sean says. He stretches his arms along the back of the couch. Mark ignores the way his hand slides familiarly over the back of his neck. Going by Eduardo's unsubtle flinch, he's obviously not so accustomed to it. "Filming, huh. Have you two done a lot of that together?"

"Not really," Mark says. Eduardo just shrugs noncommittally.

"I've got a scene coming up I've been a little wary of," Sean says.

"Are you looking for advice?" Mark asks sarcastically.

Sean waves his hand, a flutter of movement Mark can see out of the corner of his eye before the weight settles back on his shoulder and pulls him closer to Sean. "I was thinking you could help me more directly."

"How?" Mark asks, suspicious. He went on a drug run for Sean once, picking up whatever the drugs were his costar swore he needed; Sean had been trying to get into his pants on a more regular basis than the erratic filming schedule provided for, and he'd called Mark repeatedly and begged until he'd gone to pick them up from a hippie on the west side. Never again.

"Just make things more fun," Sean says. "I'm pretty new to threesomes, and I thought it'd be easier to get back into the swing of things if I did my first shoot with a couple of people I know."

"Excuse me?" Eduardo asks, sounding disbelieving.

Sean shrugs. "Just an offer."

His hand rubs at Mark's shoulder, and Mark shrugs and says, "Okay, whatever."

At the same moment, Eduardo stands up from the couch, shaking off Sean's grip as he snaps, "Absolutely not."

Mark stares up at him. Even Sean seems taken aback, looking at Eduardo with the same bemused expression he'd treated the socks to.

"Don't feel obligated," Sean says.

Eduardo stares at Mark; Mark stares back, feeling almost as lost as Sean looks.

"Mark," Eduardo says.

"What?" Mark says.

Eduardo narrows his eyes further, but after a few more seconds he shakes his head, apparently giving up. "I should get going."

"Bedtime?" Sean asks sympathetically.

Eduardo leans down to fish his socks and shoes from under the table. Sean checks out his ass unashamedly, and only shrugs when Mark elbows him and glares.

"Why—" Mark says.

"Busy day tomorrow," Eduardo says flatly, not looking at either of them as he sits down to put his socks on.

Mark knows he's lying. He's not doing anything tomorrow, but even he can tell Eduardo's just saying it as a way out.

Shoes successfully acquired, Eduardo disappears into the kitchen, probably to retrieve his wallet from the counter. Cleary runs from him, skittering into Mark's bedroom at full speed.

"The fuck?" Sean says, watching his puff of a tail disappear around the doorframe.

"Call me tomorrow," Eduardo says. He pulls open the front door and barely waits for Mark's confused not before leaving.

"I think he's upset about something," Sean says helpfully.

Mark gets off the couch. There's really no reason to be that near Sean. "I noticed," he says.

From the bedroom, Cat's meaning growl can be heard, shortly before Cleary's pathetic little yelp. He probably stepped on her tail.

"You have a damn menagerie," Sean says.

"Neither of them is mine," Mark says, peering into the bedroom. Eduardo has indeed left Cat here, food bowl and all.

"Really, though," Sean says. "Of all the people. Never thought you even knew Eduardo."

Mark could say the same thing. "We met recently. Why do you care?"

"I don't," Sean says, holding up his hands placatingly. "Just didn't figure you for the dating type."

Mark shrugs awkwardly. He isn't, really, so Sean is right.

"Anyway," Sean says. "You gotta tell me more about you two. He's difficult, right?"

"Difficult," Mark says.

"He's got a reputation," Sean says, nodding. He stretches out and puts his feet on the coffee table.

"Eduardo?" Mark says. If either of them had that reputation, Mark wouldn't have guessed it'd be Eduardo.

"Yeah," Sean says, "to put it mildly. You know, they say he's—"

"Shut up, Sean," Mark says. He's never cared before, and he's got no intention of listening to bullshit about Eduardo. There's no way anyone who actually knows him could have bad things to say; he rescues feral fucking cats in his free time.

Of course, he then dumps those cats on Mark, so he loses any real points he might've gotten for that.

"I'm sure you two are happy," Sean says, "so it doesn't matter."

"Yes," Mark says firmly.

Sean looks at him appraisingly for a while, but finally he drops his feet off the table. "So I'll text you tomorrow," he says.

Mark frowns.

"About the shoot," Sean says. "With you and the boyfriend."

Mark is pretty sure Eduardo's not interested. "I don't think Eduardo's interested," he says.

Sean shrugs, standing and stretching. "You can talk to him." he yawns hugely. "Fucking jet lag. I've got shit to do, I'm not sleeping at fucking midnight."

"Bye," Mark says. He doesn't point out that it's almost one.

"Dude, wait till I'm at the door," Sean says. "Otherwise it sounds like you're kicking me out."

"I am kicking you out," Mark says. He's not going to wait until tomorrow to call Eduardo.

"Alright, whatever," Sean says, sounding indulgent. "Have un with your pets."

"They're not—" Mark says, but the door shuts being Sean with a decisive click.

Mark calls Eduardo as soon as he digs his phone up, but it goes straight to voicemail. Frowning, Mark tries twice more, to the same result. He's forced to conclude Eduardo turned his phone off, since Mark saw it still had half battery only an hour ago. Perturbed, he settles into bed with his laptop, ignoring the weight as Cleary and Cat settle on his feet.

---

Calls the next morning get no answer, either, and by eleven Mark has just started trying to decide whether he's annoyed or worried. On one hand, Eduardo told him to call, and that he's not answering now is mildly concerning, offering the suggestion that he perhaps can't answer, and it makes Mark start to think skeptically of car accidents. On the other hand, Mark doesn't think it'd be entirely uncharacteristic for Eduardo to ignore him in a fit of pique. He'd probably claim he was giving himself time to calm down or something equally incomprehensible.

Mark finally decides he'll wait until dinnertime, call once more, then, if there's still no response, go to Eduardo's apartment to see if he's dead. In the meantime, Mark has to go get cat food, because Eduardo only brought enough in the bowl for last night. Cat is getting antsy, and Mark doesn't want to see if she likes Clearly enough not to eat him. Since Mark also isn't willing to sacrifice some of his tuna for her, he has to go to the corner store to get canned food. The inconvenience kind of pisses him off, and he thinks uncharitable thoughts about Eduardo's lack of consideration.

Around 1 p.m. his phone buzzes with an incoming call. It's Eduardo, and as Mark answers he's careful to keep his voice blank. He doesn't know what Eduardo would hear in it otherwise.

"Hi, Mark," Eduardo says after Mark has said hello. "Sorry I didn't answer earlier."

Something about his voice and the way he keeps clearing his throat reminds Mark of Dustin. "Are you hung over?" he asks suspiciously.

Eduardo sighs. "I just meant to have a couple of beers while I watched a late night movie."

Translation: he drank himself into a stupor. Mark narrows his eyes at Cat, who's licking her mouth contentedly and surveying the domain of Mark's living room. "You left your cat," he says to Eduardo.

Eduardo groans. "Yeah, I know."

Mark waits for him to apologize. He doesn't, and Mark doesn't know where to go from here. "Are you going to come get her?" he hazards.

Eduardo's voice sharpens. "That depends. Is Sean still there?"

"Sean," Mark says.

Eduardo doesn't say anything further.

Finally, Mark snaps, "No, Sean isn't here. He left right after you did. Would you come over now?"

"Love to," Eduardo says, sounding more than a little sarcastic. "I have to shower first."

He hangs up without ceremony. Mark grabs the cat carrier in the front hall and sticks the food bowl in it. He's going to have Cat ready to go when Eduardo gets here to minimize the risk of being stuck with her another night. She's too comfortable in his apartment.

Not comfortable enough to make catching her easy. She flattens her ears as soon as he walks towards her and throws herself off his bed. She's learned not to run into the bathroom, so when Mark finally corners her it's in the kitchen. She growls uselessly, and he scoops her up and deposits her in the carrier, latching it and waiting for Eduardo. She's quieter about it now, accustomed to usual travel, and she stops yowling after a couple minutes. Cleary comes and sits by the carrier, whining, and that sets her off again until Mark puts the carrier on the counter and shuts both of them up.

He needs Eduardo to get here soon.

---

The knock on the door comes almost twenty minutes later, and Mark drags himself off the couch and answers it, feeling unaccountably nervous. Eduardo's wearing sunglasses and an old t-shirt, the picture of a cliché. Mark steps aside wordlessly to let him in.

He puts his sunglasses on top of Cat's carrier and wiggles his fingers at her through the door before turning to face Mark. "Hi."

"Why'd you leave?" Mark says.

Eduardo shrugs. "Because you pissed me off."

"Why?" Mark asks, trying to be patient.

"You agreed to do a threesome with me and Sean Parker," Eduardo says. "Without talking to me first. I didn't even know you knew him."

"He said the same thing," Mark says. Eduardo glowers. Mark ignores it. "Why does it matter I didn't talk to you first? I said yes, you said no, Sean and I will do it with someone else."

"He brought it up because he wanted to film with both of us," Eduardo says.

Mark shrugs. "So?"

Shaking his head, Eduardo says, "I don't like him."

"I do," Mark says.

Eduardo makes a frustrated sound. "I'm trying to ask you not to do it, Mark. I don't want you sleeping with him."

"Filming with him," Mark corrects. "And it's work, you never want to talk about what I film anyway."

"I don't want you to film it with him at all," Eduardo says.

"Why?" Mark says. "Tell me why you don't like him."

Eduardo's mouth thins.

Mark frowns back and says, "He's texting me the info later today. I'll tell him you're not interested."

"Yeah, fuck you, too," Eduardo mutters. He stoops and picks up Cat's carrier, letting himself out without another word. Mark scowls at the door and thinks he could've gone another few hours without hearing from Eduardo.

---

It's a matter of pride, and one Mark thinks is justified. Eduardo has no right dictating what he does with his career, never mind who his friends are. Mark is going to film whatever the hell he wants, and Eduardo will calm down and get over it eventually, Mark is sure. There's no real reason for him to be upset, and once Mark's done filming with Sean, he'll realize there was no problem with it and start answering Mark's texts again.

Of course, as it is, Mark hasn't heard from him in four days. He's tried texting him several times: about mundane things, from the thank-you pie May gave him when she retrieved Cleary to the wailing baby in the apartment across the hall, and about important things, like why he's such an antagonistic asshole about Sean and why he won't reply to Mark's messages.

Mark is filming with Sean later today, and he'll try calling Eduardo again afterwards, when it'll be done and over with and he can prove there was no reason to be angry.

They're recording on the studio's second floor, and Mark takes the stairs up at a little after ten. He's late, but Sean usually is too; Mark won't be surprised if he still gets there first.

He is surprised, a little, when Sean turns out to already be there. He's sitting in the dressing room with the costar, a young dark blond guy who barely gives Mark a second glance, he's so wrapped up in Sean. Sean is lounging around in his underwear, and he drags Mark close to introduce him to the third guy. Mark ignores the introductions, disentangling himself from Sean's grip, and a set guy knocks on the door telling them to come out.

Sean and the third guy head out onto set. Mark picks a corner and starts to strip, trying to shake himself further awake and get ready.

He picks a standard fantasy – nothing complicated, just Eduardo, and what it would've been like those first few days if they hadn't been scripted. His cock stirs helpfully at first, and Mark fists it, but after a few fruitless minutes and an impatient knock by a staffer on the dressing room door, Mark snarls.

He can't get hard. This hasn't happened to him before – though it supposedly happens to everyone eventually, especially if your costar is some little asshole just out of his pimples who wiggles around like an overexcited puppy – but it's never happened to Mark, and especially never on a shoot he actually wanted to do.

But he thinks of Eduardo, of going home and not-talking about this, ignoring the fact that Mark fucked – or was fucked by, or helped fuck someone else with, he's not sure of the logistics here yet – Sean, and remembers the way Eduardo's eyes had darkened on Sean's name while he'd spat out the word like a curse, and he won't do it. It's probably just laziness, but he doesn't want to put any more effort into dealing with this than he'll already have to; it'd be better to go find Eduardo now, and skip the whole movie.

