.the state we were in
[the social network. eduardo saverin/mark zuckerberg. 2,541 words. teen. written for this prompt at the kink meme.]
in which chris manages to get through to mark (but not about his insecurities because he doesn't have those) and eduardo comes home
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; ugh, chris is so awesome. i blame hapakitsune for being willing to talk to me until the end of time about how much chris hughes wins the universe. the end.
Chris asks why.
He’s the only one brave enough to do so, standing in Mark’s office like he fucking owns it and wearing an expression that’s equal parts angry, annoyed and pitying. It’s the last that makes Mark start because fuck, he doesn’t need anyone’s pity. He looks back down at his laptop and doesn’t reply, even when Chris repeats the question. He doesn’t owe Chris anything just because he wasn’t around for the floor show. Mark’s not stupid; Chris is the one who’s going to clean up Sean’s mess and he’ll be the one to clean up Mark’s, too, but that doesn’t give him the right to judge Mark for this. Nobody can judge Mark for this.
He’s startled out of his thoughts by his chair spinning around. Chris has his hands knuckle-white against the arms of Mark’s chair and his eyes are dark and angry when he says, “Tell me or I walk the fuck out of here right now.”
As much as it’s galling to admit, Mark has lost Eduardo; he isn’t going to - can’t - lose Chris and Dustin as well. He turns his face away but makes an expression that must be achingly familiar to them by now. Self-deprecation, self-loathing, whatever they want to call it. It’s not, not entirely, because Mark doesn’t care enough for either of those to be true but it’s close enough. He wants to tell Chris to back off, he wants to shut the door to his office and to the world and bury himself in coding for the next thirty eight hours just to keep it’s like I’m not a part of Facebook out of his mind. Eduardo’s voice breaking, eyes wet and - fuck, Mark thinks and says, “He was always going to leave.”
He drags the admission out of somewhere, buried deep and tight. He compartmentalizes like nobody else but even he doesn’t know everything he has locked up tight.
Chris stares at him. His eyes don’t widen, he doesn’t swallow, he just stares. It’s the lack of surprise that throws Mark off of his stride and he shrugs. It doesn’t matter. Chris can’t-
“Mark,” Chris says, voice clear and loud. “How did you get this so fucking wrong?”
Mark’s loathe to call it a relationship even with Chris sitting on the other side of his desk, cradling a mug. He’s not looking at Mark’s face but studying his hands intently. Mark knows what he’s doing but doesn’t call him on it. “He’s gone. I just have to deal with it. He wanted gone, and I’ve done it for him.”
“He wasn’t-” Chris says, an expression of incredulity on his face.
“It was never about whether I was good enough for him,” Mark snaps, one hand on his laptop.
“I didn’t ask.” Chris is staring at him, face a mask of composure but Mark’s learnt enough to be able to read him. He knows he’s just revealed more than he wanted to.
Mark shrugs. “He didn’t come out in the summer. He wanted something else. It wasn’t me.”
Chris runs a hand over his face. Mark’s used to cataloguing his reactions to everything Mark does and says and he’s aware, on the periphery, that sometimes Chris finds it increasingly difficult to be both friend and subordinate. He wonders vaguely when Chris is going to leave. It’s always going to be when and not if. When he’s being honest, Mark would rather have friend than Chris in his office. Eduardo says fraying at the edges when Mark brings it up, (used to bring it up) before the dilution and the separation and everything in between. He still thinks of it as an adequate description; Chris looks tired and angry and strung-out all at once and he thinks Chris would be proud of him for noticing. It’s not that he doesn’t care, just that he doesn’t care enough to voice it.
“That’s not what I’m saying and you know it. Mark, did you think I wouldn’t know what this is?”
Mark taps his fingers lightly against the laptop casing and snorts. “Because persecution for sexual orientation mirrors my inability to recognise that this is insecurity?”
There’s a biting note to his words but Chris ignores it and leans forward. “Insecurity? Is that what you’re calling it?”
“He was always going to leave,” Mark bites out again. “He was my CFO but he wanted more – more than what – he didn’t stay. His loss.”
He adds the last on because he sees something on Chris’ face clear. Mark can see the moment it all falls into place and he expects the pity and the exasperation to win out but that’s not what he sees. Instead, Chris remains silent, expression schooled into nothing. He knew about the hallway, of course he did, voices rising even through the closed door. “Mark, all he’s ever wanted is you.”
