.that shines like gold
[the social network. chris hughes/dustin moskovitz, mark zuckerberg/eduardo saverin. pg. 2,549 words. for hapakitsune.]
chris is called to give his deposition. he almost reveals more than eduardo and mark are hoping.
disclaimer; i am writing about mark zuckerberg and eduardo saverin (and other characters) as presented in the movie the social network. this is no way about the real people. also; i do not own the social network. this is for love and not profit
notes; haha. hapakitsune, this was going to be in time for your birthday but obviously, i got the day wrong so. have it a day late! i hope it's what you wanted. sorry it's melancholy LOL.
“Mr Hughes - may I call you Chris?”
Eduardo’s lawyer, Gretchen, was looking at him with the fake smile she had been wearing all day, even when addressing Eduardo. Her nail polish was bright and ridiculous against the table. It was immaculate and fresh; obviously not someone who was used to using her hands. He wondered if she had calluses on her fingers from continuous typing at a keyboard or suffered paper cuts from studying pages and pages of economics text. He wondered if she cared about numbers and algorithms and how they fit into life, or if she had a best friend who needed her to make sure that they ate and drank and went to bed.
He wondered if she even cared who Eduardo and Mark really were or if it was just the big fat cheque she would be receiving in the end.
Chris folded his hands on the table in front of him. He wasn’t trying to be difficult but he was angry and it was hard to reign it in. Eduardo wasn’t looking at him and Mark hadn’t stopped doodling on the pad of paper in front of him. Chris wanted to shake them because what the hell was the point in this if neither of them was going to pay attention?
The whole thing was a farce.
Chris didn’t like being stuck in the middle but this was important and he had been telling Dustin this over and over. It wasn’t as though anything Chris had to stay would make a difference to either side but he had been called to give a deposition and he wasn’t going to lie. He didn’t want it to cost him anything even though he knew that he was already losing one friend; losing another wasn’t an option.
“Mr. Hughes, were you aware of a conversation that took place between Mr. Saverin and Mr. Zuckerberg during a -”
Chris let her talk herself into a question. He didn’t even want to be here. Couldn’t she see that?
“- because Mr. Saverin had been ‘punched’ by the Phoenix club?”
Chris frowned. “Mark called Eduardo outside but I wasn’t present for the conversation after they left the building.”
He vaguely remembered Mark coming in and catching Eduardo’s attention. As Eduardo walked away, shimmying, Chris remembered checking him out and then turning back to Dustin with a laugh but he didn’t know what conversation they has had. He hadn’t been present for any of the conversations and he wasn’t really sorry. It was bad enough recounting FaceMash and their night of coding and the derogatory attitude towards the girls in the dorms. He was aware of Eduardo pumping money into the company and Mark taking advantage, Mark always taking advantage, but he had always just assumed that it would work itself out; that Eduardo would wise up or that they were both aware and had come to some sort of - well, agreement. It had always just been the way Eduardo and Mark were. Chris had never tried - or cared to - explain it.
“Were you aware that Mr. Saverin had been putting money into the company?”
“Of course,” Chris said, resisting the urge to clench his fists. He rested them on the table, palm down. “Mark asked, Eduardo handed over the money.”
“Would you say that Mr. Zuckerberg was taking advantage of Eduardo?”
Mark shifted in his seat and Chris could see the lawyer - Sy? - about to speak but he leaned forward, staring down at his hands. “That’s just how Mark and Eduardo always are - or were.”
“One took and the other gave?”
“No,” Chris said, looking up at Gretchen angrily. “You don’t know what it was like. They were - they worked that way. I guess it can’t have been easy on Eduardo and it wasn’t like he deserved it or anything. We expected - but it was just, Mark and Eduardo were just that way.”
“You said ‘we expected’. You expected what?”
Chris tapped his fingers against the table. “We expected fallout. Mark wasn’t the kind of person who noticed things easily. You couldn’t hint or beat around the bush; if you didn’t make your point clear or well enough, Mark would tune out and stop listening. Eduardo knew that better than any of us and if he’d wanted Mark to know, than he would have said something.”
“Wanted Mark to know what?”