"Sean," Mark says, coming out of the dressing room.

Sean's on the edge of set, arm dressed around the pretty third guy they've picked up for the scene. He turns to Mark, smiling, but it fades when he catches sight of Mark's clothes.

"You're bailing," he says.

Mark shrugs. "I can't do this. Eduardo really doesn't want me to."

"Whipped," Sean says.

Mark shrugs again. He's not going to argue; avoiding something because it might upset your boyfriend probably is Sean's definition of whipped. It's also probably why he's never had a boyfriend. But Mark does, and whipped or not, he thinks it's been long enough that he has these sorts of obligations to Eduardo.

"Go on, then," Sean says. "And tell him he better put out for a week to make up for what you'll be missing with this shoot."

"You're not that good a fuck, Sean," Mark says dryly.

"You wouldn't know, would you?" Sean says, grinning, and when Mark still hesitates he steps away from the curious costar, who's darting looks between them, and pushes Mark toward the door. "Come on, get lost. Make your escape before the director catches you out of costume and sends someone to fix that."

"I'll see you," Mark says, sounding more unsure than he meant to.

"You'll never be free of me," Sean says solemnly. "Now go smooth your boyfriend's easily ruffled feathers."

---

Mark texts Eduardo again but the message, like the others, goes unanswered. He takes the stairs down to ground level and heads outside, and the slap of heat on his face forces him to make a decision.

Dustin's better at relationship advice than Sean.

He's got the day off, which Mark only knows because they've been texting incessantly the last couple of days. Dustin says Mark's forcing him to substitute for Eduardo's absence in Mark's life. Mark has only been texting him because Dustin had asked if he knew Sean was back in town, and Mark had ended up calling him and spitting out the whole thing. Listening to Dustin's sympathetic bitching would've been reassuring, except Dustin had only made disapproving noises and hung up on him, and had been texting him ever since, telling him to make it up to Eduardo.

Mark doesn't bother to text a warning of his arrive. Dustin is in sweatpants when he opens his door, which is better dressed than Mark usually sees him, and that, along with his prompt timing, means he was waiting for Mark.

"I wasn't expecting you for another couple of hours," Dustin says as he holds the door open. "You're supposed to be filming with Sean right now."

"I'm supposed to do a lot of things," Mark says. Dustin has cold leftover Thai food sitting on the kitchen table. Mark hates this table – he always runs into it when he's stumbling around Dustin's apartment drunk or during early mornings – but he's willing to avail himself of the food offerings set upon it. He picks a carton at random and opens it to reveal noodles. He shrugs and picks some out with his fingers. They're not the best, but they'll do.

"Great, now that I've fed you," Dustin says, rolling his eyes. "What are you here for now?"

Mark would protest, but Dustin's right and besides, his mouth is full. Instead he shrugs.

Dustin, per usual, doesn't seem to require his input. "Obviously Eduardo's not here," he says. "And you're supposed to be filming porn with Sean but you're not. I'm going to guess you still haven't apologized to your pissed off boyfriend, decided, maybe even for the right reasons, not to do the shoot, and now you want me to fix everything."

"I don't want you to fix it," Mark says, swallowing another mouthful of noodles.

"Don't drop those on the carpet," Dustin says. "And bullshit."

Scowling, Mark says, "You can't fix it."

"Well, at least you realize that," Dustin says. "Go and apologize to him."

"He won't answer his phone," Mark says. He doesn't protest when Dustin takes the carton of noodles. They were stale anyway.

"Go," Dustin says. "As in, go over there."

Mark hesitates.

"Mark," Dustin prompts.

"How do I make sure he'll talk to me?" Mark asks.

"I don't know," Dustin says. "Probably just by showing up. Stay until neither of you is angry."

Mark stares at him.

Dustin rolls his eyes. "Look, just tell him – why didn't you go through with the filming today?"

"I couldn't," Mark mutters.

"Sorry?" Dustin says.

"I couldn't get it up," Mark says. "So I couldn't go through with it."

He's not looking forward to the mockery that will come his way for this one. To his surprise, though, Dustin just purses his mouth and stares at him.

"Well?" Mark says.

Sighing, Dustin shuffles over to his kitchen counter, fumbling around before he comes up with keys. "Come on," he says. "I'll help you fix it."

Gratified, Mark follows him to his car.

---

Eduardo answers the knock on his door with a surprised-sounding, "Dustin?"

Dustin pulls Mark over from the wall where he'd hidden him from the peephole's gaze. "Hey, dude," he says.

"Oh," Eduardo says, eyeing Mark unhappily.

"Can we come in?" Dustin says, shoving past Eduardo. "Thanks."

Mark begins to think he's going to have to pay Dustin back for some of this one day.

"What are you doing here?" Eduardo asks Mark.

Mark opens his mouth. Dustin beats him to it.

"You broke Mark's dick," Dustin says.

"What?" Eduardo says, startled out of his frown.

"Mark couldn't get it up on set today," Dustin says. "You broke his dick when you got mad at him."

"Excuse me?" Eduardo repeats.

"You can't be mad at him for doing porn if he didn't actually do the porn," Dustin says. "But for what it's worth, I totally agree with you, he'd be an asshole if he had."

Cocking his head, Eduardo says, "This has what to do with you?"

"I'm just saying," Dustin says. "You broke him, ruined the shoot, no fucking or getting fucked today."

Eduardo looks back at Mark. "You didn't film today?"

Mark shrugs.

Dustin groans. "You're welcome," he says to Mark, very pointedly. "Don't screw up my good start."

"Fuck off, Dustin," Mark says.

"Yeah, fuck off, Dustin," Eduardo says, but he doesn't look as angry anymore.

"Good luck, Wardo." Dustin lets himself be shuffled out the door, and he gives Mark obnoxious thumbs-up over Eduardo's shoulder. Mark is pretty sure Eduardo actually smiled at him before the door shut.

Fucking Dustin. Mark is left to stare at Eduardo.

"So I broke your dick," Eduardo says. He skirts around Mark, out into the open space of the living room, putting more room between them.

"Not literally," Mark says. He takes a step forward, gratified when Eduardo doesn't back any further away.

"Just technically," Eduardo says. "So when did you reschedule the shoot for?"

"I didn't."

Eduardo looks skeptical, and Mark bites his lip. "I'm not going to film with Sean. I won't do it if it makes you this angry."

"Do you want to do it?" Eduardo says lowly.

Mark shrugs. "I thought it would be more fun than the standard porn shoot. Sean's my friend. I don't want to fuck him."

Eduardo hesitates and then asks, "Have you ever? Before you met me?"

"Fucked Sean?" Mark shrugs. "No."

"Oh," Eduardo says, looking way too relieved. "I thought, with how much you two seemed to like each other—"

"But we haven't," Mark says. "Which I would've told you if you'd stayed around long enough to ask."

"I wanted to talk to you," Eduardo says, looking annoyed. "You didn't get the hint."

"So tell me next time," Mark says irritably.

"That's difficult, since I didn't want Sean to know I wanted to talk to you," Eduardo says. "So I decided I should leave."

"You weren't as subtle as you think," Mark says.

Eduardo raises his eyebrows. "I was really angry."

"Yeah," Mark says. He licks his lip and says, "So why do you hate Sean so much. You owe me that explanation."

"For the record, I'd've been pissed off at you agreeing the two of us would do a threesome no matter who the third person was," Eduardo says.

"Noted," Mark says dryly. "Now tell me what your undoubtedly overblown hatred for Sean is about."

"It's not overblown," Eduardo says.

"It must be," Mark says blankly. "He likes you."

"I've noticed," Eduardo mutters. "Look, you know I said I don't date anyone in porn? Before Sean, that wasn't an issue."

Mark frowns heavily. "You dated Sean?"

Eduardo grimaces. "No."

"So?" Mark prompts, impatient and unwillingly relieved.

Eduardo sighs and leans back against the counter, crossing his arms. "Sean and I…did a lot of videos together. The studio kept putting us together. After a while, Sean decided we should—" Eduardo pauses. "Well, I don't remember his particular phrasing, but basically he suggested we should take it out of the studio and into real life. Except there was a particularly vulgar reference to 'fucking my ass when it wasn't just open for hire.'"

Mark feels his mouth tighten. That sounds like Sean. "Was he high at the time?" he asks.

Eduardo narrows his eyes. "Isn't he always high?"

Ignoring that, Mark says, "So Sean tried to pick you up. Sean tries to pick everyone up."

"When I finally convinced him I was serious about saying no," Eduardo says. "He told everyone at the studio that I was frigid and uptight and had daddy issues. The other actors talked about me for months."

"How'd he know about the daddy issues?" Mark asks.

"He didn't," Eduardo says tightly. "Lucky guess. But he almost ruined my career—"

"A career you hate," Mark says.

"That's not the point," Eduardo snaps, and Mark nods reluctantly. Eduardo continues, "And all of that was before he knew anything about me. People I worked with after him looked at me oddly, and he could've said much worse things if he actually knew me. I hadn't even thought about dating someone I worked with before he asked, but after that I decided I was never going to let the two overlap."

Eduardo falls silent, glaring unhappily down at the kitchen linoleum.

"You must've convinced him you meant 'no' in a pretty humiliating way," Mark says. "To make him trash you that badly."

A flush appears faintly on Eduardo's cheeks. "Only because I'd said no dozens of times before and he refused to listen! I made sure to tell him in a way he couldn't brush off."

"In public," Mark says, because that part's obvious. "On set?"

Eduardo ducks his head.

"On tape?" Mark says, starting to smile.

"Like I said: some way he couldn't brush off," Eduardo says.

Any remaining irritation Mark feels at Eduardo for his overreaction to Sean is absolved. Somewhere in the studio archives there is footage of Sean getting probably spectacularly dumped. Mark will set Dustin to find it and he'll have something to hold over Sean's head in the event Mark's own embarrassments ever resurface.

"Okay," Mark says. "I get it."

Eduardo's head jerks up and he blinks at Mark. "You get it?"

"Sean can be a dick," Mark says. "I like him. I understand why you wouldn't."

Looking vaguely suspicious, Eduardo asks, "That's it?"

"I won't work with him," Mark says. "I haven't rescheduled the shoot, and I won't. They can find someone else."

Mark can hear Eduardo breathe out. "Thank you," Eduardo says.

Shrugging, Mark steps forward when Eduardo reaches for him. Eduardo kisses his cheek and then his mouth. His tongue brings a quick burst of chili pepper hotness, probably from the tacos he eats too many of; Mark kisses back anyway.

"Wait," Mark says, a minute later. "I told you I wanted to fuck you without a script when we first met."

"Yes," Eduardo says, smiling. "And believe me, the similarity to Sean did not count in your favor. But I liked you anyway."

Mark is not pleased to hear he took a similar approach to Sean. Sean would undoubtedly crow that it's his superior experience rubbing off on Mark, but Mark has never wanted to acquire Sean's ways of interacting with people. He suspects he wouldn't be able to pull them off well.

"Stop frowning," Eduardo says.

---

Eduardo returns the question later. They're in bed. Eduardo has his cheek pressed against Mark's. It feels like cuddling, but Mark thinks Eduardo is doing it so he won't have to look at him.

They've been forced to share a pillow because Cat joined them on the bed and claimed the other one. Eduardo, when she'd jumped up, and held onto Mark's wrist and forbidden him from shoving her off, cooing about how she never came this near him if Mark wasn't around.

"Why do you like Sean so much?" Eduardo asks.

Mark just shrugs. The question is biased and the answer purely subjective, and besides, Eduardo wouldn't understand.

At his continued silence, Eduardo makes a quietly frustrated noise and asks instead, "How do you two know each other?"

