Mark’s response is immediate, the phone vibrating in Eduardo’s hand. He should have expected it, of course, it’s not like Mark keeps to normal hours, of course he’d still be up, probably at his laptop. Keeping his phone nearby because, apparently, he’s worried.
And yeah, when you think about it, if it was Mark suddenly going off the face of the earth and absolutely unreachable by any electronic means, Eduardo would be freaking out, calling Chris and Rebecca and possibly Mark’s mother. He should have expected it from Mark, even if he still clings to the image of Mark’s college-time obliviousness. They’ve come a long way from that, in more ways than one.
Mark’s response is immediate, and, strangely, actually includes typos, a sure sign of how fast Mark tried to to type. lrt me know if you need antthing. Eduardo stares at the screen long enough for it to darken and then fade to black, and he thumbs over the thing to call up the message again.
No, it hasn’t changed.
He lets it fade again and busies himself with work, unanswered e-mails and messages that aren’t from work, a couple of folders on his desk. If his thoughts return to Mark all too often, he’s determined to make that temporary. Moving on. A recurring theme in the life of Eduardo Saverin, but there you go.
And things get back to semi-normal, as things are bound to do. If he second guesses everything he writes to Mark, well, he’ll get better at that. If he looks forward to seeing Mark again with dread mixed with treacherous excitement, he only needs to remember the first step is the hardest.
Mark picks him up at the airport. This is no longer strange, it’s part of their routine, the same thing Eduardo does whenever Mark is the one to fly over. That one time way back when seems forgotten by unspoken mutual agreement, along with many other things.
“Hey,” Mark says, hands in the pocket of his hoodie. Eduardo’s stomach does that strange thing in which it tries to turn itself inside out and he’s not sure he can form words, not to mention sentences.
“Hey,” he repeats, because it seems easy enough. He can deal with that, it’s the following conversation, fuck, the following day or two, that he might have some trouble with.
Mark looks at him for a moment, eyes flickering up and down, like he’s checking that yes, Eduardo is here and yes, he seems alive and well. Eduardo fees a pang of guilt at the whole thing after his last visit, but anything he might say is forgotten when Mark’s phone rings somewhat loudly. Mark swears under his breath and glances at it before silencing and pocketing it.
It just starts ringing again.
“Seems important,” Eduardo says. Mark shrugs and reaches for Eduardo’s bag. Eduardo holds on to the strap pointedly, not budging an inch. Mark sighs long-sufferingly and shrugs.
“Nothing I can... We’ve had problems with the site since early morning. It’s...” he stops and rethinks. “They’re working on it.”
Early morning probably means the middle of the night, something in the lines of three or four am, Eduardo translates to himself. It explains the dark shadows under Mark’s eyes and the slight twitchiness. It’s definitely familiar.
“Keys,” he says, reaching out, palm up. Mark doesn’t move and Eduardo makes a quick grabbing motion. “Car keys, Mark,” he repeats and clarifies. “I don’t want to end up in an accident because you’re thinking of code. And that way you can work on your laptop while I’m driving.”
“Have you ever even driven in California?” Mark asks suspiciously.
“I’ve driven in other places. I assume the principles are the same,” Eduardo says flatly. “I’ve driven in New York, for fuck’s sake. And besides, I’ve been in your car before. Between the state-of-the-art GPS system that could pilot the Enterprise and the fact that your car fucking reads facebook newsfeed... I think it could drive itself without my involvement. It can certainly drive itself to the facebook offices.”
Mark’s staring at him in a rather unnerving manner, something akin to wonder on his face. After a moment, he shakes his head. “I didn’t... You’ve just arrived, we should just get home.”
A shiver runs down Eduardo’s spine at the last word. Home. Like Mark’s house is just that, like... But one, he’s getting over that, and two, at the very moment he shouldn’t be wasting time on telling himself to get over that, there are other pressing matters. “Keys. The sooner we get to the office the sooner you fix whatever’s wrong. And then we can get home,” he adds, the last word not sounding bitter on his tongue at all.
Mark hesitates just for a second before he fumbles for his keys and hands them to Eduardo. “Thank you,” he says, looking like he wants to add something, but he abandons the thought and hoists his laptop bag onto his shoulder, reaching for Eduardo’s luggage. His gaze is already a little absent, like he’s thinking in code.
