Fandom: The Social Network
Disclaimer: Based on fictionalised portrayals as seen in the movie.
A/N: KIDFIC. I am not even pretending to be sorry about any of this... Written for kink meme, reposted. Prompt: The one where Mark somehow ends up with a child and of course needs a nanny for the amount of time he spends at the office. Only problem is a string of nannys keep trying to get into his pants for what he assumes is his money. Cue Mark's assistant hiring a male nanny, enter Eduardo.
Dustin’s desk is occupied when he gets to work on Monday. He’d worry he got replaced, but he recognises the culprit. Well, not exactly the culprit, because he has clear ideas as to whom might be responsible.
“Mark, your daughter is using my computer, with its impressive processing power and all, to draw a picture of Batman riding a unicorn, and I’d really like to know why.”
Mark doesn’t even look up. “She likes the big screen.”
“So do I, which is why...” Dustin shakes his head. That’s not the way to get to the explanation and definitely not the way to get his computer back. He loves Jess, but she leaves sticky-sweet fingerprints on his keyboard every time.
He knows they’re sticky because he... no. He’s never admitting to licking the keyboard, for any reasons whatsoever, forget about it. Moving on.
Subject at hand, Jess on his computer. Which could mean one thing.
“Why did you fire this one?”
By now, Dustin doesn’t even bother remembering the names of the hopeful girls that appear and disappear equally quickly. To be honest, they’re all kind of interchangeable, young and brightly energetic in that way that has them Speak In A Clear Voice and whip out flash cards and educational games from their big bags. Nice and friendly and eager to please and so completely, totally clueless.
It all goes well until a few months in, when they start feeling comfortable and starts getting ideas. Ideas that Mark works too much and needs a love of a good woman, or some other shit, Dustin can’t even. He couldn’t even since the first one, Carly or Cathy, who made Mark packed lunch and wanted to meet his friends and hinted and flirted until she figured out what should be clear to everyone, that Mark sometimes just didn’t pay attention, and proceeded to literally try and get into Mark’s pants.
Mark did notice that.
Dustins is sure it’s not the girls’ fault. They’re all soft sciences majors, they’ve been fed Pride and Prejudice and analysed sonnets and spent hours lying in bath reading chick lit novels and they think they’re Bridget Jones. Or that chick from Love Actually. Whichever of them, but not Keira. The assistant, or the Portuguese cleaner girl.
Dustin’s references need work. They also seem to be Colin Firth-specific, which says something about either Dustin, or Firth. Let’s go with the latter.
“I didn’t fire her. We’ve decided she wasn’t quite suitable for the position,” Mark explains, and that’s probably true.
“Translation. She hit on you, you turned her down, and she had the good sense to realise it’d be awkward and mortifying to continue working for you. Well, more awkward and mortifying than working for you is from the get go.”
“I didn’t fire Sandra, but I can fire you, if you’d like,” Mark offers pleasantly.
Dustin nods magnanimously. Mark would be lost without him after half a day, he’s sure of that. “There’s only one thing I don’t get. I mean, they all hit on you-- wait, make that two things I don’t get, because seriously, why would all those young, reasonably pretty chicks hit on you, I’ll never know.”
“It could be the money, that would be why they never hit on you-- oh, wait,” Mark mutters and hey, there’s absolutely no reason for that. Dustin gets laid plenty. Which brings him to.
“You could take one of them on their offer. I mean, I am pretty sure you can mate with humans, we have tangible proof of that,” he points with his towards Jess, who seems to have abandoned her masterpiece and is playing a Barbie game. And probably beating Dustin’s score. Not that-- Oh, for fuck’s sake. “You should just fuck the next nanny that hits on you.”
“I honestly hope I’ve heard that wrong, Moskowitz,” Lisa says from the doorway. “And close the door when you’re throwing around words like that, kids Jess’ age repeat everything.”
“She’s Mark’s kid, she’s heard worse,” Dustin points out and Lisa grimaces at him. Mark looks up briefly, but doesn’t comment, the slight twitch of his eyebrows suggesting this conversation is beneath him, and also a waste of his precious time.
“You wanted to see me, Mark?”
“Jess needs a new nanny. And would it be too much to ask to have someone more interested in taking care of her than in taking care of me?”
“Sounds like a direct quote,” Dustin guesses.
“Apparently, I look like I need it. Fuck is this,” Mark says, a bit louder than his usual tone, and Jess looks up, her ears prickled. Mark shakes his head at her. “Don’t use that word.”
“A dollar,” she says reproachfully. They’ve installed the swear jar a month ago and Jesus, Dustin is glad he is a billionaire. Thankfully, she didn’t hear his earlier slip. “You too, Uncle Dustin.”
“At least you can sleep soundly knowing she’ll only multiply the family fortune,” Dustin tells Mark.
“Lisa?” Mark prompts and she nods.
“Got it, you want a nanny who wouldn’t want to sleep with you. I’d volunteer, but I already have my hands full, you know.”
Mark rolls his eyes at her. “I’m pretty sure there are other people. I remember meeting quite a number of them at college,” he adds dryly.
“Figures, because that was the time when you were actually trying to get laid. And I know you’re married to facebook and all, but fuck, Mark,” Dustin shakes his head.
Jess jumps down from the chair and reaches for her Ben 10 backpack before making her way towards them. “I need to go to the toilet,” she informs them. “And uncle Dustin needs to pay another dollar.”
Lisa actually loves her job. Sure, she’d complain when asked, because people think there’s something wrong with you when you work a nine-to-five office job and don’t complain. The thing is, it’s not a regular nine-to-five, and not only because Mark keeps really strange hours sometimes.
She’s worked in a hotel reception for a while, before, and she’s seen weirder things, especially during the night shifts.
Facebook is a tad unconventional of an office, but mostly in a good way. There’s the wall, which is kind of awesome, and they have the best freakin’ meals plan imaginable, and once you get to work out what makes Mark tick, running his life is pretty easy, if time-consuming. And she gets to poke Moskowitz a lot, which is never not entertaining.
There are few things she could do without, and the process of finding a new nanny for Jessica Zuckerberg every few months is one of them.
They were lucky with the first one. Susan was with Mark and Jess for the first three years, and she was lovely. Carried gluten-free sweets with her, told fantastic stories and seemed to love Jess and dote on Mark. When her daughter-in-law got sick she left to look after her own grandchildren full-time.
Mark offered he’d give her a raise. He might have even suggested giving her shares in facebook and he might not have been kidding. Susan patted his shoulder and ruffled his hair and said he’d be fine, and his girl too. She visits sometimes, still.