Mark shrugs again but chooses to answer this one. "He's the one who got me into porn."

"What?" Eduardo says, a little too loudly for his proximity to Mark's ear. "Sorry," he adds, more quietly; he probably felt Mark's wince.

"You know I got kicked out of college," Mark says.

"Yeah," Eduardo says, nodding. His cheek rasps against Mark's, and Mark plays his fingers over Eduardo's arm.

"I went to New York City immediately after," Mark says. "It was close and seemed like a good place to spend some time and figure out what I needed to do next—"

"You mean," Eduardo says, and Mark can feel smiling as much as hear it in his voice, "it was a good place to mope."

"No," Mark says flatly. "I don't mope. And do you want me to tell you this?"

"Sorry," Eduardo says, putting a little more distance between them. It's not an improvement. He stares intently at Mark, wide-eyed and enraptured. Mark wants to tell him to shut his eyes, or at least remind him that this isn't some drama.

"I went to a club one night, I don't remember why," and here Eduardo snorts; Mark ignores him, "and met Sean there."

"He tried to pick you up, you mean," Eduardo says.

"I don't think so," Mark says, frowning thoughtfully.

Eduardo makes a derisive noise.

"I'm not really his type," Mark points out. "I ended up staying in his hotel room with him." Grudgingly, Mark admits, "He might've felt sorry for me."

"How old were you?" Eduardo asks, running his hand up and down Mark's side.

"Nineteen," Mark says. "I got kicked out during my sophomore year."

Eduardo opens his mouth. Mark says, "Don't say you're sorry again. You had nothing to do with it, and there's nothing to be sorry for."

"If you say so," Eduardo says quietly. "So you hung out with Sean for a couple of days."

"At first he didn't tell me what he did," Mark says. "I assumed he had inherited money, but finally he told me he was in time for a photo shoot – some of the first modeling he did."

"Not naked, I assume," Eduardo says. "Since he hadn't worked his way to Europe yet."

"I don't know," Mark says. "I didn't ask. But when he was done, he took me out to celebrate, and he got really drunk on too much champagne, and finally I had to drag him back to the hotel. He was pissed off he hadn't found anyone to fuck, and decided I'd do."

Eduardo makes an outraged noise. "You said—"

Mark rolls his eyes. "We made out for a while. I let him take my clothes off. He passed out before anything else happened."

"Charming," Eduardo says.

"Anyway," Mark says pointedly. "He woke up hung over, we never had sex, but he finally told me what he spent most of his time doing, since he told me he was flying back out to California that afternoon. He said I should come with him and try out. I didn't think I'd do it, but I had nothing better to do, so I told my parents I was transferring to a college on the west coast and came with him."

"And they took you," Eduardo murmurs.

"Yeah," Mark says. "And then I met you."

"Well, then you met Dustin—"

"And then I met you," Mark says. "Sean came and went a lot. I didn't really have much to do with him while working; I think he's kept us apart." Sean's successful, and personable, enough to have that sort of influence. The studio and directors just sort of seem to do what he asks.

"So he's the one to blame for corrupting all your potential," Eduardo says.

Mark rolls his eyes. Of course Eduardo would choose to see it that way. "I corrupted my own potential just fine."

Dryly, Eduardo says, "That's not something you need to sound so proud of."

"Do you have any idea what I was doing by the time I was thirteen?" Mark demands.

"Not porn, I hope," Eduardo says, still amused by his own wit and entirely, obtusely missing the goddamn point.

"I was not some innocent victim," Mark says, "corrupted."

"Mark," Eduardo murmurs. "Calm down. I know."

"I don't want you finding a way to loathe Sean even more for this," Mark grumbles. He ignores Eduardo's nosing along his neck.

"I will loathe Sean just as much as I want regardless of what you intend," Eduardo says. "If I want to blame him for corrupting a bright college student and keeping him from completing his degree and going on to change the world, I can."

His tone is too warm to suggest he actually feels that way. Still, Mark points out, "If he hadn't, I probably never would've met you."

"Fine," Eduardo says, laughing softly. "Have it your way." He kisses behind Mark's ear and Mark turns his head, fighting the urge to squirm.

"And I doubt I would've changed the world," Mark points out.

Eduardo kisses Mark, pushing him back into the pillow. Mark doesn't know if one of them accidentally bumps Cat or her pillow or if she's honestly upset by their new behavior, but she yowls at the top of her lungs and hisses, swiping a paw at Eduardo.

"Ow, fuck," Eduardo yelps, throwing himself off of Mark. Mark slaps at Cat until she runs away; even then she just tries to slink to the bottom of the bed, still eyeing Eduardo and growling. Mark kicks at her through the covers and finally convinces her to escape the room.

"She actually scratched me," Eduardo says, sounding bemused more than anything.

Mark reaches up to press his fingers to the side of Eduardo's cheek where small beads of blood have formed. "Asshole cat," he mutters.

"She really likes you," Eduardo says, and Mark scowls at him and keeps his fingers pressed against the scratch.

"She's a bitch," Mark says.

"No, she's a queen," Eduardo says, eyes glittering.

Mark is not impressed by Eduardo's wordplay. Eduardo laughs at him when he says so and goes back to the kissing, ignoring the sluggishly bleeding cut, which he says he'll take as his due for defiling Cat's favorite person in front of her.

Mark isn't sure at first whether to be more offended by Eduardo's claim that he's Cat's favorite person – and the implication that such status would mean something – or at the suggestion that he's the one being defiled. Eduardo laughs at his protests but promises to make it up to him.

Mark looks up Sean and Eduardo's videos. He knows he shouldn't – he really doesn't want to watch Sean touch Eduardo, he likes Sean, he doesn't want to start hating him – but the temptation is too great. He downloads the three most popular ones, and Jesus, Eduardo wasn't kidding when he said they'd done a lot; Mark finds eleven. He skips through them, unable to watch in real time.

He understands why Sean might've thought Eduardo was interested in him. Mark doesn't know if Eduardo's gotten better at acting since or if the sex was just that good, but even watching Sean fuck into Eduardo and later come on his face in thirty-second increments, Mark can see how much more real it looks than most porn. Eduardo does his moaning thing, constant infuriating encouragement, and he looks a little like he does when he's with Mark.

By the end of the third movie, Mark suspects that the sex was just that good. Eduardo had to beg at the end of this last one, part of a contrived, stereotypical scene, but his voice had actually cracked partway through and Sean hadn't been faking the greedy look in his eyes at all. Eduardo probably hadn't been acting, but Sean definitely hadn't been. He, at least back then, had honestly wanted Eduardo.

Mark grits his teeth and deletes the videos. It was Eduardo's own fault; if he'd been less vocal, Sean probably wouldn't have been so interested.

"We're going to try something," Mark says, crawling over Eduardo that night after he gives up the last round of catch-the-cat and flops exhausted onto the couch. He's trying to force her to accept petting, since she's begun to allow Mark to carry her around from place to place. Eduardo thinks her acceptance of Mark's touch means she's ready to be socialized; Mark thinks her acceptance of his touch only comes because she knows he won't try to socialize her. She continues to deftly avoid Eduardo, lending credence to Mark's theory.

"We are?" Eduardo asks as his hand comes up to comb through the hair at the back of Mark's neck.

Mark shakes him off. "Yes. I am going to fuck you, and you are not going to make a sound."

Eduardo frowns, bemused. "What?"

"I was watching some of your videos earlier today—"

"You know I don't like it when you—"

"And you're always so fucking loud," Mark says. "It's irritating."

"I'm too loud in bed," Eduardo says flatly.

"Yes," Mark says.

"You realize that is an utterly bizarre complaint," Eduardo says. "I've never heard anyone object to that before."

"But I want to fuck you without you making a sound," Mark says. "I mean, I doubt you can do it—"

"Fuck you, of course I can," Eduardo says indignantly, and then narrows his eyes. "Oh, damn it."

Mark shrugs, feeling triumphant, and climbs off his lap. "Get undressed, lay down on the bed, and shut up."

"You're such a nice person," Eduardo says, but he goes to the bedroom.

Mark catches the cat, grabbing her tail to keep her from running off then scooping her up. "You are going to be quiet, too," he informs her and drops her in the spare bedroom.

"Are you talking to the cat?" Eduardo calls.

"I told you to be quiet," Mark tells him, walking into the bedroom. At least Eduardo is naked and lying down. Two out of three isn't too bad.

"We're not having sex yet," Eduardo says.

"Be quiet," Mark says.

Eduardo takes a deep breath and gets the hint, shutting his mouth firmly. Mark smiles. Eduardo glares.

Mark isn't sure where to start. Eduardo isn't exactly cooperative, staying stiff and unyielding when Mark tries to move his arms away from his sides.

"I want you quiet, not playing dead," Mark says, scowling.

Eduardo glares harder.

Mark sighs and runs a hand up Eduardo's chest, trying to convey good intentions. Eduardo's expression softens a little, hands going relaxed by his hips.

Leaning down to kiss Eduardo's collarbone, Mark isn't surprised to feel Eduardo's arms come up around him. One wraps securely around his back and the other hand comes up to tangle in the curls at the base of Mark's head.

Humming encouragingly, Mark lets himself be pulled into a kiss. Eduardo's kisses are still distracting, and Mark licks deeper into his mouth. He doesn't notice the tiny noises Eduardo is making until they break for breath and some of the sound escapes his open mouth.

Mark leans in and bites at Eduardo's lip. He makes an outraged noise and jerks away. "I told you," Mark says. "Be quiet."

Eduardo rolls his eyes and pointedly shuts his mouth again, but at least he's not glaring this time. Mark smiles again, he can't help it, and leans down to kiss Eduardo's tense mouth, moving to his jaw and his neck. Eduardo squirms a little when Mark hits the sensitive spot at the base of his throat but Mark can't feel any vibrations or hear any sound besides the rustle of the sheets as they both move a little, so he keeps going.

The loud indrawn breath Eduardo makes as Mark noses down his belly doesn't count, Mark decides. He's just sucking his stomach in because he's ticklish, and it'd be unfair not to account for that.

He leans up to suck on Eduardo's nipples for a while, partly to tease him and partly to see if he'll get impatient. He doesn't, and he's fully hard against Mark's thigh. Mark grinds down against him sympathetically, and Eduardo chews hard on his lip but doesn't make a noise.

"You're doing a lot better than I thought you would," Mark says.

Eduardo releases his lip slowly and breathes out loudly, obviously still irritated.

"I wanted to fuck you," Mark says. "But that seems a little unfair, everything considered, so I guess we can work up to that. If you're quiet while I blow you, I'll just let you come that way. If not, I'm changing my mind and fucking you anyway. Deal?"

Eduardo raises his eyebrows, looking hilariously torn.

Mark smiles at him and slides back down. He picks up where he left off, licking over Eduardo's hips and ignoring his cock for now. He drags his nose along the crease of Eduardo's thigh, smelling sweat and precome and himself on Eduardo's skin. Eduardo's hips jerk and Mark glances up. Eduardo's staring down at him with desperate eyes, fingers tight in the sheets.

And Mark promised, so he sucks his fingers into mouth and licks his palm, getting his hand wet. He strokes Eduardo's cock a couple times slowly, watching Eduardo squirm, before taking the head into his mouth. He swirls his tongue a couple of times and then sucks hard.

Eduardo makes a quiet, bitten-off noise and Mark goes still. He looks up at Eduardo, who has his eyes squeezed shut and his lip in his mouth.

Mark starts sucking again, but Eduardo makes another noise. Carefully, Mark scrapes his teeth over Eduardo's dick as he pulls off.

Eduardo yelps, opening his eyes and glaring accusingly.

"Then stay the fuck quiet," Mark says.

He goes back down when Eduardo nods, but he doesn't go straight to the blowjob. He slides his fingers inside Eduardo instead, watching Eduardo take them in, easy and wet. He curls them, thrusting a couple of times, and licks up Eduardo's cock again when he hears the slick sounds.