It shouldn’t be endearing. The whole thing should remain Eduardo of the more exasperating times, but instead he’s sort of glad... there’s more of old Mark peeking through and Eduardo remembers the good things, the easy things. Difficult things, too, the frustrating version of Mark from the college times, but the memory is tinted with nostalgia, with wistfulness. And he knows that if they went home now, Mark would be irritable and worried and quite probably either shutting himself with his laptop in the bedroom or trying very hard not to, and being plain miserable for it.
Mark’s typing furiously in the passenger’s seat and Eduardo watches him out of the corner of his eye whenever they stop in the traffic. Despite what it sometimes feels like, Harvard was not that long ago. Mark doesn’t look different at all, especially not now, his head bowed and a look of utmost concentration on his face.
But the same thought keeps trashing around Eduardo’s skull, resonating everywhere else in his body. There are problems with facebook and Mark was still there at the airport.
Eduardo’s hands tighten on the steering wheel, his knuckles white. He bites his lip to keep the questions from spilling over, bites his lip enough there’ll be a mark left, keeps his mouth shut until they reach the offices.
“Out with you,” he tells Mark and pokes at his shoulder until Mark resurfaces and leaves the car, laptop still open as he makes his way towards the elevator. Eduardo shakes his head with some degree of amusement and follows him.
“What the hell are you doing here?” is what greets them, or rather, greets Mark. It comes from Rebecca, who pauses on her way, crossing her arms as she glares at Mark. “Shouldn’t you be picking up... Mr Saverin,” she nods, her brow smoothing down. Eduardo still hadn’t gotten her to move to the first name basis, despite all the conversation he has with her over the phone when he’s checking with Mark’s schedule (Mark can’t be trusted with his schedule at all. He keeps forgetting he has things planned, important things, and just tells Eduardo to visit whenever he wants, like it’s that easy.)
“Nice to see you, Rebecca,” Eduardo nods at her and turns to Mark. “I’ll pick us some dinner and bring it over, okay?”
“Sure,” Mark nods. He’s probably not listening to the word of it and Eduardo smiles at that.
“Okay then,” he says and pushes Mark in the general direction of his office before turning back to Rebecca. “How bad is it?”
“Dustin hadn’t cracked a joke for the last two hours, so I suppose it’s serious enough,” she shrugs. “But considering Mark now has an added incentive to work fast...” she tilts her head at Eduardo. “So, what do you want me to get you guys for dinner?”
“You don’t have to, I can...”
“Excuse me,” she points at him. “Shareholder. Assistant,” she says, pointing at herself. “I’ll get sandwiches from the cafeteria, I don’t think Mark has eaten anything since morning.”
“And more Red Bull,” Eduardo smiles and she grins at him.
“Yes, I’ve met Mark. You make sure he actually eats what he’s given and we’re good,” she says, pats his shoulder and walks away. Eduardo shakes his head at her and heads over to Mark’s office.
Mark has his headphones on and is staring at his screen, but, inexplicably, he looks up when Eduardo comes in and nods quickly in acknowledgment. When he gets back to his code, his typing seems a little more energetic, unless Eduardo’s imagining things. He could be imagining things, he’s kind of seriously tired.
“Type a little faster, I’ve always wanted to see smoke coming out of a keyboard,” he mutters, passing Mark on the way to the couch. He only realised he patted Mark’s shoulder on his way when Mark looks up again and smiles at him, taking a break from typing that lasts all of two seconds but still, happens.
“Thanks, Wardo,” Mark mutters and Eduardo sinks into the couch, closing his eyes and trying not to go insane.
He wakes up to Rebecca poking his shoulder gently. “What-” he starts and she shushes him, finger on her lips.
“Mark’s in the bathroom,” she says quietly. “I need him to think you woke up on your own, because I’m not in the mood to get fired today, the re-hiring thing is always so tedious.”
Eduardo blinks at her, trying to remember what the fuck. Mark’s office. Facebook. Right. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, they’ve fixed it. Seems like one of the new aps was fucking with the newsfeed, or something like that,” she shrugs. “Most of the guys has already went home, but Mark didn’t want to wake you... I wouldn’t either, but you’ll probably be more comfortable anywhere but this couch.”
He tries to get up and grimaces, reaches up to press his hand against his neck. It hurts. “You’re not wrong,” he mutters.
“I’ve called the car company,” she adds. “Mark looks like a raccoon, with the bags under his eyes, and don’t get me wrong, you’re not looking all that hot either.”
“Thanks,” he says dryly but smiles at her all the same. “I mean it.”