After that there was Candy, and Maia, and Grace. Elena and Tina. Beatrice and, finally, Sandra. Lisa is ready to give in and admit she might be a shitty judge of character, because they all seem perfectly sweet and then end up scaring the hell out of Mark when they hit on him, or something.
Lisa laughed about it really hard the first two or three times. Now she just shakes her head and goes through the neverending list of resumes and calls everyone she knows and checks the references and drinks even more coffee than usual.
She’s just about ready to scream when Jen calls her, speaking so fast Lisa has to strain to understand a word.
“Jesus, how much caffeine you had today?”
“You won’t care, because you’re gonna buy me coffee anyway. Lots of it, with whipped cream and sprinkles, because you love me,” Jen tells her, a little slower. And smugly, let’s not forget smug.
“Why do I love you now?”
“I found you someone.”
“I don’t have time for blind dates, I’m still getting over the last disaster.”
“I meant a nanny for Zuckerberg.”
Now, that’s more like it. Lisa might love Jen, it is just to be determined how much. “Okay, we’re gonna discuss that coffee. Tell me about her.”
“Him,” Jen corrects. “I hope Zuckerberg isn’t too old-fashioned.”
Lisa rolls her eyes. Jen met Mark at a fundraiser a year ago and wasn’t impressed. It was a bad day for Mark, though, they’ve been having some troubles explaining the privacy issues when they raised their ugly head again, and Jess was going through a mild case of flu.
“He invented facebook,” Lisa reminds her. “I think that’s far from old-fashioned.”
“So, about the manny.”
“We’re not using that word,” Lisa groans. “Is he any good? Because I need really good right now, not only because of Mark, but because Jess had seven nannies in the last three years and she needs some freakin’ stability in her life.”
“Would I recommend anyone who wasn’t absolutely perfect?”
“I have bad taste in men. I have excellent taste in possible employees. He’s worked for the Trents for three years, he’s good.”
“Why isn’t he working for them now?”
“Because Hailey Trent is fourteen now, she hardly needs a nanny. Stacy swears by him, says Hailey could have done without a nanny for quite a while now, but they didn’t want to let Eduardo go. He’s that good, okay?”
“I’m not buying you coffee until I meet him,” Lisa warns her, but she allows herself a smile.
After all, this can’t be worse than Elena. Or Grace. And this guy, whoever he is, probably wouldn’t hit on Mark, and, well, Stacy Trent is smart and sweet, and if she says that Eduardo is solid, he might indeed be solid.
“Okay, give me his number. I might owe you.”
So, okay, she owes Jen a bucket of coffee.
Also, she feels a little cheated, that she gets Steve as the blind date and Eduardo as the nanny for her employer’s daughter, because Steve didn’t look like that. If Steve looked like that, she might have overlooked a few other flaws, like the fact that his brain seemed to be missing.
“I’m Eduardo,” he says, shaking her hand. “Saverin,” he adds when she doesn’t say a word, because excuse her, flustered there for a second.
“Right. Listen, I’ve seen your resume and I’ve talked to Stacy Trent, and I’d hire you on the spot, but you need to meet Mark first.”
“And Jessica,” Eduardo adds, his tone a little questioning, like he’s checking he has the right name. And okay, Stacy was right about that one, because he seems eager to meet the kid he’s actually going to look after, and not the father who just happens to be the CEO of Facebook.
“Yeah. But Jess is lovely, so I’m not worried about that. Mark, however, is the one who could scare you away,” Lisa jokes and Eduardo raises his eyebrow at her questioningly. “Oh, you’ll see. Come on,” she says and pushes him out of her office. He looks at her strangely.
Well, she did say the office was unconventional, he’d have to get used to it.
“Mark,” she calls out from the doorway. “I’ve found you a nanny.”
Jess is asleep on the couch, hugging a giant stuffed microbe. It might be the salmonella. Mark practically bought out the whole line of those things, Lisa can’t understand what the appeal is. Except that chlamydia is kind of cute.
Wait, let’s rephrase that.
“Where is she?” Mark prompts, his voice lowered to almost a whisper.
“That would be me, I think,” Eduardo volunteers from over Lisa’s shoulder and Mark’s eyes narrow.
“You think? You’re not sure,” he says flatly.
She should have sent Mark an e-mail first, telling him to be nice because they want this one to hang around.
“Well, you haven’t hired me yet, so no, I’m not sure. Let me know how it goes,” Eduardo says lightly, his lips stretching in a bright smile, and Lisa wonders if she remembers enough of Morse code to blink fast at Mark and communicate that the want to keep this guy.
“Time to go home?” Jess asks, rubbing at her eyes as she sits up. Mark frowns at the clock. It’s not close enough to his normal end of the day time, but it’s also late enough that he should start thinking of driving Jess home and putting her to bed.
“In a few minutes,” he tells her, making a decision. “I just need to finish up here, okay?”
Eduardo looks between them and steps forward. “How does half an hour sound? Jess could show me around the office. I’m new here,” he tells Jessica and Lisa automatically glances at Mark, curious of his reaction. He looks puzzled but pleased, possibly because there’s no fake cheerfulness in Eduardo that always accompanied all the prospective nannies. He sounds earnest and perfectly pleasant, but his smile isn’t studied.
“You should see the wall,” Jess tells him. “I have a corner. I draw something new every time I’m here,” she adds and Mark starts nodding.
“Okay, half an hour. Sounds good. We’ll talk later,” he adds and Eduardo nods at him before he takes Jessica’s offered hand. Lisa watches them head towards the wall and crosses her arms before turning to look at Mark. He rolls his eyes at her. “He doesn’t seem crazy, or an idiot, or like he might start making googly eyes at me over breakfast, so well done. You might actually be useful someday.”
“Wow, you like him,” she shakes her head. “That’s quite possibly the highest praise I’ve got from you,” she teases.
“It doesn’t matter if I like him,” Mark says sharply. “I don’t need him to keep me company and provide me with entertainment. If Jess likes him and he’s capable of taking care of her adequately, then it doesn’t matter what I think.”
Which is a total lie, obviously, because one, Mark wouldn’t allow a guy he didn’t like within ten feet of Jess. And two, he obviously likes Eduardo already, judging by the fact that he’s not only as close to a smile as Mark gets, and especially as he closed his laptop already and is looking through the glass walls of his fishbowl of his office, tracing the path of Eduardo and Jess.