Eduardo doesn't make any more noises, not even when Mark sucks as hard as he can and presses his fingers right into his prostate, curling them relentlessly. Eduardo has an arm pressed against his mouth as he bites his wrist, and he's so tense he's shaking all over, but he doesn't make another sound.

He comes in an eerie kind of silence. Mark can't tell how close he is, because he's been shuddering minutely for a while before he shudders just a little harder and comes, sudden and hot on Mark's tongue. Mark takes him deeper until his hips have relaxed back to the bed, then pulls off and swallows. Eduardo's grip on the sheets is still white-knuckled.

Mark crawls back up, stealing a pillow to lie on. He yawns, swallows again, and then reaches down to cup his cock. He's hard but not impatient; it can wait.

"I don't like being quiet," Eduardo says, and somehow his voice still manages to be hoarse. He drops his arm back to the bed, and Mark grabs it, thumbing the deep teeth imprints.

"I like it," Mark says.

"You like tormenting me," Eduardo says, groaning, but he rolls to face Mark.

Mark kisses him. "I also like hearing things besides your voice. I like how my fingers sound in you. Don't you like hearing me blow you? You can hear the sucking and slurping."

"You're disgusting," Eduardo says, laughing a little.

"Yeah," Mark says. "Don't you like it?"

Eduardo hesitates. "Okay, yeah," he says. "But I like making noise more."

"Fine," Mark sighs, but it's not as if he minds. He never really did.

---

Dustin has another video game tournament a few nights later, and Mark explains his long-standing attendance to such events. He expects Eduardo to nod and go home, but instead he steals Mark's phone so he can send a text as Mark asking if Eduardo can come.

Of course you can Wardo, Dustin sends back, and Eduardo looks chagrined at being found out.

They're late because Eduardo decides at the last minute that he needs to stop at his apartment to feed Cat. Mark has to admit that Eduardo's probably correct in thinking he won't make it home tonight, despite his tentative plan to drive home when he begins to feel tired.

When Mark opens the door – Eduardo makes noises out his failure to knock first, which Mark ignores – Dustin is already involved in the first round. He yells hello over his shoulder and Mark lets Eduardo go put the beer they brought in the fridge.

"So now you're bringing the boyfriend to all our bonding times," Dustin says to Mark as he claims his customary spot on the couch.

"I really don't want to intrude," Eduardo says. He stops in the doorway, looking concerned.

"Teasing, dude," Dustin says.

"Sit down," Mark says.

"Are you sure?" Eduardo says.

Dustin rolls his eyes and wins the round. He sets his controller on the coffee table, stretching as he nods.

"Okay," Eduardo says, still sounding a little unsure. "So what are you doing here?"

Dustin is scandalized upon realizing Eduardo has no working knowledge of modern video games. He drags Eduardo over to his bookshelf of Xbox, PS3 and Wii games and begins to explain all of them and their differences. When Eduardo says his favorite console is the Wii, Dustin looks like he might pass out.

"Mark," Dustin says. "Move. He's sitting next to me and I'm teaching him how to play real games."

Eduardo throws a pleading look at Mark. Mark smirks and moves.

Dustin narrates the next two rounds to Eduardo, explaining what he's doing and forcing Eduardo to look appreciative. After the second round, Dustin pronounced Eduardo ready and forces the controller on him.

"Let's go grab the beer," Dustin says, gesturing violently at Mark.

Eduardo's continued squawks of dismay are audible even in the kitchen. "He'll ruin your ranking," Mark says.

"The price I pay for getting you alone," Dustin says, shrugging.

Mark leans against the fridge and waits for the invasive questions to start.

"How are you two?" Dustin says.

"Fine," Mark says.

"Really fine, or only fine?" Dustin says.

Mark blinks. He hadn't been aware there was a difference.

Dustin sighs exasperatedly. "Why did he come?"

Mark narrows his eyes. "He wanted to?"

"Did he? He didn't come because, maybe he doesn't want…" Dustin trails off leadenly.

"He's not stalking me," Mark says flatly.

"I wasn't going to suggest stalking," Dustin says. "I would've said clinging. You know, that maybe you two are trying to spend a lot of time together to make up for the way you almost cheated on him."

"It was work," Mark says. "And no, he wanted to come. I don't know why, he seems to be confused and thinks we should like you."

"You love me," Dustin says confidently. He wraps an arm around Mark's shoulders and steers him out of the kitchen.

"You haven't lost yet?" Mark asks immediately at seeing Eduardo still playing.

"Yet," Eduardo says grimly. "Dustin, take it."

Dustin sits on the end of the couch, retrieving the controller happily. Mark sits on Eduardo's other side, leaning against him.

"Where's the beer?" Eduardo asks.

Hours and innumerable rounds later, Mark is warm and sleepy and drunk. He's been drinking everything Eduardo or Dustin hands him, as well as finishing off everything Eduardo sets down. Eduardo won't drink them once they're too warm, anyway. He's letting Eduardo and Dustin's discussion flow around him, and at some point his eyes have fallen closed.

He's never fallen asleep on me before," Eduardo says. His shoulder moves under Mark's head and Mark feels fingers brush lightly over his hair.

"Yeah," Dustin says noncommittally. There's a rustle and a short squeak from the couch springs as he stands. "I need caffeine, you want coffee?"

"Please," Eduardo says.

***
END PART FOUR
***

Mark zones out for a while, listening to Eduardo hum under his breath. It's a song that was playing on the radio as they drove over, one that Mark hates, but it's marginally improved when it's in Eduardo's voice. Dustin is clattering around in the kitchen, incapable of doing anything quietly, but Mark is used to his noises, too. He jerks a little as he abruptly wakes back up, but it coincides with Eduardo's movement to grab his coffee from Dustin and he doesn't notice.

"Can I ask you something?" Dustin says quietly.

"Sure," Eduardo says absently. Mark can hear him blowing on his coffee. Dustin's undoubtedly drinking his right now, in large gulps guaranteed to burn his mouth.

"What did you want to do?" Dustin says. "Before you got into porn?"

Eduardo, to Mark's surprise, doesn't tense. He sounds genuinely curious when he asks, "What do you mean?"

"Well," Dustin says. "Little kids don't exactly dream about doing porn, you know. And some teenagers may, but you don't really strike me as the type."

Eduardo laughs quietly. His voice sounds rueful as he says, "True. I didn't exactly envision this for myself."

"So what did you want to do?" Dustin prompts. "My guess would be teacher, maybe. Writer, if you were fanciful enough. Journalist or PR? You would've been great at HR. I can just imagine you commiserating and crying with the people it would've been your job to fire."

By the time Dustin's done, Eduardo is snorting. "Given this a lot of thought?"

"No," Dustin says. "Spur of the moment, really."

"Well," Eduardo says. "You're way off. I actually wanted to do something with finance. Banking or stocks, probably."

Judging by pregnant pause, Dustin's as surprised as Mark is.

"Don't look so shocked," Eduardo says. "I was getting my degree in Economics in college."

"That's not any less weird," Dustin says. "Done?" He makes a loud clatter, probably reclaiming Eduardo's mug.

While he's in the kitchen, Eduardo touches Mark's head again. Mark fights not to push up into it.

"Actually," Eduardo says as Dustin comes back into the room, "that's still what I want to do?"

"Oh?" Dustin says.

Eduardo says, "Yeah. There's – well, it's not likely, but there's this internship one of my neighbors told me about. It's in the finance department of a non-profit. Not well paid, but I still hoped—" he trails off. "But it's not likely. There's too many recent college grads who are just as willing to accept the low pay, and they all have degrees."

"But you applied," Dustin says.

"I submitted a résumé," Eduardo says.

"Have they called you back?"

"No," Eduardo says.

"But this was recent," Dustin presses. Mark wonders at what point he'll decide he needs to let it go.

"Yes," Eduardo says. "But—"

"So you don't know anything for sure yet," Dustin says.

Eduardo snorts. "I'm not too expectant."

"Still," Dustin says. "You'll fulfill your little banker dreams yet. Just wait."

Eduardo shakes his head. "I have to go to the bathroom," he says. He moves, jostling Mark, but his hands are careful as he lowers Mark against the arm of the couch and stands. Mark slits his eyes open to watch him go.

"That is cheating, you know," Dustin says.

Mark looks at him, yawning.

"Letting him think you're asleep like that," Dustin says.

Mark slides further into the couch and shuts his eyes again. Dustin didn't tell Eduardo anything Mark wouldn't have, if Eduardo had asked, and he's pretty sure Eduardo didn't tell Dustin anything he wouldn't want Mark to know. The only part that's unfair is letting Dustin do the work for him, but there's nothing new there.

Dustin sighs and leans forward, patting Mark's knee. Mark opens an eye reluctantly.

"Go to my room," Dustin says. "Come on. You can take my bed. Eduardo will pass out eventually too, and there's no way you'll both fit on the couch without falling off. It'll let me win my tournament in peace."

Mark's supposed to stay up all night with Dustin. That's the whole point of this exercise. He shakes his head.

Eduardo chooses that moment to reappear. "Hey," he says quietly, to Mark and Dustin both.

"Put Mark in my room so he'll sleep," Dustin says. "Then you can come keep me company until you have to pass out too."

"He really doesn't sleep enough," Eduardo says.

"Right here," Mark grumbles, but he stands when Eduardo tugs on his elbow.

"Night," Dustin says as he begins the next round. The familiar wailing siren announcing the beginning of the timer follows Mark and Eduardo into Dustin's room.

His bed is unmade and his room is a mess. Mark, who is familiar with Dustin's crap as he is his own, kicks some of the clothes out of the way and sits on the foot of the bed.

"Lay down," Eduardo says after casting a despairing glance around the room. "Sleep a little. We'll see you tomorrow morning."

"You'll be in here in half an hour," Mark predicts, slumping backward.

"You'll be asleep long before that," Eduardo says, which isn't that impressive a prediction when you consider that already can't keep his head up.

Mark tries to move toward the pillows, but he doesn't remember if he makes it there.

But Eduardo's gone when Mark wakes up late the next morning. Dustin's in bed with him instead. "Mrph," Mark says decidedly, and shoves Dustin out of bed.

Dustin yelps as he hits the floor, but Mark's not too concerned, as the piles of dirty laundry by the bed undoubtedly broke his fall. "Fuck, Mark!" he says.

"You're not Eduardo," Mark says darkly.

"Figure that out yourself, asshole?" Dustin says. He climbs back onto the bed, looking like a dead rat. He pries one of the pillows from beneath Mark and then says, "He left two or three hours ago. Which, not incidentally, was the same time I got to come to bed."

"Where'd he go?" Mark says. Eduardo had nothing to do today.

"Dunno," Dustin says "I promised him I'd give you a ride home since he couldn't bear to disturb you. He thought you looked adorable, though I don't know why, what with all the drooling."

Mark frowns.

"Stop worrying," Dustin says. "You can call him later. Now go back to sleep, baby."

His enormously heavy hand pushes Mark's head back to the pillow. Mark scowls and yawns and goes back to sleep.
***
---

Dustin had pointed out that Mark needed to find some way to bring it up. After all, he can't discuss Eduardo's future plans if Eduardo isn't aware he knows them. He's been considering the problem the last week or so, but right now he's more concerned with relieving his aching hands.

"Wardo?" Mark calls, shouldering open the door. He's laden down with grocery bags, because Eduardo had said it wasn't his job to stock Mark's kitchen but also refused to order in one more time. Since Mark didn't want Eduardo to go home, he'd capitulated and gone grocery shopping.

"Hi," Eduardo says, scrambling off the couch and hurriedly setting Mark's laptop aside.

Mark stops, staring. Eduardo's never touched one of Mark's computers, nor shown any inclination to. He has a laptop of his own, a basic thing for Internet and email, but he's still never brought it over with him.