“Yes, well. Hopefully your presence will assure that Mark doesn’t show up here at the crack of dawn tomorrow,” she mutters and straightens up, stepping away just as Mark walks in, trying for quiet. He frowns when he sees Eduardo.
“I thought you were sleeping,” he says and Eduardo shrugs.
“Yeah, you’ve got one uncomfortable couch. I’ve asked Rebecca to call us a car, you ready to go home?” he asks and Rebecca winks at him, smiling. Mark nods, silent for a moment. In the half-darkness of the office Eduardo can’t quite make out his expression.
“That’s probably a good idea,” Mark says finally. He’s quiet all the way to his house, half-turned away from Eduardo, resting his head against the glass. He looks tired, and no wonder. Still, Eduardo welcomes the silence and turns to watch the lights of the city, fighting the need to close his eyes. Just a few minutes more.
“I just hope you don’t plan to get up before, I don’t know, midday,” Eduardo mutters once they’re inside. “And if you do, don’t wake me up, could you?”
“Wardo,” Mark says, a little too loud, a little too fast, like the word spills unbidden. Eduardo looks at him expectantly but it takes Mark a moment to speak again. “Thank you. I needed...” he starts and Eduardo shakes his head.
“It’s my company too,” he points out, feeling his smile get too sharp, a little broken. “Mark, it’s okay. Go to sleep, you look like you’re about to crash. You need rest.”
“I need you to stay,” Mark says, the words clipped and fast, and it takes Eduardo’s jet-lagged brain a moment to work through them. By the time he does, Mark’s already continuing, gaze fixed on the floor, to the left. “I mean, not need. Want. Probably. What I mean is, it’d be good to have you here more often. I know you never liked California, but even, I don’t know, New York, would be better than Singapore. It’s a really long way, Wardo,” he says curtly. “Have you thought about moving back here? It’s not like your job is really keeping you away, they don’t need you at the office.”
Eduardo shakes his head. It’s easier to refer to the last part, easier than to work himself up about everything else. “Thank you, Mark,” he says darkly.
“You know what I mean,” Mark says irritatingly, finally looking up. Eduardo nods. He does know and Mark isn’t wrong, he could work from States, fly in for the occasional meeting that can’t be conducted remotely. He’d probably be spending less time mid-air than he’s now, to be honest.
That’s not what’s important right now. What is important is that Mark is looking at him expectantly, his hands twisting inside the pocket of his hoodie. Eduardo’s heart is beating so loud he’s sure Mark can hear it. Fuck, people down the street can probably hear it.
It would make sense. It could make sense, he hasn’t really build anything akin to a life in Singapore, he has acquaintances and not friends, this would be closer to his family. And most of all... most of all, Mark’s here.
Mark takes a small step forward, looking like he’s unaware he’s doing it, and Eduardo shivers, cold and heat down his spine, his hands itching. “I can’t,” he says.
“You could video-conference and...”
That’s not it at all and Mark doesn’t understand. And Eduardo’s too tired to make him see, make him understand, he’s too tired to talk about it. Maybe if it was any other day.
“No. I can’t,” he tells Mark and takes a step forward, right into Mark’s space. He can make Mark understand. Fuck everything up in the process, but at least get it over with.
Kissing Mark is... fuck. His fingers grasp at the soft folds of Mark’s hoodie, tug him closer. Mark doesn’t resist at all, he falls softly forward, making a low, surprised noise. Eduardo fully intends for the kiss to be brief, harsh, just making the fucking point, but it’s not like that at all. Mark’s lips part for him and it’s... nothing but brief. Not harsh, either. Rough, okay, yeah, but it’s messy and heated and Mark’s hand goes up to the back of Eduardo’s neck, and he presses against Eduardo’s skin, like he wants Eduardo closer.
He had no idea it could be like that.
“Wardo,” Mark mutters against his lips and Eduardo remembers himself. He steps back and closes his eyes, because Mark’s right there in front of him, breathing harsh, his mouth red and swollen and his hair a right mess.
“We can’t do this.”
“We’ve been doing fine so far,” Mark points out, his voice devoid of snark his words would suggest, too soft. Eduardo forces himself to look at him and there’s a hint of a smile in the corner of Mark’s lips.
“I mean, I’m in love with you,” he admits. It feels easy to say, even as his stomach is clenching painfully.
Eduardo shakes his head. “It’s not good. It’s...” awful. Tragic. “Not good, Mark.”