“He’s acceptable,” Mark allows and Lisa allows herself to radiate all the smugness she feels. Acceptable, ha.
Eduardo isn’t quite sure what Mark expected and no, it’s not the guy thing. Contrary to the popular opinion, you don’t need a vagina to be capable of looking after a kid. If you didn’t notice, Mark’s a single father and he’s doing fine.
With help, sure, but that’s because his job is time consuming. And he makes time when needed, he’s learned to do that.
He’s not sure how to describe this, but Eduardo... doesn’t try too hard. He seems like a nice enough guy, and Lisa has probably checked and rechecked his references, so if Jess likes him Mark’s all for the guy.
Jess seems to love him.
She’s not a... she’s not a shy kid, as such. She’s a little wary of other children, mostly because she spends most of her time around adults, but she makes friends easily, once she bothers. She says most kids she meets are boring to talk to, they can’t even read.
Everyone seems to think it’s Mark’s fault, but it was Chris who taught her how to read last summer. So, okay, the words she uses are something Mark could have said, if he was five-almost-six and had a limited vocabulary.
But he’s actually rather pleased she has discerning taste and doesn’t like everyone. Labrador retrievers like everyone, people should have standards.
She likes Eduardo, though.
“Eduardo knows a lot about weather,” she tells Mark. “You know you can make a rainbow at home?”
Sure he knows. He remembers half-assed attempts at his own kindergarten. Nothing special, he thought, except that Jess looks at him with shining eye and it occurs to him that she is excited about something that isn’t books or weird tv cartoons he doesn’t get.
“Did Eduardo offer to show you how?” Mark asks her, glancing up at Eduardo. That’s something he’s used to during the first meeting, they promise Jess things before Mark even decides to hire them, and if Mark doesn’t decide to hire them, Jess gets disappointed.
“No,” Jess frowns after she thinks about it. “Could you?” she asks Eduardo and he crouches down to her level and shrugs.
“I’m sure your dad can figure it out too. He’s a smart guy, I’ve been told,” he adds and Jess nods.
“He invented facebook.”
“Really?” Eduardo says, drawing out the word, like he’s impressed. “And what’s facebook?”
Jess looks at him incredulously, like he’s being silly. “Everyone knows what facebook is,” she tells him decisively, now convinced Eduardo is being silly.
Eduardo’s face breaks into a grin and he nods. “Everyone does,” he agrees. “There’s no fooling you, I see.”
“When can you start?” Mark asks before he thinks about it.
Fuck, Lisa might have been right when she accused him of liking Eduardo. He’s just met the guy, he knows nothing about him except that he’s good with kids, has glowing references and a really nice smile.
Lisa steps forward and shrugs. “Eduardo, I know you’ve said on the phone that you can start next week, but...”
“Tomorrow,” Eduardo interjects. “I have-- I can make time,” he decides matter-of-factly and rises to his feet, nodding at Mark. “So, we’re sure now, then.”
“Great. I’ll get the papers for you to sign, Eduardo,” Lisa says and leaves. Mark doesn’t look away from Eduardo, just waves at her absently.
“Reasonably sure. I don’t have time to learn how to make a rainbow,” he adds wryly and Eduardo looks at him seriously.
“You would,” he says with conviction. “If she wanted you to,” he adds, like he’s figured it out already and nothing Mark says would make him think otherwise.
That’s... Often people who don’t know Mark, and sometimes especially people who do know him, assume he’s glad to pass Jessica off to one nanny after another, that she’s an obligation and not... not the best thing in his life, easily. Sure he works a lot, nowadays everyone does. And he’s not good with kids, never was, she’s a little better off when she’s looked after by people who know what they’re doing and not someone who was petrified he’d drop Jess the first time he held her.
Eduardo seems to have figured that out, somehow.
“Can you really start tomorrow?” Mark asks, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “I’m only slightly desperate, I could wait a day or two.”
“No, it’s fine,” Eduardo tells him. “I can start whenever you want me to.”
Now would sound a little more than slightly desperate, Mark supposes. “Hey, Jess,” he says, ruffling her hair. She looks up at him a little sleepily, he should be getting home soon. “Eduardo’s gonna be taking care of you now, when I’m not home. You okay with that?”
She nods. “Good. Here, hold Salmo,” she tells Mark and hugs Eduardo’s legs perfunctorily, like she’s welcoming him to the family or something. Mark shakes his head.
“Salmo?” Eduardo asks. He looks like he’s holding back a laugh.
“Like Elmo,” Mark explains seriously. “Only he’s a salmonella, so, of course.”
“Of course,” Eduardo agrees.
Mark makes a point of staying home the first day with every new nanny. People seem surprised at that sometimes, like they expect him to make use of the first moment someone stays with Jess and rush it into the office. Please. He can work from home for a day, it’s just less efficient than going to the office.
And Jess, well, Jess might like most people, warm up to them quicker than Mark does, but just in case she needs some extra layer of comfort, Mark elects to stay and check up on Eduardo. Just in case.
“Sandra’s not coming back?” Jess asks in the morning, when Mark tells her they’re expecting Eduardo soon. She has toothpaste in the corner of her mouth and Mark reaches out to wipe it off with his thumb.
“No. She-- I don’t think she was good for us,” he explains awkwardly.
“She knew good songs,” Jess says absently, investigating the cereal cupboard. She picks up the chocolate ones and holds it up for Mark’s approval. She should probably eat something more nutricious and less sugary, but what the hell, it’s a day of change and all that. He nods and she smiles.
“Did you-- Are you going to miss Sandra a lot?” Mark asks, a little guiltily. It’s probably his fault, should have made it clear from the beginning that he wasn’t interested, but damnit, Sandra didn’t seem all that interested at first either. He should have written a clause into the contract, that they’re not allowed to hit on him. Maybe if they knew from the start... Something to think about, next time. If Eduardo doesn’t work out.
Mark wants Eduardo to work out. He’s not quite sure how to explain to the legal department that he wants to put it in the contracts that the nannies are not allowed to flirt with him. Situations like this weren’t covered in the sexual harassment workshops.
He places a bowl in front of Jess and waits until she fills it with cereal, going overboard as always and leaving little place for milk. “Jess?” he prompts and she shrugs.
“Sandra was okay,” she offers, shrugging again. Mark’s pretty sure she gets this one from him. He’s been told, mostly by Dustin and Lisa, that she looks like an absolute Zuckerberg when she does that. Mark wonders if it’s just as infuriating when he does that, because you absolutely can’t tell what she’s thinking.