"Sorry," Eduardo says sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. "I needed to check something. I meant to ask, but – I hope you don't mind."

Eduardo looks awfully jumpy for someone who just needed to check something. "It's fine," Mark says. He lets Eduardo take half the grocery bags from him.

That night, Eduardo sleeps next to Mark. Laptop on his knees, Mark wars with himself. Most people would probably consider it morally reprehensible to pry into what their significant other was doing on a computer; an invasion of trust, at least. on the other side of things, it is Mark's laptop. He probably has at least some right to know what's being done with his things.

After another long minute, Mark shuts the laptop and lies back down next to Eduardo.

***
END PART FOUR
***

His resolve doesn't last through the next morning.

Eduardo is feeding Cat in the kitchen. He's playing this dangerous game where he waits by the food bowl and pets her every time she darts in to take a bite. It's a testament to the progress he's already made that she ventures close enough to eat at all, but Mark still expects Eduardo will get scratched soon.

Mark sits at the kitchen table, settling his laptop in front of himself as obviously as possible. Eduardo doesn't even look up from the cat.

Opening the computer, Mark keeps an eye on Eduardo while it hums awake. To Mark's surprise, there are half a dozen windows still open. Eduardo clearly made no attempt to close anything when he heard Mark coming in. There's two pages open to the "About" section of two different financial groups. One of the two is probably connected to the non-profit Eduardo wants to intern for. A third page is the nonprofit. Mark reads Outreach for before he clicks to the next window, disinterested. That one and the one after are on Wikipedia, open to the information pages on the two financial groups from the first two windows. The sixth is just on the Google homepage.

Mark clicks into the history. Besides banks, finance pages, and non-profit statistics, there's dozens of sites about universities – UCLA, community colleges, even Stanford. To Mark's surprise, there's even history from harvard.edu. When he clicks on it, he's taken to a timeout page and forwarded to the main student portal.

He jerks his head up to stare at Eduardo. Eduardo is already looking back, leaning on the counter and watching Mark patiently.

Mark swallows. "I need to teach you how to keep your computer activities private."

"Like you do yours?" Eduardo replies. "I've seen that thing. It's like a brand new computer every time you turn it on."

"I'm careful," Mark says.

"I'm not doing anything illegal," Eduardo says. "I don't need to be."

"Unless you want everyone who follows you onto a computer to know what you were doing, you do," Mark says.

"It's not everyone, it's just you," Eduardo says.

Mark frowns, looking back down at the computer screen. "You don't mind me seeing all this?"

"I thought you might want to know," Eduardo says. "If Dustin hasn't already told you some of it I'd be surprised."

"He told me about the internship," Mark allows. He clicks back through the pages slowly, closing them as he goes. He looks back up and Eduardo is smiling at him. "You went to Harvard," Mark says.

Eduardo blinks. "What?"

"Harvard was in the history," Mark says.

"I've been considering going back to school," Eduardo says. "I had to look up how to get my transcripts from them."

"Why didn't I know you went to Harvard?" Mark demands.

Snorting, Eduardo says, "Probably because you never asked."

"No," Mark says. "I went to Harvard, too."

Eduardo finally seems to understand what he means. "Oh. Well, that's not surprising. I would've been, what, two or three years ahead of you?"

Mark narrows his eyes. "How old are you?"

"Two years older than you," Eduardo says.

"How do you know how hold I am?" Mark demands. He's sure he never told Eduardo.

"I've seen your driver's license," Eduardo says. "I looked in your wallet one of the many times I've had to help you find it."

Mark slumps back into his chair.

Eduardo comes around to him. "Don't get upset. I'm sure there are many things besides my age and where I went to college that you don't know about me yet."

"Yes," Mark says. "If I were upset, that would absolutely make me feel better."

Eduardo pats his shoulder. Cat jumps onto the table and starts to lick her nonexistent balls.

It's as good as being granted permission. There are probably many things he doesn't know about Eduardo, that's true, but now he's been made aware of the problem and he has the resources to fix it.

Mark starts to check into Eduardo's background. Just the basics at first, the little things that Mark suspects he should already know, like Eduardo's birthday and where he grew up and how many people he has in his family – one brother and one sister, the two parents still married, and all other relatives still in Brazil, where it turns out Eduardo is from.

Eduardo is actually much more interesting than he tries to let on. There's some things Mark can't find out without asking, like Eduardo's favorite color, favorite animal – though Mark is going to guess it's fucking cats – or whether he had pets when he was young. Mark tries to slip these into conversation as subtly as possible, and it seems to go well. Occasionally Eduardo will give him a slightly startled look, but he always answers and never seems to mind.

One evening, Mark is at Eduardo's apartment – Eduardo says it's not fair to always stay at Mark's, and Mark has to admit that's true, even if his apartment is clearly superior in its lack of troublesome, nosy neighbors – and Eduardo is trying to dig up the deck of cards he swears he has somewhere. Mark had asked about his high school activities, which had included the local community poker league, and Eduardo had sworn he was going to teach Mark to play the various types of poker, because passing knowledge of one isn't enough.

"Can I ask you a question?" Mark says. He's never asked first before, but he wants to give Eduardo some sort of warning before he asks questions he thinks will upset him.

"Here they are," Eduardo says triumphantly. "Do you want to play at the table or on the bed?"

"Bed," Mark says. "Wardo."

"Yes, of course you can ask me a question," Eduardo says.

Mark sits at the head of the bed and Eduardo sits at the foot. He opens one of the decks and starts shuffling them neatly.

"When was the last time you saw your family?" Mark says. "You said you talk to them sometimes, but you didn't even talk to them for your sister's birthday."

Eduardo fumbles, dropping several of the cards onto the bed. "What?" he says.

Mark reaches forward and picks the cards up, putting them back into a pile and nudging them against Eduardo's fingers. "Your sister's birthday, a few days ago. You spent the whole time with me and you were never on the phone. You don't even talk to them very often, so I was wondering when the last time you saw them was. Have you seen them since you fought with them five years ago?"

"Mark," Eduardo says. "How do you know it was my sister's birthday?"

Mark blinks.

"How do you know I have a sister?" Eduardo says. He sets the cards on the bed. "You've never asked me whether I have any siblings."

"You told me there were a lot of things I didn't know about you," Mark says defensively.

Eduardo stares at him. Mark can't understand his expression, and he taps his fingers on his knees, waiting.

"You've been looking me up for the past two weeks," Eduardo says.

"It doesn't take two weeks to research you," Mark mutters. He looks down at the neat pile of cards. It's slowly sliding apart on the slight incline of the bed, and it might topple soon.

Eduardo opens his mouth. After a moment, he shuts it again. "You couldn't just ask?" he says.

"I have been," Mark says.

"You've also been prying," Eduardo says quietly.

Mark shrugs.

Eduardo sighs. He sets the cards on the dresser, crawling across the bed to Mark. "It's okay," he says. "I'm not angry."

He's lying. Mark can tell that much. He eyes Eduardo suspiciously and doesn't relax.

"Honestly," Eduardo says. "I'm a little frustrated, though. You still don't seem to understand this."

"Understand what?" Mark says stiffly. "I'm learning about you."

"The point isn't just to figure me out," Eduardo says. "I mean, it is, but you're not supposed to just gather facts. The point is you're supposed to want to know these things, and you're supposed to ask me, and then we get to know each other. I learn about you while you're asking questions the same way you learn about me when I answer them."

"You already know about me," Mark says.

"I really don't," Eduardo says. "Before you started cheating I knew more about you than you about me, sure, but that's because I already asked you questions. Now, I have no idea what you know. You probably dug up my whole life story."

"Not anything helpful," Mark says grudgingly. "I can't find things like what you thought of the nanny you had when you were twelve, only that you had her. I don't know whether you like your sister, only that she's younger than you."

"Yeah," Eduardo says. He leans forward slowly, and Mark doesn't move away this time as he brushes his lips across the corner of Mark's mouth. "That's why you talk to me directly."

"I'm not good at asking questions," Mark says stiffly.

Eduardo leans back and looks at him thoughtfully. "I've got an idea."

Since meeting Dustin, Mark's learned not to trust that statement. "What?" he asks warily.

"Well, I was going to teach you to play poker anyway," Eduardo says. "Let's play for questions."

"Like strip poker," Mark says.

"Sure," Eduardo says.

"But with talking instead of sex," Mark says.

"We have enough sex," Eduardo says, ignoring his tone entirely. "Now pass me the cards and let me deal."

---

When Mark wakes up in the morning, he's got cards stuck in uncomfortable places. He decides he's in favor of poker and even of questions – he never would've learned about the hazelnuts incident from the internet – but next time they'll have to make sure they get the cards off the bed before they have sex. At least the edges are too soft and worn to give paper cuts.

He stumbles out of bed, fishing his jeans off the floor and climbing into them. He can hear murmuring outside the door, but it's too quiet to hear whether it's the TV or if Eduardo is talking to someone. He should be dressed just in case it's Eduardo and one of the apartment brats, so he snags one of Eduardo's shirts from the top of his laundry basket – "dirty," in Eduardo's apartment, means he wore them about once – and hurriedly pulls it on. Then he puts one hand on the doorframe and the other on the knob, pulling the door open quietly.

He sees only Eduardo, curled on one side of the couch with an empty plate beside him, talking on Mark's phone.

Mark frowns and checks to see Eduardo's phone is still on top of the dresser where he always leaves it. There's no reason for him to be using Mark's phone – even if he were talking to Dustin, he has his number.

Opening the door, Mark walks into the living room. Eduardo scrambles to look at him, panicked. Mark leans his elbows on the back of the couch and stares at him. "What are you doing?"

"Uh," Eduardo says. "Karen, I have to go."

He hurried hangs up the phone but keeps it clutched tightly in his palm, looking terrified.

"Karen?" Mark says. "You were talking to my mother?"

Terror switches slowly to guilt. "It's, well," Eduardo says. "She kept calling one morning, and I tried waking you up but you weren't having it. You said to ignore it because that was what you always did, and I felt awful so I answered it."

Mark frowns. He vaguely remembers that conversation. It took place over a month ago. "And now you steal my phone on a regular basis and talk to her."

"I don't steal it," Eduardo protests. "But essentially, yes."

Mark had been wondering, a little, why she hadn't bothered him in a while. He'd attributed it to a run of good luck. Instead, this. "You've been talking to my mother," he says again.

"I didn't start it!" Eduardo says. "I answered just to tell her you were sleeping, and she asked me who I was, and I didn't think to lie."

"And she refused to let you off the line after that," Mark says. He knows Eduardo wouldn't have tried too hard.

"Yeah," Eduardo says. "She's very nice."

"Yes," Mark says. Something still seems suspicious.

Eduardo shifts on the couch, looking squirrelly, and Mark reaches up to scratch at what feels like a card imprint on his cheek. Then it connects.

"You said looking you up was cheating," he says accusingly. "You've been talking to my mother."

"You've said that," Eduardo says, smiling.

"Don't laugh, you fucking hypocrite," Mark says, glaring. He holds the expression until Eduardo looks appropriately contrite.

"It's not quite the same," Eduardo says. "But you're right. I'm sorry I didn't tell you I've been talking to her."

Mark suspects that if anything really bad were going to come of this, he'd have heard of it by now. "I don't care that you are," he says. "It means she leaves me alone."

Eduardo is smiling softly at him again, and this time he doesn't stop when Mark scowls. "Would this be a good time to mention that I want to meet her soon?"

"Go fuck yourself," Mark says succinctly, and goes to forage for PopTarts. Eduardo buys them and then pretends he doesn't see Mark eat them.

Eduardo laughs and picks Mark's phone back up. Mark pretends he doesn't see the texting, because it seems like a fair exchange for the PopTarts.

---

Mark isn't completely sure, but he thinks Eduardo has been doing less porn. He's not going to ask – if Eduardo is just turning down a lot of shitty roles or if he's actually close to realizing his goal of working in an office somewhere or going back to school, Mark doesn't care as long as he still sees him every night.