Mark looks at him like he’s speaking another language. “Wardo,” he says slowly, like he’s trying not to spook him. “It’s good. See, that means you could stay, that means I can...”
“It’s a colossally bad idea,” he mutters. “We shouldn’t be doing this.” It’s been going well. It’s been going well enough and Eduardo wants to go back to yesterday, to last week, to last month, when it’s been easy. (Comparably. Not as easy as Harvard, but Jesus, so much easier than this, the tension stretching between them like a piano wire.)
“Shoudn’t? It was ‘can’t’ a moment before, is it a rising tendency? I could wait,” Mark mutters. His voice is a little colder now, less dazed and more aware, like he’s starting to think clearer. Good, he’ll see how utterly stupid the whole thing is.
“Mark,” Eduardo says flatly, willing him to understand. “It’s nothing... we’ve been doing fine so far,” he says, turning Mark’s words into something else. “Let’s not fuck it up. So fine, I love you, but you don’t...” he stops at the quick flicker of Mark’s expression, something lightning-fast and painful and he hesitates. “Do you?”
Mark grimaces and shrugs. His hands are at his sides now, fists clenched. “Who knows, Eduardo. You know how Dustin always jokes I must be at least part-robot? Well, it’s not like I actually have your image framed by numbers and my helpful skynet software listing the data. Eduardo Saverin, ex-best friend, current-whatever the fuck we are, possibly love of your life. I don’t have... I don’t have comparable...” he stops abruptly, like he said too much.
“Since when?” Eduardo asks, his voice alien to his own ears, like a recording, like something someone else said. He’s cold now, like all the blood was drained, possibly towards his heart, because fuck, it’s beating way too fast and too loud.
Mark shrugs. “Long time. I don’t know.”
“Before the dilution?” Like the best friends wasn’t enough. If Mark loved him, thought he loved him, and could still do that...
“I don’t know,” Mark repeats, frustrated. He always hated it when conversations were going in circles. “You were always something else, like no one... I didn’t know what it mean, I didn’t know until...”
“Don’t,” Eduardo raises his hand emphatically. He’s not sure he can bear to hear anything more. “I can’t do this,” he says again, sounding more sure than he feels. “I can’t take the risk that... Mark, we’ve barely rebuild the friendship. Don’t wreck it.”
Mark stares at him for a long moment and finally nods, steps back, his expression closed off and his eyes almost cold. “Alright, then. You’re tired,” he says flatly, like they’ve been having a conversation about the weather. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Eduardo’s left alone in the hallway, his head pounding with something that could be a migraine. His chest hurts, his stomach is queasy, and his hands shake. He should sleep, sure, but he doesn’t see how that would be possible, not with Mark in the other room, not with...
He fumbles for his cellphone, swearing at it quietly. He doesn’t even know the number to the cab company. He could call Dustin or Chris, but that would only lead to questions and he can’t deal with them now. He calls up his assistant and has her call the cab for him. She makes the call from Singapore and it takes the cab four minutes to arrive. That’s the digital age for you.
By the time he gets to the airport he feels numb all over. He buys the ticket for the next available flight and slouches in the lounge. He doesn’t even have his bag, he’s left the thing in the trunk of Mark’s car, and that’s in the garage of the facebook offices. Someone could probably mail it over, but there’s nothing but few shirts there. Oh, right, his laptop, too.
It doesn’t even matter. He closes his eyes and tries not to think how it felt to kiss Mark, how it felt to have Mark look at him and, in his own way, confess he’s been in love with Eduardo.
He’s fucked this up. They both did, one way or the other, wrecked it beyond recognition. No going back now. And this hurts more than anything, more than the dilution, even. He’s had anger to cling to back then, now he doesn’t have anything.
“You have a message from Mr Zuckerberg,” his assistant tells him when he makes it to the office. She sounds puzzled. While Eduardo usually called Rebecca to check with Mark’s schedule, Mark has always just e-mailed Eduardo directly, or texted him, or called. He maybe spoke to Cara twice in all those months.
It shouldn’t matter. “What is it?”
“He’s sorry you had to miss the meeting and will have his assistant send you all the necessary information. And also, you’ve apparently left your laptop behind?” she tries to smile at him but Eduardo’s expression makes her quickly drop it. “Mr Zuckerberg wants to assure you it’ll be sent right over.”