The doorbell rings and Mark nods at her. “Hold that thought,” he mutters and goes to get the door. “Your shirt will be ruined if she fingerpaints. And she loves fingerpainting,” he warns Eduardo flatly and gets a wide grin in response.
“Duly noted. Don’t worry about my shirts, I got it covered,” he pats the duffel bag he’s carrying, the strap casually on his shoulder, and waits. “Should I come in?” he prompts after a moment and Mark hurries to step aside.
“I should show you the house,” he mutters. “This is the hall, you might have noticed.”
“Thank you for confirming,” Eduardo nods seriously. “I wasn’t sure.”
Mark rolls his eyes. “The kitchen. And your charge,” he reaches out to ruffle Jess’ hair. “Who definitely had more milk and less chocolate death in her bowl when I left the room.”
She shrugs at him, maybe a little guiltily. “Eduardo!” she perks up. Mark can’t remember how she reacted the first time she met Sandra. Or maybe Tina, Jess liked Tina.
“Hey, Jess,” Eduardo says cheerfully, topping it off with some kind of salute, and Mark stares at him. It’s just on that side of ridiculous that’s also somehow charming. Jess giggles. “You okay if I talk to your Dad for a while or do you need some help finishing that mountain of chocolate?”
“Mine,” Jess tells him seriously, but she’s obviously trying hard to keep her face from breaking into a grin. “Yeah, okay. You can show me the rainbow later?”
“Sure,” Eduardo nods seriously, like it’s a promise. “Shall we, Mr Zuckerberg?” he asks, and it takes Mark a moment to shake the confusion off.
“Mark,” he corrects Eduardo. “Otherwise it gets weird,” he adds, because he’s been here before. After a week or so of seeing someone over breakfast, and trying to join forces in convincing Jess of the value and importance of muesli, the Mr thing gets a little awkward.
Mark doesn’t insist on in the office, why would he insist on that at home?
It usually makes the nannies blink and hesitate, at least, but Eduardo takes it in stride, running a hand through his hair. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Mark repeats. That’s settled.
“Rules? Schedule?” Eduardo prompts after a moment, and right. Mark got a little distracted, and it might be because Eduardo’s shirt is still ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as his hair, especially now that he carded his fingers through it. It sticks up in the front. It should look stupid, not only ridiculous, but it doesn’t.
“Right. She doesn’t have a fixed schedule, as such. I mean, lunch and dinner are at fixed times, and the bedtime is important. She tries to wiggle her way out of it, but yeah. She has the kindergarten thing at ten. It’s not a kindergarten as such, we’ve tried that, she hated it, and no wonder. They did macaroni art and didn’t let her just sit back and read, and the children all thought that Hannah Montana was the height of the entertainment. Who in their right minds lets five year olds watch Hannah Montana?”
“People who should know better,” Eduardo agrees. He’s smiling, and Mark wants to huff at that, but it doesn’t seem like he’s laughing, or making fun of Mark, he’s just listening intently, gently bemused.
“But I’ve been told Jess needs to socialise with kids her age. So, the thing at ten, till twelve. I’ve called ahead and told them you’re bringing her today, the address is on the sheet Lisa gave you. She gave you the sheet?” He waits for Eduardo to nod before he continues. “She has judo on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon. That’s it for the schedule.”
Eduardo is still smiling. Mark isn’t sure why, so he frowns expectantly. “No piano lessons, ballet, or horse riding?” Eduardo prompts wryly and Mark snorts.
“We’ve tried most of them. She gets excited for a week when one of her friends starts something but she soon becomes disinterested. I know I should teach her to stick with what she chose, but, whatever. She’s been miserable for two weeks when I’ve made her stay in the ballet class. I didn’t even see the point of the ballet class, it was an excuse to let them prance around in the pink dresses.”
“Tutus,” Eduardo corrects gently and Mark shrugs. “So, she likes judo?”
“It’s been four months and she’s still excited. Mind you, they’re not doing anything that even resembles judo, if you ask me, it’s kind of like play-acting, but she’s excited.”
Eduardo looks at him for a long moment, long enough for Mark to shuffle his feet a little. “Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Eduardo repeats finally. “I assume all the info is on the sheet and you’ve called ahead to let them know who I am.”
“Yeah. I’ll-- I’ll be here today for the whole day. In my study, that is, I’m not going to hover, she should get used to you, but if you need anything--”
“Alright,” Eduardo nods. “Thank you,” he adds, and it sounds like an approval. Mark supposes the whole thing is going in a weird direction, if he feels like he is getting Eduardo’s approval and not the other way around, but it still feels kind of nice. But he got used to people criticising the way his parental methods, for various reasons. Because he’s a single father and she needs more female influence. Because he works too much. Because he’s Mark and he sometimes forgets to eat or sleep when he’s working, so he couldn’t be taking good care of another human being.
Like it’s not enough that Jess is healthy and happy and mostly well-adjusted. Mark doesn’t get people sometimes.
“Okay. Let’s go back, I’ll show you where we have the stuff for lunch and dinner.”
Jess looks up guiltily when they come in, she’s probably been devouring the cereal straight out of the box, judging by the way her hands are covered in chocolate. “You’ll have carrots for breakfast tomorrow,” Mark threatens and she smiles.
“I like carrots,” she says defiantly. She’s probably confident in knowing Mark could forget the whole thing before tomorrow. Her chances aren’t half bad.
“Foiled again,” Mark mutters. “Broccoli, then. With spinach.”
She nods. “You eat what I eat,” she reminds him serenely, almost reasonably. Chris is a bad influence on her, Mark swears.
“I like broccoli,” Eduardo volunteers and Mark blinks at him. Of course he would.
Mark gets lost in coding for the whole morning and most of the afternoon. He gives up headphones though, just in case. He can’t quite make out what Eduardo and Jess are talking about, but she laughs a few times, and there’s a pretty loud exclamation of ‘rainbow!’ so he has a pretty good idea.
They leave at half past ten and come back for lunch, and in the meantime, Mark gets a text from Janice, one of the mothers from the group. Depending on the day of the week, her son, Paul, is Jess’ best friend or second best friend, after Katie. They live nearby and go to the same park, and Janice was the one to tell Mark about judo classes, and so Mark sees her an awful lot. She’s an annoyingly cheerful person who finds Mark’s acerbic remarks hilarious. Mark kind of likes her, but he’s not about to admit that.
Where have you found that one? He’s adorable.