Mark is sure he himself has been doing less. It decrease hasn't been deliberate, but it's hard to be enthusiastic about something that has become so thoroughly boring. He used to like the orgasms and the relatively easy money, but now he doesn't need the money as desperately – even Dustin says he lives like a homeless person, but it means he's saved up a lot of cash – and the orgasms are better with Eduardo.

He's begun to distantly consider what he would do if he quit. He doesn't have any set goals like Eduardo does, and he can't really get paid for the things he's good at. Well, he could, but Mark doesn't think Eduardo would be happy if he gave up the legal porn industry for something illegal. He's not seriously considering anything yet, but he knows Eduardo won't be content to do porn for much longer.

He'd never considered whether the studio kept track of how many videos each of the actors did, but his offers have increased. He might not have noticed, but Grams actually called him one day, telling him to pick a fucking script and get his ass into work because he was making the studio antsy. Then he said Mark should tell his boyfriend to do the same, that the whole absentee thing was one of the concerns the studio usually had about actors dating each other – or dating at all, Mark suspects – and Mark told Grams to go fuck himself before hanging up, probably exactly as Grams expected.

But then, at least, Mark knows what the fuss is about: the studio doesn't want to lose Eduardo. He wonders how much Eduardo has been getting bothered.

He asks Eduardo that night. Eduardo just smiles and says not to worry about it. He maintains that tune for longer than Mark would've predicted.

Unfortunately, Eduardo chooses to walk into Mark's apartment at the precise moment Sean has chosen to make a supreme ass of himself.

"Don't be stubborn, dude, come on," Sean is saying. "They'd kill for another vid of you two right now, I don't know why you're not cashing in on it."

The front door opens. Mark hears it and says, "Sean—"

Sean says, "So just get your asses to the studio, fuck him on film again, problem solved."

"If there were a problem," Eduardo says, and Mark winces as he comes into view around the doorway, "I doubt that would solve it."

"Hey, look who's home," Sean says. "Do you have a key now?"

"He leaves the door unlocked when he knows I'm coming over," Eduardo says.

Now Mark regrets that a little. It would've been nice for Eduardo and Sean to meet under controlled conditions, without one barging in on the other.

"You've never extended that courtesy to me," Sean say to Mark, mildly affronted.

"You're not his boyfriend," Eduardo says sharply.

"And have no desire to be, chill," Sean says.

Eduardo shuts the front door on a slam and leans down to let Cat out of her carrier. She darts out, freezing when she sees Sean. He clicks his tongue at her; she hisses and runs into Mark's bedroom.

"Nice pet," Sean says.

"Fuck off," Eduardo says.

Sean raises his eyebrows. "Well," he says, "I was just saying to Mark here, if you two get it over with and fuck, the studio will stop harassing you."

"We haven't been getting harassed," Eduardo says.

"I know you have," Sean says.

Eduardo looks angry and stays quiet.

"I'm not going to do something because a group of sleazy old men tell me to," Mark says, which is all he was going to say before Eduardo came in and ruined everything.

Snorting, Sean shakes his head. "Let me know how that goes."

"It will be fine," Eduardo says flatly. "Thank you for your concern. Now, speaking of going—" He leans over and opens the door.

Sean rolls his eyes and stands. He takes a couple steps toward the door, still facing Mark. "I'd really get him to work on that jealousy thing if I were you," he says. "It's a really inconvenient trait."

Mark says nothing. Sean turns, gives Eduardo a friendly slap on the shoulder, and pulls the door shut behind himself.

Eduardo looks mutely furious. "Did he come over just to play lackey for the studio?" he asks disgustedly.

"He's come over a lot since he got back," Mark says, frowning. "He just honestly thinks we should take advantage of our other videos' popularity."

"You've been seeing him without telling me?" Eduardo says incredulously.

"Seeing?" Mark repeats, staring at Eduardo. "No."

Eduardo drops his eyes. "But he's come over."

"I like hanging out with him," Mark says. "I kept him away from you because you don't like him."

Eduardo sighs. "You're determined to remain friends with him?"

"Yes," Mark says levelly. "I promise who I associate with won't kill you."

Eduardo rolls his eyes, relaxing back against the wall. "He just reflects so badly on you," he says plaintively.

"So does Dustin," Mark says. "I've gotten used to it."

"For the last time, Dustin does not," Eduardo says. The corners of his mouth are twitching up.

Mark stands up and walks over to him since he finally looks welcoming. His hands fall to Mark's hips and Mark leans up to kiss him. "I promise I won't let Sean impugn your virtue if you two ever do have to be near each other," Mark says.

Eduardo laughs and kisses Mark again. Mark touches his hair and doesn't understand why Eduardo thinks he's joking.

---

Mark gets home from filming in a terrible mood. He was leaving and, besides having to ignore the occasional whisper, which has become common since the entire studio found out about he and Eduardo – Mark thinks there is something wrong with a bunch of people who film porn but can still find nothing better to talk about – he had to avoid Grams, who looked as irritated to be chasing Mark down as Mark was irritated to be chased. This whole situation seems to be getting out of hand, and Mark knows he isn't being oversensitive.

His mood is not improved upon seeing Dustin in his kitchen with Eduardo. This is actually unusual; Dustin, while annoying, does have a talent for cheering Mark up. Mark has never been worse off for seeing Dustin. Today, however, the pinched smile Dustin throws at Mark is not cheerful.

All he says though, is, "Eduardo's never made homemade pizza."

"Not from scratch," Eduardo says defensively. His smile, at least, is genuine.

"Most people haven't," Mark says. He kicks off his shoes and throws his keys at the coffee table before joining them at the counter.

"Spread the toppings evenly," Dustin says. There's the burnt remains of one pizza already sitting next to them on the counter.

"Yes," Eduardo says, rolling his eyes.

"Hey," Dustin says. "Mark, I couldn't find that game I was looking for."

It's not the most subtle way of getting Mark alone, but Eduardo continues sprinkling cheese complacently while Dustin drags Mark off, so Mark guesses it worked.

"What?" Mark says warily as Dustin shuts his bedroom door behind them.

"I got told today," Dustin says, "in a bullshit pretense at an offhanded manner, that it would be appreciated if I felt like putting in a word with my friend about he and his boyfriend filming another movie for the studio."

Mark blinks.

"Mark," Dustin says after a moment. "This is one of the times I need you to talk."

"Why does it matter to them?" Mark asks.

"I don't think you understand just how much money your two other shoots have made," Dustin says.

"Hm," Mark says. If they actually did try to get Dustin to convince them, that means Sean probably was sent at the studio's bidding – at least partly.

He needs to make sure Eduardo never discovers that.

"Are you going to tell me we should do it?" Mark says.

"Ha," Dustin says. "Never. Underhanded assholes can go fuck themselves."

Mark nods. "Okay."

"Just—" Dustin hesitates. "Is Eduardo doing anything else? Has he gotten that internship he wanted?"

"No," Mark says.

"I thought maybe they had a reason to be so desperate," Dustin says. "Besides money, I mean."

Mark says, "I don't know."

"Yeah, whatever," Dustin says, shaking his head. "I just wanted to warn you."

Shrugging, Mark nods.

They rejoin Eduardo in the kitchen. He's done with the cheese and moved on to other toppings.

"Well, I should go," Dustin says.

"We're not done with the pizza," Eduardo says.

Dustin scoops his keys off the kitchen counter and shoves his toes into his shoes. "That's alright, you can figure it out from here. I've got plans, but I'll see you both soon."

"Bye," Eduardo says. Mark nods at Dustin before he shuts the door.

"So," Eduardo says, still carefully placing pepperoni slices. He slots a look at Mark from the corner of his eye. "Did you two work out whatever was bothering him?"

"Yeah," Mark says, stealing a pinch of mozzarella.

---

"Guess what happened today," Eduardo announces, slamming the door behind himself as he comes in.

"What?" Mark asks. Eduardo stands over the couch, and Mark heaves a sigh and sits upright, putting his laptop on his knees and making room for Eduardo.

"It doesn't matter," he says, sitting heavily.

"Yes, it does," Mark says.

"Yes," Eduardo says. "It does."

"So?" Mark prompts, interested despite himself.

"They told me they want to film us having sex," Eduardo says.

Mark waits, but Eduardo just stares at him expectantly.

"We do porn," Mark says. "This is something you must've heard before."

"No," Eduardo says impatiently. "Us."

Mark keeps his expression blank. Eduardo has been the one insisting there's no problem. "Okay," he says.

"Mark," Eduardo says. "I know you've gotten it, too. Sean and Dustin."

Mark shrugs noncommittally. "So why does it matter that they asked you?"

"They've never directly approached me before," Eduardo says. "But that's not actually the problem."

Raising an eyebrow, Mark waits.

"They've canceled my other three shoots this month to 'clear my schedule' for me," Eduardo says.

"Yeah," Mark says. "Mine, too." He'd gotten a call from Dustin about it; one of the assistants had warned him. Mark might've never noticed.

Eduardo sounds outraged. "You don't seem upset by this!"

Mark shrugs. "More free time."

"No job!" Eduardo says. "They're trying to financially blackmail us."

"Do you think that's illegal?" Mark asks.

"Mark," Eduardo says slowly, enunciating clearly, "this is getting out of hand."

Mark, reluctantly, has to agree. "It's going to be humiliating admitting to Dustin that we gave in."

"Yeah, it's—what?" Eduardo says.

Mark shrugs. "They'll probably leave us alone after we do one more. Maybe a couple. The appeal can't be that great."

Eduardo gapes at him. "You want to do it?"

Mark says, "It'll work, won't it?"

"No," Eduardo says flatly. "Besides, I still think you're missing the point here."

"The point," Mark says. "There's a point?"

"We're not giving into sleazy assholes, remember?" Eduardo says.

"They're annoying sleazy assholes," Mark says. "And persistent."

"So clearly we should submit to their whims."

Mark would never put it that way. Mark would never put anything that way. He rolls his eyes. "They're persistent, because for some reason they think they need one more video of us."

Eduardo narrows his eyes. "They want a realistic video of us because we're a good couple and apparently real porn is selling well right now."

"Yeah," Mark says, shrugging. "I don't care enough to put up with more of their intrusiveness. I'd rather be left alone."

"You don't care?" Eduardo says, and Mark narrows his eyes. That is not a good tone. That is one of the worst tones.

"We'd get paid a lot for having normal, boring sex all in one take," Mark says. "I don't see how it's a bad thing." Besides, of course, the part where he'd have to give the assholes what they want, but he'll survive that.

"Our sex life is not bo—never mind," Eduardo says. "You didn't see how an invasion of our privacy was a bad thing?"

"It's just—" Mark starts.

"It's not just porn!" Eduardo says. "It's our relationship!"

"I was going to say it's just one video," Mark mutters.

"It's our relationship!" Eduardo repeats. "They—you would let everyone see that?"

"To get them to leave us alone, yes," Mark says.

Eduardo seems to deflate. "I never thought they'd be this insistent."

"I'm slightly surprised, too," Mark says. "So was Dustin. Even Sean."

"Well, then we know the situation's gotten desperate," Eduardo says, a little dry.

"Do you have a better solution?" Mark says. "Any answer besides getting it over with?"

"Well," Eduardo hesitates. He's rubbing one of his hands against his leg, a nervous gesture.

Mark waits.

"I was going to suggest…" Eduardo trails off again, looking uncertain.

"I guess one of us could always try to find a different studio," Mark says. "Work at different ones."

"No," Eduardo says. "That is absolutely not a solution."

"They're not going to let us get back to our normal schedules until we do this," Mark says.

Eduardo stares down at the floor. His hand rubs harder against his thigh. "No," he says finally, looking bitter. "I guess they won't."

After another few silent moments, Mark says, "Come on. It's simple."