Ignoring Gretchen, Chris stared at Eduardo who was looking back, eyes wide and dark. He was tense and angry but Chris didn’t know if that was because of what he was saying or because he was just angry at everything. Mark’s pen had stopped scratching against the paper.
Eduardo leaned across to Gretchen, whispering in her ear and at her frown, Chris knew he had just asked her to stop this. Chris didn’t know if he wanted to, not know. Let them all know what this lawsuit was really about.
“Why he always gave and let Mark take. Why we were all waiting for fallout. Why it was always going to end in disaster, even if we had all willed ourselves into believing it wouldn’t.”
“Stop,” Mark said, fists clenched on the table in front of him. He wasn’t staring at Chris, though, but at Eduardo. “This doesn’t matter. It doesn’t - it has nothing to do with Facebook or what happened at the end.”
Eduardo flinched but he was still tense and staring at Chris, betrayed.
Sy interrupted again. “I don’t see what any of this has to do with the lawsuit, Gretchen. If Mr. Hughes knew all along that something was going to happen and didn’t step in to stop Mr. Saverin abandoning my client, then-”
“He didn’t abandon me,” Mark said, voice so quiet in the room that Chris almost didn’t hear him.
Chris knew that his deposition wasn’t turning out quite the way anybody had hoped but that was what they should have expected. This wasn’t just a lawsuit about Facebook and who deserved to have a claim to it; this was a lawsuit about a friendship that had snapped under the weight of expectation and neglect. About a friendship that was something more until both Mark and Eduardo had taken it for granted and stopped working at it.
“You always had to make everything so difficult,” Chris said, not caring if they both thought he was talking to them. In truth, he didn’t even know. “It could have been alright if you’d just talked to each other.”
There was silence again and Chris was angry. Angry that he had been dragged into this, angry that Dustin was going to be forced to do this, angry about everything.
“I don’t know what you’re expecting me to say,” he snapped. “I don’t know what I can say that you shouldn’t already have figured out for yourselves. They weren’t just friends. This was never going to be clean cut and normal. Look, I just want to - can I please go the bathroom?”
He could feel Mark and Eduardo looking at him and it was uncomfortable and hot and suffocating. He just wanted to get out.
“Sure,” Gretchen said with an almost genuine smile this time. “Take five.”
“Excuse me,” Chris said, retreating to the safety of the bathroom.
He pressed his hands to the sink and bent his head forward, closing his eyes. This was turning into one of the worst days he had ever experienced and he was hating every moment of it. It was hard to sit across from Eduardo and watch him, eyes dark and haunted, as Chris recounted everything that had happened. Chris wasn’t around for anything in California, not really, but he knew enough from Dustin to know what that must have cost Eduardo and what it was still costing Mark. He knew what it was going to cost him and what it was going to cost Dustin. Most of all, he didn’t know where to go from here.
“Why did you say that?”
Chris looked up from the sink and stared at the line of Mark’s body against the white tile. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Mark’s face. What the hell did they want from him?
“Eduardo and I - You’re making this into something it’s not.”
“You brought me here,” Chris snapped. “You wanted my deposition, I’m giving it. You can’t stand there and accuse me of lying when I’m the only one that’s told the truth so far. Maybe we should talk about the times that you fucked back in Harvard, would that make a difference?”
Mark’s jaw tightened and he clenched his fists by his sides but he didn’t say anything.
“An omission isn’t a total lie. If you want me to tell the whole truth and nothing but then I’ll tell them everything, Mark. It’s up to you. Do you want them to know just how friendly you were in Harvard? The best friends thing is fucking priceless. Eduardo would have spun gold for you, you bastard.”
His eyes were hard and cold but Chris could see the muscle working in Mark’s jaw and his words were sinking in. Good.
“What do you want me to do?”
“It wouldn’t look good for Eduardo,” Mark said at last.
Chris laughed but it was hollow. There was more self preservation in his tone than anything on Eduardo’s behalf but Chris believed that it was there somewhere. The attraction - and feelings - hadn’t been completely one sided.
“Of course not,” Chris said, and left the bathroom.
Outside, Eduardo was standing against the wall and Chris snorted.
“If you do this to Dustin, I will never forgive you. Do you understand me?”