Seems that Eduardo and Jess made it to the playgroup meeting. Mark should have known there might be some, well, interest. Parents-wise, there are three single moms and Katie’s two dads. And Eduardo looks like Eduardo. Mark shakes his head at the text and ignores Janice, for now at least.
Now, however, he’s been distracted and the code he almost had a grasp on is gone, and instead he’s staring at the screen and clicking through his mail and his newsfeed absently. Somehow it leads him to checking Eduardo Saverin’s facebook page.
It’s uncommonly empty, no pictures aside from the profile photo, clean list of schools and a couple of generic interests. It looks like a placeholder more than anything else. Unhelpful, but contrary to popular opinion, Mark respects those who choose to actually use the privacy options instead of whine about them.
There is, however, something useful about people who disregard such concerns. There’s the Trents’ family album, for example, in which Eduardo is helpfully tagged a couple dozen times, smiling from the edges of the photos. It’s nothing very helpful, except that the pics from the pool party thrown for Hailey’s twelfth birthday attest that Eduardo looks good without a shirt. Still not helpful.
Sometimes during the whole waste of time, Eduardo and Jess come back. Mark’s a little distracted and doesn’t notice, until Eduardo appears in the doorway and coughs politely. Mark guiltily closes the tab, or attempts to and closes the whole browser instead. “Yeah?”
“There’s lunch. Jess says you probably hadn’t eaten, so you should join us.”
“She’s worse than Chris the Food Policeman,” Mark mutters and Eduardo nods.
“She did say Uncle Chris came up with the rules and she’s just enforcing them,” Eduardo nods. “Well, she didn’t say enforce, but I’m hopeful I can introduce it as the word of the day tomorrow.”
Mark looks at him for a moment and shakes his head. “I don’t think I really understand you,” he tells Eduardo.
“Good, that’s my general aim. Come on, lunch is ready.”
It’s also disgustingly healthy, which doesn’t seem to bother Jess, perhaps because Eduardo made hedgehogs out of vegetables. Mark thinks about pointing out that those are for eating, not playing, but the hedgehogs look kind of colorful and fun.
“I made this one, Wardo showed me how,” Jess says, pointing at the one of the hedgehogs, a little lopsided but altogether reasonably well done. Mark nods and tells her it’s brilliant, but there’s one thing he can’t quite understand.
“Eduardo,” Jess says, stressing the last part of the name, in the ‘duh’ tone of voice. “Wardo,” she explains.
“I got that,” he nods. “But why?”
“Because he doesn’t look like an Ed,” Jess explains. Mark supposes there’s that.
“You can’t deny the logic in that,” Eduardo volunteers, perfectly serious. “I don’t feel like an Ed either.”
“How do you know if you feel like an Ed?”
“When I have a particularly bad Monday...” Eduardo shrugs and Mark can’t help it, he snorts.
He doesn’t like nicknames in general, doesn’t see the point. But he has to admit, Wardo suits him, it’s warm and kind of nice. Fits a little too well, maybe, because while it’s fine for Jess to use it, it might be overstepping the boundaries if Mark slips and calls Eduardo that. Not that he intends to, of course, and not that he’ll be spending a lot of time in Eduardo’s presence anyway. That’s the point of Eduardo being here, when Mark is not.
So, there’s no problem at all. “It suits you,” Mark agrees finally and doesn’t look up. The hedgehods stare at him doubtfully from the neat rows on the plate, damn the little things.
He’s not even sure when Eduardo becomes a permanent fixture, when the trial period Mark is used to exercise with all the nannies passes or blurs away.
It’s not that he even sees a lot of Eduardo as it is. He’s pretty sure he saw more of Sandra or Grace on the daily basis, possibly because they took steps to make him notice them.
Eduardo’s whole attention is on Jess, as it should be, though he takes time to bug Mark about eating proper breakfast and taking lunch with him.
“Gourmet restaurant right there at the office,” Mark informs him.
“So I’ve been told. Have you been there since it opened?” Eduardo asks pleasantly and closes the lunch box with a snap. Mark has a split second to glance inside and see that it’s the damn rice and vegetables again, because Jess been enamoured with Ghibli lately, which led to Japanese food, which lead to packed Bento lunches, and now Mark opens his lunch box at work and finds rice made up to look like little pandas.
And he always opens the damn box, because it’s there, and the cafeteria is too far away, and so is the minifridge on the opposite side of his office, and he has the lunch box or the red bull in the bottom drawer to choose from. And the rice pandas always win, because they are somehow really, really tasty.
And Eduardo always packs a few twizzlers as well, even though, he says, they clash with his vision.
“We could paint them over with food colouring, they could be bamboo,” Jess perks up. Her lunch is made up to look like some cartoon cats from whatever thing she watches now. She’s taken to googling various lunch boxes ideas and making Eduardo try them out with her.
“I draw the line at pretend bamboo,” Mark mutters darkly and Eduardo nods at him.
“I agree. If you were to draw the line, this is right where you should do it.”
Most of the time Mark’s pretty sure Eduardo’s mocking him, but he has no tangible proof.
Especially since, as he was saying, they don’t spend much time in each other’s company. Something like half an hour in the morning, after Eduardo arrives and before Mark leaves, and maybe some time in the evening, after Mark gets home and listens to Jess telling him everything about her day. At the beginning Eduardo at least attempted to leave quickly, but Mark usually told him to stop the nonsense and stay for dinner, unless he had other plans. That happened sometimes but rarely, and soon it became a habit, that Eduardo would stay longer.
He doesn’t think that it’s something strange, at least not until Lisa stops by his office one evening when he’s engrossed in coding and frowns at him. “You’re still here?” she asks and that’s most unusual, because normally it’s a different tone. You’re still here? said like Jesus, Mark, it’s two am, go home and take us all out of our misery. He remembers those.
This, however, is You’re still here? in a slightly surprised voice, like Oh, I thought you went home already.
Mark glances at the clock. It’s a little past five. “When was the last time I’ve left office this early?” he asks her. It’s supposed to be rhetorical, but she shrugs at him.
That can’t be right, Mark thinks. Except he got home and they had dinner, and still had time to watch a Pixar movie, after Jess roped Eduardo into staying.
“It’s the pout,” Eduardo explained guiltily. “And the curls. You’re going to be in so much trouble when she grows up, she’ll have boys queueing around the block.”