“Thank you,” Eduardo nods at her and she hesitates briefly before she nods right back and turns her attention back to her screen.
You can keep the laptop. I figure I owe you for that one I broke he types in an e-mail. He doesn’t send it. He starts four other messages and doesn’t even bother saving them as drafts, they’re not going anywhere.
He gets a politely worded, official e-mail from Rebecca, cc-ed to three other shareholders who didn’t make the meeting. Thirty seconds later, he gets another one, addressed just to him.
I’m fed-exing the laptop, per Mark’s instructions. He said to send you the whole bag, but I figure you can pick it up next time you’re here.
It’s a question, of course. If, when, Eduardo’s going to be in Palo Alto again. He doesn’t know. When, or even if. He doesn’t know and all he can think about is Mark standing in his hall, his hands stuffed into his pocket, telling Eduardo he needs him to stay. Wants him. Loves him.
It echoes in his head. The corridor outside the bathroom. That phonecall. Mark telling him he needs him time and again and Eduardo never quite listening. Never quite understanding.
And yet, Mark had said it before, said he needed Eduardo and managed to cut him out of the company. Drop him easily.
He thinks of Mark’s face across from him at the depositions table and knows there was nothing easy about that. No, not nothing. He thinks of the hug at the airport, the first one, hesitant and unsure. He thinks of the way Mark’s body melted into his during the kiss, the way they seemed to fit. That was easy, for the briefest of moments.
If he could be sure they weren’t just moments...
Did I dream you coming by? Dustin writes later that day. I think I’ve had too much Red Bull. My back hurts, could be the wings finally sprouting up. Telling you man, it’s all false advertising, I’ve been drinking it for years and guess what, NO FUCKING WINGS.
But you were here, right? Noticed your hair moving among the cubicles. There’s something freaky about the way it defies gravity, I always thought.
Maybe you can tell me what the fuck’s going on with Mark. It’s like someone reprogrammed him. The cheerfulness (yes, I wrote cheerfulness in relation to Mark, idek) is gone, he’s got an upgrade in the sulking and bitching program instead. Fix him, Wardo.
Eduardo swallows the guilt and the bile in his throat and types back he’s not a FUCKING ROBOT, DUSTIN. Let it go.
Fuck, there’s something going on. I knew it, I have a sixth sense for these things. You were here and now you’re gone again and Mark’s on a warpath and I can’t sneak out and get donuts. Kids don’t like it when Mommy and Daddy fight.
He types the first sentence of the response out and hesitates. Rereads the capslocked words and sighs, breathes out slowly and closes his eyes. He holds the backspace key until the words are gone. He’s not angry at Dustin, after all. He’s not angry at Mark either. He doesn’t trust him with his heart, no, but he’s not angry at all.
That leaves only one person his anger, the hot-cold feeling in his stomach, filling his lungs and his throat, pounding in his head; there’s only one person it can be directed at.
The e-mail he types out isn’t to Dustin.
You didn’t have to send the laptop. I owe you for that one I broke.
He sends it this time.
It’s hours before he gets a response. He’s pretty sure it’s not because Mark is away from the computer, Mark is never away from the computer for hours.
Your laptop is incredibly inefficient. You should get a new one.
Eduardo, I don’t know what you want from me. You’ve said you’re in love with me. I’m in love with you, that should be a good thing. I want you here, you think it’s better if we stay on the other sides of the planet. Just tell me what you want from me.
Jesus. Well, of course Mark was going to try logic and reason and manage to punch Eduardo in the gut with a succinctly phrased e-mail. That’s a skill that’s seriously undervalued in the society.
During the depositions I used to think all I wanted was for you to just look up and see what was going on. I think I would have dropped the suit in a heartbeat if you just apologised.
This time, Mark responds immediately. I should have. I was sorry then, I am sorry now. Not for... you know that. You must know that.
Not for the business stuff, he was right about all that. For the broken friendship, for the broken heart. For that. Eduardo knows that, and he doesn’t need the apology now.
I know that. Of course he knows that, it’s clear in everything Mark does, everything he’s been doing, in all the ways he...
In all the ways he’s been making room for Eduardo in his life. In all the ways he’s been opening up.
Yeah, okay, fuck.
I should probably cancel the ticket then, right? Mark writes. His turn to make the flight over and he was going to visit second weekend next month. Eduardo swallows and lets his fingers rest on the keyboard for a moment.
He’s not sure he wants this done over e-mail.