Eduardo straightened almost immediately. “Chris-”
“No, I’m not fucking around, Eduardo. You can do this to me because I’m so angry right now that I don’t care, but if you make Dustin do this and you make him lie, I will never forgive you.”
The door to the bathroom opened and Mark hovered in the doorway. Chris didn’t doubt that he had heard everything.
“I don’t care if you need to fight about this to feel better about your decision, Mark, or if you need to make Mark see how much of an asshole he is, Eduardo, but don’t do this to Dustin. He is not going to be able to lie for you. He will them that you were intimate in college. He will tell them you thought Mark hung the moon.”
He turned to Mark.
“He will tell them that you cared about Eduardo more than you will ever admit to. He will blame Sean Parker and he will make you both seem jealous and angry and he will force them to see that this is more divorce settlement than an argument over shares, money and Facebook.”
“Dustin’s a programmer. They’re going to want to talk to him,” Mark said, like he had deliberately not heard anything Chris said.
“Why? Are they going to want to talk to Sean Parker? Peter Theil? There is no way that anything Dustin has to say is going to change what’s happening here. You’re so intent on screwing up your own lives that you don’t care that we’re suffering too.”
Eduardo looked shamefaced but Mark still looked defiant. Chris shook his head.
“I’m going home and telling Dustin that he doesn’t have to come into this place tomorrow.”
“No, Mark. Feel free to say whatever you have to but I’m not lying for you and Dustin is incapable of doing it when he thinks he might be helping you. Ruin your own lives but don’t drag us into it.”
Chris turned his back on them and left. He would get over his anger and he would apologise to both Mark and Eduardo eventually. He would never forgive them but that didn’t mean he wanted to hate them. They were his friends and they always would be, even if they couldn’t find some middle ground where they could work out their differences. His protection of Dustin was a little extreme but they didn’t see the way Dustin spent hours staring at his computer screen, twirling the post-its through his fingers and talking about finding a way to tell the truth at the depositions without hurting Mark or Eduardo. He was the one trying to save them both when neither of them wanted to be saved.
Pushing open the door to his apartment, Chris dropped the keys onto the table in the hall and smiled when he caught sight of Dustin sprawled out on his sofa. He leaned against the Island in the kitchen and stared at Dustin’s sleeping face. As if sensing him there, Dustin snorted and turned onto his back, waking as he did so. He tipped his head back so that he could see Chris standing in the kitchen and grinned.
“Hey.” He rubbed a hand over his face and stretched out, exposing a hint of skin as his t-shirt rode up his body. Chris swallowed as Dustin climbed off of the sfoa and stood there, in the middle of Chris’s living room, too short track pants and a dated t-shirt. Chris cared about what happened between Mark and Eduardo, of course he did, but not enough that he would let them treat Dustin like he was just a means to an end.
Dustin crossed the distance between them and folded his arms around Chris’s neck. His long fingers teased the hairs at the nape of Chris’s neck. “What happened?”
Chris shrugged and tipped his head forward until their foreheads were touching. “You don’t have to go in tomorrow.”
Dustin just let out a breath. “Is that because I’m too awesome for one room to contain?”
Snorting, Chris rested his hands on Dustin’s hips and squeezed. “They honestly can’t even see what they’re doing. It was horrible.”
“They would have made me wear a suit,” Dustin said, shifting until he could kiss the corner of Chris’s mouth. Chris didn’t know what he was talking about but he let Dustin finish. “It was going to be hot and stupid and they would ask questions. “
“That’s generally what happens at depositions.”
“Chris,” Dustin said, touching a finger to his lips. “I would have told them that Eduardo loved Mark and that Mark would have loved Eduardo back eventually. I would have told them that we did that because we are the best roommates in the world and clearly, we know how to match make with a badassery surpassed only by Cupid.”
“We were wrong,” Chris whispered, pushing Dustin’s finger away from his face. Sometimes he hated Dustin’s moments of clarity; they came at the worst times and they didn’t help. What good could they possibly do now that Eduardo and Mark weren’t even willing to work at this?
“No. They were wrong and one day they’ll realise it.”
If they can’t have forever,” Chris said, looking Dustin in the eye, “What do we have?”
“We have now,” Dustin said, kissing Chris full on the lips. “You have me.”
Chris smiled against Dustin’s lips and held on.