“She gets the curls from me,” Mark muttered absently, trying to skip the piracy warning on the completely legal copy of the movie. People who came up with that were idiots. “They’re really impossible to manage, she’ll hate that,” he added. He’s heard women complaining about their hair for hours on end, after all. And while he didn’t care, he did realise his own hair would sooner stage an uprising than give in to hair products and look as well as some other people’s, not to point fingers, but for example those sitting on his couch right now.
Eduardo cleared his throat, like he wanted to say something, but Jess entered the room, waving a pack of microwavable popcorn. “Salted,” she said. She’s been trying to choose between that and caramel for just about ten minutes.
“I’ll make it,” Eduardo offered and followed Mark’s daughter to the kitchen and Mark looked up, trying to figure out why there was laughter in Eduardo’s voice.
“Yes, fine, yesterday,” Mark says now. “It’s still...”
“Okay, that was unusually early, but not that surprising, considering,” Lisa interrupts him. “These past three weeks you hadn’t stayed longer than seven on any day, not even on Thursday, when we’ve had all that stuff going on with notifications. I’ve figured you’re spending more time with Jess, but there’s an office pool going about you actually dating someone secretly.”
“Tell Dustin to stop running office pools,” Mark tells her automatically. “And what’s wrong with spending more time with Jess?” he asks. It might have come out a little defensive for some reason.
“Nothing,” Lisa shrugs. “It’s sweet. And I know she’s supposed to start school next year, so sure you’d want to be around more now, before she decides you’re too uncool to hang around.”
“I’ve invented facebook,” Mark reminds her dryly and she nods.
“Yeah. But what have you done lately?” she asks and Mark can’t help it, he snorts and shakes his head at her wry delivery. “So, are you going home or not? I was going to leave you these documents to sign tomorrow, but if you’re staying...”
He eyes the stack in her arms and reaches to turn his laptop off. “Leaving,” he decides. If he goes now, there’ll be time to watch How To Train Your Dragon after dinner.
The thought gives him a slight pause, especially paired with the actual low excitement at the prospect. He’s not sure when the movie nights at home became appealing, he wasn’t particularly excited about movies ever since probably college and the Star Wars drinking games.
“You’re smiling,” Lisa informs him, her tone something closer to you have dirt on your face, like he should check that. When he looks at her, she shrugs, a smile of her own threatening to break out. “Good night, Mr Zuckerberg,” she adds.
There’s something in her tone that makes Mark worried, like she’s figured something out and he’s not going to like it, or like she’s planning something. But he doesn’t really have time to ponder that one right now.
Mark starts to think he might be in trouble after the whole puppy debacle.
It goes something like this: Katie’s fathers buy her a puppy. Obviously, Jess decides she wants one too. Mark thinks ugly thoughts about Katie’s fathers.
She can be sneaky when she wants something badly, so for a few days it’s hints and tales about Katie’s puppy, and Eduardo spends more and more time shaking his head, until he plainly asks Mark if he’s oblivious to what’s going on.
“I’m hoping she’ll get distracted before she gets around to actually asking.”
No such luck.
“No,” he shakes his head. “Maybe when you’re older,” he adds, to soften the blow, but her eyes are already big and watery and fuck.
It’s not that he can’t say no to his own kid. You’d think Jessica Zuckerberg would be spoiled rotten, with his resources and occasional guilt-fuelled online shopping sprees when he comes to the conclusion that he works too much, but he knows the limits and he can actually draw the line at the unreasonable. And a puppy would be unreasonable, at least at the moment.
“You’ll start school soon. And I’m at work most of the day, who’d take care of it?”
“Wardo,” Jess says reasonably, like it makes perfect sense.
“Eduardo isn’t here all the time either,” Mark tells her, ignoring the sharp sting of... something, in the general area of his chest. “No, Jess, and that’s final,” he adds and glances at his watch. “I need to get to work, I have a meeting. Be nice for Eduardo,” he tells her and she nods slowly and doesn’t look up. It makes Mark feel like a monster, but he’s right about the puppy and he does have the shareholders’ meeting.
“Lunch,” Eduardo reminds him, pushing the box into his hands.
“I--” Mark starts and waves in Jess’ direction. “She--”
“Damage control, on it,” Eduardo assures him. “Go, you don’t need to be late on top of that expression, that won’t look good.”
“Thank you,” he says sincerely, with relief. Eduardo nods and reaches out to squeeze Mark’s shoulder, a gesture of reassurance, but Mark goes to work still feeling warmth emanating from the point of contact.
This is a good thing. The rest of it, still feeling bad over Jess and the puppy, that makes his day extremely sucky, at least until Lisa pokes her head in around lunchtime and tells him he has an appointment.
“I’m pretty sure I don’t.”
“I’m pretty sure you want to take this one,” she shoots right back and doesn’t wait for affirmation or any sort of response before stepping back. Mark seriously doesn’t get any respect, he blames Dustin’s influence.
“Wardo?” he asks when Eduardo enters the office, holding the door for Jess. Eduardo smiles at him gently and tilts his head, indicating Jess.
“Miss Zuckerberg has a proposition for you,” he offers seriously, still holding the door open. “But if I could have a word first?”
Mark nods dumbly and follows him outside. “What’s going on?”
“She’s been moping for most of the morning,” Eduardo shrugs. “I think you’re right about the dog, but we’ve come up with an alternate plan. A compromise, if you would.”
“A compromise,” Mark says doubtfully and Eduardo shrugs again, running his hand through his hair. He’s nervous, Mark suddenly realises, worried that maybe Mark would be angry at this. That’s not... Mark can’t imagine being angry at Wardo.
“If I overstepped--”
“Let’s hear it, okay?” Mark says and tries to offer a reassuring smile. He probably doesn’t succeed well. “What is it, Jess?” he asks, walking back in and she clears her throat, in a good attempt at mimicking what Mark heard Eduardo do.
“Dogs need time and attention,” she says. Or recites, like she’s been practicing. “But, cats.”
Eduardo covers his mouth, trying to hold back a smile. “Cats can stay on their own,” he prompts.
“For a long time,” Jess nods, beaming, happy that she remembered. Then she seems to realise she was supposed to be serious. “Nine hours long. If we get a kitten, I promise to take care of it. We’ve made a chart,” she adds and hands Mark a piece of cardboard.
Mark peers at it. It’s done in green crayon on red paper and makes his eyes hurt, but it’s actually quite reasonable, once he makes out the words. Times of feeding and roster of cleaning the littler box. And three kittens drawn at the bottom of the card.
“We’re not getting three kittens,” he warns her.
“But can we get one? They’re quiet and don’t need to be walked and they can stay alone at home. They like staying alone at home.”