“Cara,” he calls softly and she pokes her head in. “I need you to do a few things for me.”
If he never flies again, it’ll be too soon, Eduardo thinks, waiting at the baggage claim. It passed ridiculous a while ago. But, well, maybe.
He calls Rebecca from the cab, makes sure Mark’s at the office. Ten in the morning, his chances were pretty good for that. She meets him by the entrance and grins widely.
“Listen, I don’t know what’s been going on, but,” she starts and Eduardo nods at her. He wants to tell her he’s not all that sure either, but settles on a nervous smile. “He’s in his office,” she tells him.
Of course he is. Eduardo can see him through the glass walls long before he reaches the door. Mark’s head is bent, the look of utmost concentration on his face. He looks a little more tired than Eduardo feels, and Eduardo hadn’t slept in twenty six, no, twenty seven hours. He’s also done two way too long flights in as many days, like a demented transpacific yoyo.
He leans against the doorframe and watches Mark type for a while. Now that he’s made the decision he feels terrified, yes, but light. Almost happy. This is why he hasn’t been able to fall asleep on the plane, the excitement buzzing under his skin.
“Hey,” he says and feels a shiver run down his spine when Mark looks up. There’s a flicker of expression on Mark’s face before he takes a moment to school it down, a smile chased down with wariness. Eduardo should have seen it sooner, should have realised what the nervousness meant. “Have you cancelled the ticket yet?” he asks and Mark shrugs.
“Didn’t get around to it.”
“You should cancel it,” Eduardo says and steps in, closes the door behind him. With the glass door and the glass wall it’s not going to do much for privacy, and he realises that there’s more than one pair of eyes fixed on them already, but he doesn’t care.
Mark obligingly slides away from the desk a little, making it easy for Eduardo to sit on the edge of it, his leg bumping against Mark’s.
“Weren’t you back in Singapore the last time I’ve checked?”
“Yes. Sorry about that.”
Mark shrugs, like it doesn’t matter, like there’s no hurt in his eyes. “Planes fly both ways,” he says, only seemingly whimsical. Things happen, people come and leave. Eduardo shakes his head.
“You were right, you know. I took stock and decided I could just as efficiently work from the States.”
“Really?” Mark asks and Eduardo shrugs.
“Probably. But mostly, you are here. And I’ve had enough of flying back and forth.”
“You could have stayed...” Mark starts and stops, like he’s realising it’s not the right moment for arguing. He tilts his head up, chin stuck out. “Wardo.”
“Tell me again,” he asks and Mark frowns at him. “I wasn’t listening before, not properly.”
“No.” He understands the sentiment, certainly reciprocates it, but the words are for a different time. Not what he, well, not what he needs.
“I love you,” Mark says, not like a confession at all, but in a flat tone, matter-of-fact. It means more this way and Eduardo closes his eyes.
“I love you too,” Eduardo mutters quietly and Mark looks at him in half-wonder and half-suspicion.
“So you’ve said,” me mutters, something of an attempt at a joke. “So, it’s that easy?”
“Not at all,” Eduardo admits. “But I’d rather... I’d rather have this now,” he says, reaching out, finally, letting his fingers run down the side of Mark’s jaw. Mark leans into the touch instinctively and Eduardo supposes he has the answer he wanted, even without voicing the question.
Mark moves to stand up, bumps into the side of the desk and pushes his laptop away. His face is level with Eduardo’s right now, and when he leans in, Eduardo expects a kiss. Instead, Mark rests his forehead against Eduardo’s, his hand on the side of Eduardo’s neck, fingers pressing against the pulse point.
“Now you tell me,” he demands of Eduardo, quiet and soft but firm. “You’re staying.”
“I’m staying,” Eduardo confirms.
“I’ve cleared your schedule for the rest of the day,” Rebecca offers helpfully from her desk when they leave Mark’s office.
Mark stares at her, catching on to her tone immediately. “You knew,” he sounds, sounding just slightly accusatory.
“Just that Mr Saverin wanted you to have some time free in your afternoon schedule,” she says easily, her smile nothing if not professional. “So, am I fired for conspiring or getting a raise for forethought?” she asks after a beat, wide grin showing off her teeth, and Eduardo knows why she’s lasted so long as Mark’s assistant.
Mark looks like he’s actually seriously considering his choice and Eduardo elbows him. “You get a day off tomorrow,” Mark says finally. “Since I won’t be in anyway.”