“If that was true, he would have stayed.”
“You’re not exactly brilliant at listening, either,” Chris snaps. “You two make me so mad sometimes. Mark, for fucks sake, you couldn’t just talk to him instead of diluting his shares? He froze one account because he wanted to get your attention and you twisted it into something else – do not fucking interrupt me right now.”
Mark closes his mouth, a little startled by Chris’ attitude but refusing to let it show.
“He wanted you to realise that running off with Sean wasn’t the best idea and you could have found other ways to make him listen about the advertising. You’re both as bad as each other but what you did, whether it was out of insecurity, anger or just because you’re more of a bastard than people think, was not the right thing to do.”
He’s always known that sharing a dorm with him must have been hell in Harvard but neither Chris nor Dustin complained. Mark was never sure whether they just didn’t care or if they were keeping it quiet. Now he knows that Chris was always just waiting for the right moment. Now, when everything else is frayed and broken. Perfect timing.
“You just let yourself think that he was going to leave anyway, so why bother trying to keep him?”
Mark doesn’t know what to say. He thinks about Eduardo and everything they had been at Harvard; the distance, emotional and physical, and the proximity, sometimes far too stifling. He thinks of breakfast and hasty hand jobs and the way Eduardo had smiled to see co-founder on the masthead. He knows things about Eduardo nobody else ever will but there are other things that he doesn’t know and now never will. He thinks about how much he doesn’t care, thinks about the way he’s going to close up the gap in his life with other things but there’s always going to be a touch of Eduardo to every memory and every feeling when Facebook is involved. Mark’s no stranger to ignoring what he can’t control but this is different; this is Eduardo and he deserves more than just some footnote in the annals of Facebook history.
He installed Eduardo’s name back on the masthead, Sean’s words reverberating through his head and the bitter taste that had followed, like that was just one step too far, but Mark just wants to forget.
“You crafted this of your own volition, Mark.” Chris doesn’t look satisfied, just tired. “Do you even want to fix it?”
“Why bother?” Mark says, opening up his laptop. “Nothing’s going to change.”
There’s silence. Chris is contemplating his mug of coffee and Mark brings up the next coding update.
“Call your mother,” Chris says finally, pushing his mug across the table and standing. “I have a feeling this is something she’s going to be able to help with.”
Mark snorts. “Why?”
Chris raises an eyebrow and reaches for the door. “Think of what she does for a living.”
He’s gone before Mark can even think that through.
He doesn’t call his mother.
He emails her because he doesn’t want to hear the inflections in her voice, the pale imitations of the expressions he can see in his mind’s eye. He almost doesn’t send it but he can see Chris and Dustin across the bowl of the office and they both look tired, sad and torn. Chris sits down at his desk, head in his hands and Mark feels angry for a reason he can’t figure out. He hits send and codes for six hours straight.
His mother knows him too well; she sends him an article on dealing with relationship insecurity and a lengthy email about what he’s eating and how long he’s sleeping and when he’s going to bring that lovely boy Dustin and his blonde boyfriend around for dinner. He doesn’t mention that Chris and Dustin aren’t in a relationship – even if he’s thought it sometimes – and he definitely doesn’t tell her anything about his sleeping and eating habits. She always was intrusive about his lifestyle but she means well and he can’t bring himself to thank her.
He doesn’t read the article but forwards it on to Eduardo, taking an age to type his email address into the bar. It’s not that he thinks it’s wrong (of course it’s right) but that he wonders if it will be deleted and if he should bother at all.
It’s only once he’s hit send along with, i was never sorry , that he re-reads his mothers email. After all the family information that he doesn’t bother to read, she says, he’ll come around, Mark. Eduardo always was the intelligent type.
He stares at the email for a long time, aware that he never once mentioned Eduardo’s name in his email.
The reply he gets is a text message – obviously Eduardo is as good at tracking him down as he is Eduardo.
asshole. that wasn’t what i wanted you to be sorry for
Mark throws his iPhone onto the desk and contemplates the open Facebook page on his laptop. It’s an argument between Chris and Dustin that’s been almost endless and it’s about whether cheese tastes yellow of all things. Before, he and Eduardo would have weighed into the argument and Mark has never felt Eduardo’s absence more than in those times.