“But someone needs to look after it when it’s little,” Mark tells her. “I’m not at home enough,” he adds and immediately follows it with “I’m sorry” because he knows it’s a failing on his part.
“I’m at home with Jess,” Eduardo offers gently. “If you decide to take in a kitten-- It’s no trouble,” he says and looks at Mark seriously. “Of course, I’ve warned Jess you might be allergic, or she might be. It’s quite common.”
“Lots of people are allergic to cats,” Jess nods, like she’s heard it a few times today. This is Eduardo giving him a clear way out, if Mark doesn’t like the idea. It’s clever, which Mark appreciates, but it’s also cautious. It’s what a good nanny would do, respecting the boundaries, and Mark isn’t quite sure why he’s not as pleased with that as he should.
“If Wardo is fine with helping you look after it, then we can pick up a kitten during the weekend,” he says finally. Jess squeal when she launches herself at him is deafening, and she’s hugging him hard in a second. “Thanks,” Mark mouths at Eduardo.
If Jess’ squeal was deafening, then Eduardo’s grin is blinding and Mark smiles back helplessly, automatically. The warm feeling caused by Eduardo’s touch in the morning was nothing compared to the heat pooling in his stomach right now and he blinks slowly, surprised but not quite.
This could be seriously inconvenient, he thinks.
The kitten is tiny and white and gray, with blue eyes. It loves Jess and, predictably, also decides that Eduardo is the best thing ever. Mark’s only annoyed by how unsurprising that is.
Jess calls the kitten Princess Leia and wants to take her everywhere, even to the judo classes. It takes Eduardo some time to dissuade her from that notion. Jess keeps her promise about taking care of the kitten, she’s fairly good at remembering to feed (or overfeed) it, and while she’s less eager to clean the litter box, Eduardo makes sure the roster is maintained.
Leia tolerates Mark, most of the time, perking up only when it can attack Mark’s feet or curl up against the warmth of his laptop, but the kitten also decides that Mark’s hoodies’ pockets are awesome to sleep in in the evening, when they’re all watching movies, and wiggles her way in, her head always in Eduardo’s direction, so she can watch him sleepily.
Once in a while she stretches and meows to get Eduardo’s attention and Wardo reaches out absently and pets her head and she purrs happily.
Considering that the damn cat is still practically in Mark’s lap and Eduardo’s petting it... Well, you can bring out your own damn jokes, Mark’s own brain has given in and given up. The cat is obviously a spawn of Satan.
“She’s asleep,” Eduardo says and Mark glances down at the cat automatically, but obviously, Eduardo means Jessica. Mark starts to try and extricate himself but Eduardo shakes his head. “I got it,” he says quietly and picks Jess up. She mutters something into his neck and holds on automatically.
The kitten quickly decides she doesn’t like it one bit when she can’t keep her eye on Eduardo and crawls out of Mark’s pocket and scrambles off the couch, following Eduardo. Mark rolls his eyes at himself and follows too, moving to stand quietly in the doorway as Eduardo puts Jess to bed and tucks her in carefully.
“Night, queridinha,” he says gently and brushes her curls away from her forehead and she mutters something back, half-asleep.
Mark’s stomach tightens painfully and for a short moment he has trouble breathing, surprised at how much he can want something that he doesn’t even think is possible, attainable. Eduardo straightens up and looks at Mark, still smiling softly. Mark’s not sure what to say, even though there are words pushing at his lips, waiting to spill out. He’s not sure what he would say, if Leia didn’t choose right that moment to attack his ankles.
“Fuck,” he mutters.
“Language,” Eduardo admonishes him laughingly and pushes him out of the room. “And quiet, she’s already asleep.”
“She doesn’t wake up that easily,” Mark shrugs and stuffs his hands into his hoodie’s pocket. It’s warm, after Leia made it her bed. “Do you want to finish the movie?” he asks and Eduardo looks at him like he’s crazy.
“Do you know how many times I’ve seen Wall-E by now?”
Jess loves this movie. She went through a phase when she wanted to watch it every day, right after it came out on dvd. “Well into double digits?” Mark guesses and Eduardo nods.
“Don’t tell anyone, but I might hate Pixar,” he admits, and he sounds so serious, like he’s divulging a grave secret, right there in Mark’s darkened corridor. He’s leaning in conspirationally, his eyes huge and Disney-like, and telling Mark he hates Pixar, like he hadn’t been watching all those animated movies with them for months and when Mark laughs there might be a hysterical edge to it.
“I won’t tell anyone,” Mark promises and Eduardo nods his thanks before glancing at his watch.
“I should be going,” he says, and there’s a long pause before he moves, before he does anything, and only later, only after Eduardo is actually gone, Mark realises he could have filled it with stay. He’s not quite sure what would come after, though, so he tries not to dwell on that missed moment.
Leia curls up against his laptop that night and stares at him incredulously, like she’s judging Mark.
“What are you doing here?” Mark asks when he comes home and Dustin is sprawled out on the living room’s floor, Leia sitting on his chest. They’re apparently having a staring contest.
His question probably seems rude out of context. It’s rude within context too, but Dustin knows better than hold it against him. “What, a guy can’t visit his niece?”
“She’s not your niece,” Mark corrects automatically.
“His favorite niece?”
“You don’t have other nieces.”
“Other nieces? So you admit Jess is my niece?” Dustin grins happily and rubs Leia’s head affectionately. “I’ve forgotten you’ve had that meeting today,” he adds, more seriously. “Thankfully, Officer Saverin was home to let me in. Eventually.”
Mark raises his eyebrows at Wardo, who shrugs. “He was on your approved list.”
“Which wasn’t enough,” Dustin adds and sits up, helping the kitten slide down into his lap. It immediately tries to climb its way onto Dustin’s shoulder, or his head. “I’ve had to show my id. And then Wardo here called Lisa to make sure I was who I was saying I was.”
“Your id picture is downright awful,” Eduardo tells him flatly.
“And your daughter here wasn’t helping at all. She said she wasn’t sure I was Uncle Dustin, because Uncle Dustin was taller. Just because she grew a five or six inches from the last time I’ve seen her...”
“Five or six inches?” Mark asks.
“Okay, half an inch,” Dustin gives in.
“The notches on the doorframe beg to differ,” Eduardo interjects helpfully.
“And you,” Dustin points his finger at Eduardo. “You saw me at facebook offices. Repeatedly.”
Eduardo shrugs and brushes something invisible off his sleeve. “What can I say, you’re just not that memorable.”