“Fantastic,” Rebecca nods and Eduardo wholeheartedly concurs. Mark’s hand slides into his for a brief moment, enough to squeeze lightly before he lets go again. “Have a good day, Mark. Eduardo,” she adds and Eduardo stares at her, because sure, this is when she chooses to switch to the first name basis.
Maybe she figures he’ll be a permanent fixture at the office, attempting to drag Mark away for lunch every other day, trying to get him leave early in the evening from time to time. Eduardo could do that, could get used to that.
The elevator doors close and Mark shakes his head, smiling slightly, like some stray thought occured to him.
“I seriously shouldn’t have sent you the laptop. It’s probably on its way to Singapore.”
“That’s what you...” On the second thought, not surprising. “I should have let you know I was coming, to be honest. Check with you if it’s okay, not only with Rebecca and her spreadsheet.”
Mark turns and presses into Eduardo’s space without much warning, hand flat on Eduardo’s chest, right over his heartbeat. Eduardo relaxes easily, bows his head and kisses the corner of Mark’s mouth, licks at the place where a smile is starting.
“This might come as a shock,” Mark says dryly, turning his head to speak directly into Eduardo’s ear, his breath warm and ticklish. “But I’m actually glad you’re here.”
Eduardo nods seriously. “I might have gotten that impression,” he agrees. He sneaks his hand under Mark’s hoodie, runs his thumb up and down a patch of Mark’s skin. Mark groans and tries to get closer, but there’s no space left between them. He tilts his head and kisses Eduardo instead, properly, licks into his mouth and bites at his lip.
By the time they reach the ground floor, Eduardo is having troubles standing up. “Move,” he tells Mark. “Unless your id blocks the elevator and you don’t have any security cameras here. I could approve that as the alternate plan.”
Mark laughs, or tries to, the sound turning into a groan. “Security cameras, fuck. Chris is going to be pissed.”
“The founder and co-founder of facebook making out in the elevator? If you wanted to keep the whole thing a secret you probably shouldn’t have gone for the hand-holding shtick back there. I think everyone in the office saw that.”
“A secret,” Mark mutters thoughtfully, stepping back and tugging at Eduardo’s sleeve to get him out of the elevator. “Like fuck. I’m blogging about it,” he says, and he’s probably joking except you never know with Mark. Eduardo doesn’t think he would mind, to be honest. “First thing in the morning,” Mark adds. “I have more pressing matters right now. Well, maybe not first thing in the morning. Second. No, third, I have some ideas about the first and the second thing.”
Eduardo laughs all the way to the car.
“Buttons,” Mark says, imbuing the words with an impressive degree of hatred. He’s trying to work Eduardo’s shirt open with one hand, because the other is stuck down Eduardo’s pants. Surprisingly, he didn’t have any trouble dealing with opening those.
Eduardo would help him, but his attempts attempts were discouraged and his hands swatted away. He’s fine with that, it leaves him free to place his hands on the sides of Mark’s neck, pull him close for a long kiss. Mark’s lips are already swollen and slick.
“Buttons,” Mark says against the corner of Eduardo’s lips, “need to go. You live in California now, embrace t-shirts,” he suggests darkly.
Eduardo has his own suggestion to make. “Fuck you,” he mutters and hums his displeasure when Mark pulls away a little, his eyes dark as he tilts his head thoughtfully.
“Yeah,” he says, nodding for emphasis. “Okay.”
Eduardo stares at him for a moment. It’s not that he didn’t know where this was heading (bedroom, hopefully, he had nothing against the hall, but well), but Mark stating it plainly, his eyes wide and dark, licking his lip after the words... “Jesus, Mark,” he mutters and tugs at Mark’s sleeve. “Bedroom.”
“You get two out of three,” Mark tells him. Eduardo rolls his eyes at him, but they’re stumbling toward the bedroom and Mark’s getting a head start by pulling his hoodie off, so Eduardo will hold off on commentary and get on with the program. It would involve having to think, and he’s taking a break from that till morning.
His brain approves and shuts down some two seconds after they get into the bedroom and Mark pushes Eduardo onto the bed before crawling up himself, kicking his shoes in the process. Eduardo’s dick approves even more, especially when Mark’s fingers tighten around it.
The rest of the night is something of a blur, understandably.
He wakes up slowly, his head hazy and his arm numb, but with a feeling of deep satisfaction is his body, the cause of which he only remembers after a moment it takes him to orient himself and smile at Mark, who seems alert enough to be awake for a while.