He wants to bury himself in code but he picks up his phone and snarls at the message. if you knew, it’s your own fault for not doing anything about it.
It seems easier to blame Eduardo.
Easier but not better, as Mark finds out when the next shareholders meeting rolls around.
“Shut up!” Chris shouts, pushing on Eduardo’s chest and standing in front of him to glare at Mark. “I swear, if you two keep this up I will throw you out of a fucking window. Mark sit down before I make you, Eduardo back off.”
There’s a moment’s hesitation and then Mark sits, twisting his chair away from the occupants of the room. He can hear light footsteps on the carpet; Eduardo taking the requested steps back.
“You both - god, what is wrong with you?”
There’s something in Chris’ voice – Mark turns his face and Chris seems smaller somehow, all of the fight seeping out and deflating him. Mark bites back on saying anything and Chris recovers, Dustin’s eyes locked onto Chris. It’s the most intensity Mark has ever seen in his expression and he thinks, oh.
“Stop fighting and do something about it. And if you tell me that you don’t want to, Eduardo, I will shove forty-six emails into your face.”
Mark raises an eyebrow at that and opens his mouth but Chris turns his glare on him.
“Smart remarks aren’t going to fix this, either, Mark, even though I know you can’t help yourself.”
There’s no amount of reproach in the words but Mark bristles. He’s still Chris’ boss and he deserves better than that. When he says so, Chris snorts.
“Oh, you do? And what do Dustin and I deserve? Do we deserve to watch you guys fight this out like it’s impossible to fix? Do we deserve to have to pick sides? Do we deserve to watch this happen and let you tear everything apart when we spent so long building this up?”
Mark’s loathe to admit any mistake but he can see it in the way Dustin glares at Mark, in the way Chris is standing taller again, like he’s found the right words to say. In the way that Eduardo seems to deflate instead, dropping down onto the sofa. Mark watches him; catalogues his expression and body language and feels something slide back into place. They’re all in the same room but Mark doesn’t know if he wants to fix this, if he even knows how.
Eduardo should have come back before, should have made this easier not harder and Mark doesn’t understand why-
“I was never going to leave,” Eduardo says, eventually. “Even if you didn’t want-”
Mark doesn’t want to do this in front of Chris and Dustin but Eduardo’s still talking. He turns away so that he can pretend he isn’t listening but he can’t help it; Eduardo’s words settle around his shoulders comfortably and he hates it.
“I quit the internship; I would have given everything to stay.”
“But you didn’t,” Mark gets out, fists clenched. “You weren’t in California.”
“No,” Eduardo admits, slowly. “But you were going to leave me behind.”
Mark can’t say no because it was true. He still doesn’t know why he said that; it was easier to let go than admit that he was never going to be enough. He doesn’t realise he’s said that aloud, fucking stupid until he feels Eduardo’s eyes on him, big and wide. He ducks his head, angry with himself.
“Mark,” Eduardo says, too close, but Mark turns away from him.
“Don’t Eduardo,” he snaps, shifting the chair away. “You think pity is what I deserve? You think I want your attention now just because you know why I was driving you away?”
Eduardo reels back, anger lining his face once more. “You think I didn’t love you back then, Mark?”
Love. The thought skitters about in Mark’s head and he’s not quite sure how to reconcile that into anything else. Love. Eduardo’s still talking but Mark doesn’t hear it. It's not until Chris says, "Eduardo," and there's dead silence that he starts to listen in again.
“You didn’t know.” Eduardo, incredulous. “You really didn’t know.”
“Why would I?” Mark snaps. He has nothing else to compare it too; Erica was comfortable. Eduardo was different. Attentive, sure, almost ridiculous in his relationship with Mark, but Mark had nothing else to-
“Mark,” Eduardo says, voice strong this time and free from pity. “How did you get this so fucking wrong?”
He can’t know Chris said the same and maybe, maybe Mark did get it wrong.
“You idiot.” Eduardo’s voice is soft and fond and Mark doesn’t know what else to say. There’s a hand on his neck and he presses forward instead, feels the familiar touch of Eduardo’s forehead to his and thinks, thanks, Chris but this time there’s no sarcasm.