"Dating for months," Eduardo says. "And we're just going back to filming porn?"

Mark doesn't see the connection. He waves a hand. "Best case, we get them to let us go back to our normal schedules. If we do this, we'll make more money and—"

"Mark—" Eduardo starts again, sounding tired.

Mark talks over him, "And if I do film with you, at least you won't have to know I'm fucking someone else."

Eduardo freezes. Mark knows it was a cheap shot, but he doesn't care; it'll work.

"I want a video of me fucking you," Mark says, because it's true. "It seems fair since we've already recorded us the other way around."

Eduardo licks his lips. "What?" he says. "No. That's a terrible reason. No."

He won't listen to anything else Mark says.

Eventually, he tells Mark he needs time to think about it. Mark shrugs and watches him leave, and promptly doesn't see him for a week.

---

Sean really likes Eduardo; way too much for all the humiliation he thinks he's been dealt at Eduardo's hands, in Mark's opinion.

"Don't get me wrong," Sean says. "He's a bitch. But so are you, so I figure you're good for each other."

Mark has never had the word bitch applied to him before. He's almost sidetracked by the novelty. "And that makes you like him?"

"Anything that makes you happy," Sean says, apparently sincere. He ruins the impression by kicking his feet into Mark's lap.

Mark almost considers letting them stay. He has missed Sean. It won't do to let their relationship resume on bad habits, though, so he shoves them off and says, "Every time he gets angry with me, he ignores me."

"It's called the silent treatment," Sean says.

"It's fucking childish," Mark says.

"Got it in one," Sean says cheerfully. "Now stop whining. Turn on the game."

Mark has no idea what game Sean means. He hands him the remote and stands up to get beer. If Eduardo were here, Mark wouldn't have to.

"It doesn't really matter," he says. "He hates you, so he wouldn't be here tonight anyway."

"There you go," Sean says. "Looking on the bright side."

Mark doesn't ever want Eduardo to stop hating Sean. Sean deserves to have someone loathe him. Everyone does, in Mark's opinion: it gives you perspective.

Speaking of.

"I found that video where he dumped you in public," Mark says.

Sean sits up so fast his feet nearly crack Mark's coffee table. "What?" he says wildly.

"Well, Dustin found it," Mark says.

"I'll make him wish he was dead," Sean says seriously.

"He's more frightened of me than he is of you," Mark says. "I just thought you should know we were really impressed with the way you handled it."

"Fuck you," Sean says.

"No," Mark says. "Honestly. Dustin clapped when you pulled the pillow over your crotch." He'd also been nearly crying by that point, but Mark decides to keep that unmentioned for the time being, in case further humiliation is ever needed.

"I'd like to see how you react when he slaps you with a rolled up magazine," Sean mutters.

"He never would," Mark says with certainty. "And he'd absolutely never call me a pedophile and a rapist before smiling at the camera crew and requesting a copy of the footage as an insurance policy against further bad behavior."

"You're an asshole," Sean says darkly.

"He disciplined you like a pet dog," Mark says.

"Seriously, dude, what the fuck," Sean complains. "It's like you have no respect for my feelings."

"You have no feelings," Mark says. "I thought you might need a reminder of why you don't want to get on either of our bad sides."

"Jesus," Sean mutters, but he relaxes enough to kick his feet back up on the table. Mark lets him have the rest of his beer, hoping his face will regain a little color.

"You played the studio's lackey," Mark says. "I know they asked you to talk to me."

"It was in your best interest. I spoke out of concern," Sean says. He seems to be horrifyingly sincere. "It really is the best course of action. As you decided yourself just a while ago."

"I don't like people doing things in my best interest," Mark says. "And it'd be in your best interest to consider how long it would take you to live that tape down."

"Noted," Sean says. "Now turn off the intimidation and let me watch the fucking game. You can go back to your moping."

---

"I love you," Dustin says on Friday, "but I'm about to hit my patience quota. You don't want to know what comes after my patience, Mark."

"I don't see how listening to me explain why Eduardo isn't at my apartment is testing your patience," Mark says. "You asked."

"Yes," Dustin says. "Ten minutes ago. Before you launched into a list of all his childish faults, a summary of Sean's thoughts on this subject, and a rumination about what you could possibly do next."

"I have not said all that," Mark says uncomfortably.

"Bordering fifteen minutes, even," Dustin says, smiling brightly and waving his phone around as proof of time.

"You're the one who likes to gossip," Mark says.

"I'm the one who admits it, you mean," Dustin mutters lowly. "Look, this isn't even gossip. This is you going, 'Wah, Dustin, we're fighting again!' and waiting for me to say, 'Well, Mark, apologize again!'"

"Shut up," Mark says.

"Just like every other time," Dustin says. "So call or text him to say you're sorry – protip, in case you've forgotten: call, not text, texting was not actually a valid option – and stop whining."

"For the last fucking time," Mark says. "I'm not whining."

"And for the last fucking time," Dustin says. "Fucking apologize and shut up."

"Sorry," Mark says nastily, and stares resolutely at the television.

"Not to me," Dustin says, sounding fond, and he pulls Mark over to press a smacking kiss to his temple.

"Whatever," Mark says.

A while later, Dustin says, "Hey."

"Hm?" Mark says.

"What are you going to do when he quits porn?"

"I don't know," Mark says.

"Are you going to quit?" Dustin demands more intently. "What are you going to do? Won't he get jealous if you keep doing porn?"

"I don't know," Mark repeats, more emphatically.

Dustin says, "You should probably talk to him about that."

"He makes talking to him really difficult," Mark points out, because Dustin seems to keep forgetting that minor detail.

"You're both so lame," Dustin says, but he's nice to Mark the rest of the evening.

When Mark's phone rings the next morning, he dives for it even though it's woken him.

"'Lo?" he manages to slur out. He licks his teeth and swallows when he's done, grimacing.

There's a long pause of silence, and then, "Honey?"

"Mom," Mark says flatly.

"I haven't talked to you in a while," she says, bemused.

"Yes," Mark says. "You've been busy talking to my boyfriend."

"Which is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself," she does say herself, "since I wasn't even informed you had one."

"It is not my job to keep you informed of every new development in my life as it happens," Mark complains.

"You'd had one for months," she says, sounding thoroughly unsympathetic. "And actually, you're my son, so yes, it is."

"Fine, whatever," Mark snaps.

"Why are you answering your phone at eight in the morning?" she asks suspiciously. "You answered awfully quickly, too."

Mark bites back a groan.

"Where's Eduardo?" she says. "You thought it would be him calling, didn't you?"

"How are you?" Mark says desperately.

"If he were just away, he's nice enough he wouldn't call at eight in the morning," she says. "Especially since he would want to talk to you, and knows early morning is not the best time to do that."

"How's Dad?" Mark tries again.

"You pissed him off, didn't you?" she says. "Mark. Don't mess it up with him. Apologize first so you can talk about it."

"This is fucking ridiculous," Mark tells the world at large.

"You know I'm right," his mom says.

"Fucking ridiculous," Mark repeats, and hangs up.

---

He's supposed to work again Monday, when he has to go in to reshoot a scene (originally shot before the studio's blacklisting of them) that was, to use Grams's word, "lackluster." So Mark reports in, showering half-heartedly before he leaves his apartment and dragging pants on. He doesn't bother with underwear, since he'll be taking the jeans off as soon as he gets on set anyway.

But then he can't get it up. Since he hasn't forgotten the indignity of when this happened to him before – really, he knows it happens to everyone eventually, especially when your costar is some little twit just out of his pimples who wiggles around like an overexcited puppy – and he was expecting it a little, he's not surprised.

Mark refuses to use fluffers normally, and he's even less forgiving today, so when ten minutes have gone by and nothing's happened, Grams is forced to call it a day.

Eduardo's waiting for him at his apartment when he gets back.

"You're done thinking about it?" Mark says. He looks around but doesn't see Cat. That's not promising; Eduardo always brings her when he's planning on staying.

"For future reference," Eduardo says. "There's a difference between giving someone time and going completely out of touch with them for a week."

"You told me to leave you alone," Mark says. "I would've answered if you'd texted me."

Eduardo sighs. "Look, the problem isn't that they want to film us again. I almost expected it, and I'm not really surprised. I just don't like how accepting you are of doing it."

"I'm supposed to rebel against doing my job?" Mark says.

"You're supposed to be a little uncomfortable with the idea. If not, you're saying that letting people film us having sex, so that strangers can jack off to us as if our private life is up for exhibition, is okay," Eduardo says. "But I don't think it is. Our relationship isn't just porn. But you were only pissed off by how they tried to make us, not what they wanted us to do."

"It isn't anything different from what we do every day," Mark says, and when Eduardo looks sharply annoyed, he adds, "I mean we have sex every day, so it's not like it's any extra work."

"The problem isn't whether it's going to be more work!" Eduardo says.

"I'm sorry I wasn't aware of that," Mark snaps back.

Eduardo sighs out, leaning back against the wall. "You're not aware of a lot of things."

"Then tell me," Mark says sharply.

Eduardo watches him for a long moment. Mark shoves his hands in his jean pockets and doesn't move.

"Come sit down," Eduardo says. "I'll make coffee."

Mark settles into the kitchen chair and takes the mug Eduardo hands him without protest. It's something to do with his hands, at least, and from the way Eduardo slides his own cup back and forth between his palms, Mark suspects Eduardo's using it for the same purpose.

"I didn't think it would matter," Mark says, since Eduardo doesn't seem inclined to begin speaking. "We just let them film us once more, we get paid, end of story."

"They'd see us," Eduardo says. "Our real sex life."

Mark shrugs. "I wouldn't care."

"None of this ever bothers you as much as it does me," Eduardo says.

"It doesn't," Mark agrees.

"Why not?" Eduardo asks. "You don't even care when I fuck other people."

"No," Mark says. "I know you don't like anyone you sleep with as much as you like me."

"I know you don't like the other people you sleep with," Eduardo says. "That doesn't mean I want to see it. But you watch the porn I've done. Why doesn't it bother you to see me sleeping with other people?"

"It's different." Mark shrugs. Eduardo doesn't look appeased, frowning unhappily down at his coffee, so Mark tries to explain. "You're different. You're acting with them, and I don't care who you are or what you do when you're acting. And you don't act when you're with me."

"But if they filmed us together, then wouldn't that mean I wouldn't be acting?" Eduardo says.

"You'd still be with me," Mark says. "It doesn't matter what you're like if I'm the one fucking you."

"And you don't care that other people would see it?" Eduardo asks. He looks straight at Mark, and his eyes look bruised. He looks as if he's been as unhappy as Mark has been.

Mark frowns. That is the less desirable part of this whole thing, but— "They'll see you, yeah, but they'll see you with me," Mark says, and tries to explain. "You're mine. Even when other people see that video, you're with me and you're mine."

Eduardo nods slowly. "That makes sense."

"But?" Mark says warily.

Eduardo smiles, and it's the unhappiest expression Mark's ever seen. "You don't act, Mark."

Mark frowns. "What?"

"When you have sex, you have sex," Eduardo says. "You're good at porn because you act, for the most part, as if you're just having sex."

Mark's tongue feels clumsy. "I'm terrible at acting. I just—"

"Do what feels natural," Eduardo says. He's still smiling, awful and sad. "I know. It's why I liked you so much to begin with. You feel real. But that means I don't have the luxury of knowing you're different when you're with me. You're only different in that you like it more – if you were with someone you liked, you'd act like you do with me."

This can't be a problem brought up by the recent video proposal. This was a problem that had to go much, much further back. "That's why you still dislike Sean," Mark says.

"You really like him," Eduardo says. "If you'd filmed together, I wouldn't have been able to keep myself from watching, and I didn't want to watch you fuck him the way you do me."

"I don't like him as much as you. I don't like anyone as much as you," Mark says numbly.