“Morning,” he says and Mark nods, bends his head to brush his lips against Eduardo’s shoulder. Eduardo shakes his head and pulls Mark closer for an actual morning kiss. That’s better.
“You’re going to like this,” Mark mutters, a little reluctantly. “I’ve left my laptop back at the office.”
Which would explain why he’s not busy checking his e-mail first thing and checking on facebook right after that. Eduardo laughs and when he looks up, Mark’s looking at him fondly, satisfied. “I’m sure you have at least two back-ups here at home. Three, more probably.”
“Yes,” Mark waves his hand in the general direction of the door. “But they’re in the study. It’s...”
Far away from here, from the bed. From Eduardo.
“That self-satisfaction is a really unbecoming look for you,” Mark tells him dryly.
Eduardo nods at him pleasantly. “Whatever you say.” He sits up and stretches, and sure, he might be doing it that little bit on purpose, watching out of the corner of his eye Mark swallowing and licking his lips. He smiles and leans over, kissing Mark’s forehead. “Find your back-up laptops, I’m going to take a shower.”
“Okay,” Mark says. It takes him approximately seven seconds to discard the notion and join Eduardo in the bathroom.
Mark opts for checking his messages over breakfast, which of course means he promptly forgets about breakfast. Eduardo shakes his head and makes coffee, watching Mark openly, until Mark looks up and grimaces. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Eduardo assures him. “I don’t actually want your undivided attention all the time. We’d drive each other insane at some point.”
“You mean like we haven’t already?” Mark points out dryly.
He’s got a point and Eduardo rises his coffee mug in acknowledgment. It doesn’t stop him from placing his other hand on Mark’s knee. Well, it starts on Mark’s knee. Mark closes the laptop with a snap. “For someone who just said he doesn’t want my attention...” he stops and bites his lip, like the next word was going to turn into a groan and he doesn’t want to give Eduardo that satisfaction just yet.
“I said undivided and all the time,” Eduardo reminds him, sitting back a little. “I’ve resigned myself to being abandoned tomorrow when you get to the office. In fact,” he sends Mark a smile to let him know it wasn’t meant as a dig. “It suits my purposes. Cara’s supposed to send me a list of places to rent nearby, I want to see some of them as soon as possible.”
“But... you should stay here,” Mark says, worry crossing his face and Eduardo reaches out, takes Mark’s hand and laces their fingers together.
“I’m staying, Mark. But this is just starting for us, and I think that when one of us fucks something up, and let’s face it, we’re bound to, I want us to have a possibility of having some space that wouldn’t mean checking in to a hotel or, I don’t know, staying at Dustin’s.”
“Most people manage with sleeping on a couch,” Mark mutters, but he nods. “You’re buying a house in Palo Alto, I thought I’d never see the day.”
“Renting,” Eduardo corrects him. “There’s a natural progression to relationships, I’ve been told but haven’t experienced, of course. I might want to move in here at some point,” he tells Mark and shrugs. “And Palo Alto, well. You’ve said you’d be fine with me moving to anywhere in the US, even New York...”
“I lied,” Mark says wryly. “I was hoping I’d convince you to move to California gradually.”
Eduardo’s stomach practically flip-flops at that. He’s getting used to the sensation. “I’m here,” he says.
It’s funny, how he turned from reluctance and fear of having his heart broken again to reassuring Mark. As if that first step was all that took to break through the paralysis holding him back. He’s still petrified, sure, but he’s in this, he wants this to work.
This starts here. “I’ll call Cara and make sure everything is going as planned with transfering my whole life over the ocean. You can use that time to check on the mistress.”
“Considering you’re the co-founder this is vaguely incestuous.”
“Less time now, Mark,” Eduardo says and tugs at Mark’s hand when Mark stands up. Their fingers are still laced together and Mark obediently bends down into a kiss, his lips brushing against Eduardo’s nose, then his forehead, as he pulls back.
“I’m changing my status,” he tells Eduardo, as if he’s just decided. Eduardo considers pretending to misunderstand but abandons the idea.
“Do I get a say in this?”
“No. You get to choose your own house, and I get to veto if it’s too far away.”
Mark heads out into the study and Eduardo thumbs his phone on. It’ll take Mark a moment to boot up his computer. Eduardo wonders if he has enough time to change his own status faster than Mark does.
He’s made the first step, and then some. It could be the time to take off running.