“Which is why you made me sit on the doorstep for something like half an hour,” he shakes his head and turns to Mark. “I didn’t mind only because he brought me cookies and a soda, so I wouldn’t get hungry while I waited for him to call Lisa. And maybe the FBI. I’ve been fingerprinted,” he adds, waving his hand. His fingertips are dark green.
Mark holds back a snort, even as something sticks in his throat. He’s... fuck, he’s actually happy Eduardo gets along with his friends, that’s a new level of pathetic, especially combined with a slightest pang of jealousy because Eduardo gets along with Dustin, and Mark kind of wants his whole attention to himself. And Jess. And fine, Leia, provided it keeps Eduardo here, in this house.
He wants to be the one to tease Eduardo and be the only one who gets to call him Wardo, affectionate and familiar. Well, him and Jess.
“What’s Jess doing?” he asks, looking at her. She’s sitting cross-legged by the coffee table, hard at work on... something. She has a pencil in her hair and is biting her lip in concentration as she’s cutting something out with those plastic safe scissors for kids that are really useless for actual cutting of anything.
“She’s making a fake id,” Eduardo says, like that’s normal.
Mark nods, because it sort of makes sense. “Out of the cardboard from the cereal box? Sorry to break it to you, kid, but you don’t look a thing like that snowflake tiger.”
“It’s for Uncle Dustin,” Jess explains.
“That’s why I’ve been fingerprinted,” Dustin adds.
“And the tiger looks more like Dustin than Dustin’s actual id picture,” Eduardo finishes, his lips twitching. He looks at Mark and tilts his head. “You haven’t eaten, have you?”
“I’ve had a meeting,” Mark says defensively.
“You’ve had a lunch meeting and you haven’t eaten. Of course,” he mutters, somehow fondly, unless Mark’s imagining things, and stands up. “There’s some fruit salad left. And yes, it’s a salad, and yes, you’ll eat it,” he adds and heads towards the kitchen.
“Man, seriously,” Dustin says when Wardo disappears in the kitchen and Mark glances back at him.
Dustin shakes his head. “Nothing. Except it’s both painful and hilarious to watch,” he says, lowering his voice a little. “But, we should invite Wardo to halo night at Chris’. It works better with four people and frankly, Wardo is kind of awesome.”
“Why are you calling him Wardo?” Mark asks tersely and Dustin doesn’t even blink at the abruptness.
“Jess was right, he doesn’t look like an Ed,” he explains. Mark frowns, because that’s not what he meant. “Eduardo should come over.”
“One problem with that,” Mark shrugs. “If I’m over at Chris’, I need someone to look after Jess.”
“I’m the nanny,” Eduardo points out, handing Mark the plate. He sits down on the floor and sets down a can of Red Bull and a pack of crisps next to his thigh. “You’ll get these after you’re done with the healthy option.”
Mark gives him a look but digs into the plate without a word, making his point mostly by stabbing the fruit on his plate with the fork.
“Okay,” Dustin says slowly. “We’re moving halo nights here, then,” he decides brightly.
“Do I have a choice?” Mark asks and Dustin shrugs.
Yeah, feels like the general theme lately.
“Can I ask you something?” he asks Lisa a few days later, as she’s pointing out the papers he absolutely needs to sign. He still doesn’t get how an internet company can generate that amount of paperwork.
She looks up and must see something in his face, because she doesn’t even make a crack, just sighs, steps back, and moves to close the door of his office. “Okay.”
“I’m only asking you because I can’t ask Dustin. Or Chris,” he mutters and she tilts her head. He shouldn’t have said that.
“Are you asking me because I’m a girl, Mark? Is that it?” she asks with a suspiciously cheerful smile and Mark eyes her for a long moment.
“If I say I’m asking you because you’re a woman, would that get me hit over the head?”
She frowns. “Seriously? Okay, are you having women trouble? I know you know how sex works, I’ve seen your daughter, so it can’t be that.”
“Thanks,” Mark mutters.
“Flowers always work, whatever you’ve fucked up,” she tells him and Mark rolls his eyes.
“Lisa,” he warns her and she sits down on his desk.
“That serious, huh?”
He sighs. He doesn't want to talk about this, at all, but he probably needs to, needs someone to tell him he’s not crazy. Or that he is crazy and to give it up. His sisters had never met Eduardo, and he can’t ask Dustin, and Chris would just be concerned and possibly tell Dustin anyway... Lisa is his best bet, she’s a little like his sisters in the way she goes from concern to teasing him, and maybe she has some good ideas. Any ideas.
“Remember how I needed for the nannies to stop hitting on me?”
She blinks at him. “Yeah?”
“Well, how do I-- the other way around. How do I--”
He can see when she gets it, her whole face brightening up. And then, Mark kids you not, she claps her hand, like a little girl, excited. “You’re hot for Wardo,” she announces, delighted.
“Can everyone please stop calling him that?”
“Jesus, Mark. You make me hire a male nanny so he doesn’t hit on you, and then you want him to hit on you?”
Mark hates his life. “Pretty much.”
“I’d ask when your life had become a lifetime movie, but I have a pretty good idea,” she shakes her head. “So, what are you doing about it?”
“Of course,” she mutters.
“Not like I can do anything. He works for me. I’ve been to the workshops, asking him to sleep with me would be frowned upon.”
“It probably would, if you phrased it exactly like that,” she informs him. “Is that what this is about? You want to sleep with Eduardo?”
“No, but I’ve figured that asking him to move in before I even ask him out would be a little too forward.”
“You could just start with asking him to marry you,” she suggests and then breathes in when Mark startles, a helpless want resonating inside his chest. “Oh, Mark,” she mutters. “Mark, just ask him out. I’m pretty sure he won’t sue you for sexual harassment.”
“No. But he might leave,” Mark points out quietly. “What the fuck do I do if he leaves? What do I do when he leaves?”
She looks at him for a moment and then stands up. “I’m going to hug you now. Don’t panic,” she mutters. He lets her pull him up and put her arms around him. “You can always fire him, and then ask him out,” she mutters into the side of Mark’s neck and he snorts.
“Your ideas suck,” he informs her.
She steps back and grin. “At least something does.”
“Go the fuck away, please,” he mutters. “I’m regretting even mentioning this to you.”
“No, you’re not,” she tells him. “I’m in your corner, Zuckerberg. If you need someone to lock the two of you in the supply closet, or something.”
“You’ve clearly lied on your resume about your skills in problem solving,” he mutters. “But thanks.”