"No," Eduardo agrees. He's staring determinedly into his coffee cup. "But that doesn't change the fact that it's never fake for you. Sex is just porn, because the two are the same thing for you."

Mark doesn't know if that's true. He's never bothered to think about it. He never thought it mattered. There was Eduardo, who he dated, and there were the guys he fucked. Yes, he fucked Eduardo too, but he'd never bothered to categorize any differences in the way he had sex. He's never thought at all about the way he has sex.

He's regretting that now, as Eduardo breathes deep and rubs a hand over his face and closes his eyes, looking exhausted.

"I'm sorry," Eduardo says. "I should've told you all of this earlier. It's been building for a while, and I know you've never thought about it, but I can't get over it. I knew it would be a problem from the beginning – I told you, 'I don't date guys in porn.' But you didn't understand why."

Mark opens his mouth but can't find anything to say. He thought he had understood. He shuts his mouth again.

"It's not your fault," Eduardo says quietly.

"Are you—" Mark says. "Is this a long-winded way of breaking up with me?"

Eduardo looks startled. "No! Of course not."

Mark says, "It sounded like it."

"I just wanted to explain—" Eduardo says.

"Why you've been so weird about this," Mark says. "And okay. I understand."

"That's not really what I mean," Eduardo says, but he won't elaborate, and when Mark asks what he wants to do, he just gives permission and drinks another cup of coffee.

---

They show up at the studio at 10 a.m. two days later.

Eduardo stops at Mark's apartment to pick him up. He'd refused to stay over the night before, and Mark hadn't known he was coming. He'd planned on driving himself, but he opens the door when Eduardo knocks and follows him out wordlessly. The car ride over is silent, punctuated occasionally by the nervous taps of Eduardo's fingers on the steering wheel.

On set, there's a few murmurs as they walk in and, Mark is absolutely sure, more people in the room than are necessary to make the movie. They don't have to change, just take their shoes off and wait at the edge of the set; it's not quite the same as the one they used for their supposed-to-be cheating scene, but it's close. The bedspread is different at least.

There's still an awful lot of people looking at them. Mark thinks the whispering is only going to get worse after this.

"Hey, guys," Grams says. Mark is entirely unsurprised they chose him to direct again. "You ready?"

Mark shrugs. Eduardo, surprisingly, doesn't respond at all, staring at the wall over Grams's shoulder.

"Alright, you noticed we didn't give you scripts," Grams says, pausing as if waiting for confirmation. When Mark scowls at him and Eduardo doesn't so much as look his way, he clears his throat and continues, "We do want this shoot to look as candid as possible. Besides Zuckerberg fucking you, Eduardo, you two can go wild. Anything you want."

Mark fights not to hunch his shoulders. Eduardo finally glances at Grams, a quick flicker Mark can't help but note, and then nods once.

"Let's get going," Grams says, backing away and eyeing them doubtfully.

Mark is suddenly sure this is a really bad idea. He turns, grabbing for Eduardo's wrist, but Eduardo just catches his hand and gives him a blank smile, pulling him onto set. Mark feels off-center, clutching at Eduardo as they step into the circle of cameras.

"Come on," Eduardo says, pulling him close. "You're supposed to be fucking me, don't make me do all the pushing around."

"We could do it without any pushing around," Mark retorts automatically. He doesn't let go of Eduardo's hand.

Eduardo rolls his eyes and leans down to kiss Mark.

It's vulgar. He kisses Mark for show, all quick tongue and open-mouthed exhales, and Mark wants to flinch away. They're not supposed to kiss like this.

But nobody would want to see how they kiss. Laziness and intimacy don't make for good porn.

Mark pushes him back to the bed, shoving him down and climbing on top of him. Eduardo holds onto his sides the whole way, balancing him, and Mark lets him hold more of his weight than is strictly necessary, feeling the flex of Eduardo's fingers through his shirt.

When Mark stops kissing him, Eduardo has widened eyes and his mouth is open as he pants. It's red and soft and he's looking at Mark as if he's been wounded.

Mark ducks his head, swallowing hard as he moves down Eduardo's body. Eduardo touches his head, and Mark knows him too well now, knows exactly how his fingers will scratch through Mark's hair and how his nails feel as they accidentally snag a little. Eduardo's cock is hard underneath his jeans; Mark brushes his cheek over it and moves his mouth up to Eduardo's hip, kissing the soft exposed skin where his shirt has ridden up. Eduardo's legs flex, and Mark can feel where his toes curl as he presses his feet to Mark's legs. Mark swallows again and can't help looking up.

Eduardo doesn't look hurt anymore. His expression is familiar; he's looking at Mark the way he did the time Mark woke him up at three a.m. and didn't let him get back to sleep until six: a little angry and a little tired and a lot vulnerable, and all of it open, right there to see.

Then, he'd been exasperated and more than a little bemused at Mark's excitement over something he didn't even understand. Mark had tried to explain, but he'd been deliriously tired and incapable of making much sense. Eduardo had eventually let the anger fade to affection, and he'd convinced Mark to fall asleep by promising he could keep the laptop running on the bed between them.

Mark curls his hands into fists and sits up and says, "Stop."

Eduardo freezes. So does everyone else.

"Stop," Mark repeats, more loudly. The cameras' unwavering red lights are still conspicuously lit. "Grams!"

"Cut," Grams snaps. "What's wrong, guy?"

"We're not doing this," Mark says. He feels Eduardo's hands go back to his hips. "It's still a fucking stupid idea. We're done."

"Think about this," Grams says.

"I have," Mark retorts, glaring. The last of the cameras turn off.

"Get off," Eduardo says, and uses his grip on Mark to shove him over.

There's a couple of snickers as Mark topples gracelessly off to the side.

"Guys," Grams says. "Just because you're not contractually bound, you don't have an excuse to keep doing this. You need to suck it up and figure out whether you really want to keep jerking everyone around like this."

Mark is fucking tired of everyone telling him what he should do. "Go fuck yourself."

Eduardo stalks off to the dressing room without a word. Mark sits back on his heels and rubs at his elbow. His neck feels hot and itchy under his shirt, and he's worried about Eduardo. Half the crew is muttering mutinously, probably pissed about losing a day of wages, and the other half is already packing shit up, probably anxious to get home. Grams has followed Eduardo into the dressing room. Mark hopes he isn't trying to change Eduardo's mind.

He climbs off the bed and finds his shoes, sliding his feet into them slowly. Then he looks around, cataloguing the set and surroundings, since he's not an idiot and he knows it's incredibly likely this will be the last time he'll see any of this.

Eduardo comes back out of the dressing room, shoulders set. He's washed his face; Mark can smell the soap as he comes nearer.

"I'll wait for you in the parking lot," Eduardo says.

Mark doesn't see why they can't go out together, but he decides after a second that it might be good to give Eduardo a little more time to get over his current fit of temper. Mark doesn't see why he'd be angry, since he's gotten what he wanted, but then, Mark has learned he's not always going to understand Eduardo. He's even begun to accept the idea.

So he says, "Okay," and watches Eduardo leave the studio.

"Zuckerberg!" Grams calls.

"No," Mark says, turning to face him.

"Hey," Grams says. "I just wanted to talk to you about your future."

"My future," Mark says flatly.

"Yes," Grams says. "Have you been thinking about moving anywhere? Doing anything new with your life?"

"Are you my counselor?" Mark says.

"We're friends!" Grams says. "Aren't we friends? I just want to talk."

"What do you really want?" Mark asks suspiciously. Eduardo's quick departure is looking less good with every word from Grams's mouth.

"I just want to know what's going on with you," Grams says unconvincingly.

"Eduardo and I aren't going to do the video," Mark says.

"Oh, believe me, Eduardo just made his opinion on things very clear," Grams says. "I just want to make sure you weren't planning anything as radical as his desertion."

"What?" Mark says.

---

They sit at Eduardo's kitchen table. Mark is at a loss about what to do, except he knows that before anything else, he needs Eduardo to start talking to him again. Eduardo is just staring at the wood tabletop. Mark is staring at Eduardo. Cat jumps up and settles in the middle, purring audibly. Mark thinks she's come a long way. He also thinks Eduardo doesn't give himself enough credit for that.

"You're angry," Mark says, prompting.

"Yes," Eduardo says, but to Mark's surprise he looks up. "No. I'm frustrated."

"With me?" Mark says, surprised.

"You just change your mind," Eduardo says. "You never fucking think."

"I'm sorry, did you decide you wanted to do it?" Mark says.

"I'm pissed because you agreed to do it in the first place!" Eduardo says.

"Yes, this is all my fault," Mark says.

Eduardo sighs, slumping. "No," he says. He looks rueful. "This part, sure. Not most of it, though. Well, no, it's always been my fault more than it is yours."

"What?" Mark says. He's pretty sure that competes with some of Sean's most incoherent sentences.

"All of this," Eduardo says, "is pretty much my fault. And I should've told you. I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize," Mark says, frowning. "Explain."

"My contract expired," Eduardo says. "It was a two year contract, and it expired three weeks ago. They've been trying to get me to re-sign for the last six months."

"Contract?" Mark says.

"Yeah," Eduardo says slowly. "Saying I'd film a certain number of scenes per month and exclusively for them for the two years the contract was in effect."

Mark frowns.

"You don't have a contract?" Eduardo says.

"No," Mark says. "I don't think most of us do."

"Oh," Eduardo looks confused. Mark is not surprised that he remains mostly oblivious about how good he is. He's been slow on the uptake this far, and it's not likely to change now.

"So they wanted you to re-sign. You've been refusing," Mark says. It's almost nice to know it wasn't just about money from the previous scenes. "You've been taking jobs on and off, but it made them nervous."

"I'm done with porn," Eduardo says quietly. "I'm sorry for not telling you this earlier, but I wasn't sure how to—"

"I knew you were going to quit. You told me. I don't care," Mark says. "It's boring anyway. We can figure out something else."

Eduardo makes a noise like half a laugh but shakes his head and says, "That's not what I mean. I told you I was planning on quitting, but I was already dragging my feet a little by then."

Mark frowns again.

"I'm already enrolled in college," Eduardo says.

"What?" Mark says.

"I had already applied when I met you," Eduardo says. "I was going to leave when my contract up. I almost changed my mind because of you. But I can't do this anymore, and classes are starting soon."

Mark doesn't say anything.

Eduardo shrugs. "That's what I should've told you. I just didn't know how to tell you I have to leave."

"What university?" Mark asks. Eduardo at least ought to tell him where they're going.

"Stanford," Eduardo says. "I applied a while ago. Somehow I got in."

"Okay," Mark says.

"I really am sorry I didn't tell you sooner," Eduardo says quietly, looking dejected.

"They have good a good computer science program," Mark says. He slides his hand slowly across the tabletop, touching the back of Eduardo's wrist until Eduardo reaches for him, clutching his palm tightly. He doesn't ask why Eduardo was afraid to tell him earlier; it's not as important as Eduardo is making out.

"Okay?" Eduardo says, brow furrowing.

Mark nods. "Top ranking."

"Mark," Eduardo says, looking at him hopefully. His hand squeezes a stranglehold on Mark's fingers.

"As I said, I don't have a contract," Mark says.

"Mark," Eduardo says.

"Yeah, yes," Mark says, trying to pretend he's not squeezing back just as tightly. "Of course I'm coming with you."

The End!

Then they run away to Palo Alto together! Dustin shows up on their doorstep four days later, really pissed Mark left him without a word. He goes to a nearby community college, while Mark gets a job at Stanford's IT department and squeaks in a late enrollment because this is fanfiction and things don't have to work like they do in real life. Dustin brings Chris by one day, who is this very nice boy who is very, very incapable of talking to either of them in complete sentences, which makes Dustin very sad until they find out it's because Chris recognizes Mark and Eduardo from their porn, and then Dustin doesn't let any of them ever live it down. They go on and invent Facebook, or revolutionize the porn industry, or something, idk. And they all live happily ever after, the end?