The Social Network: the kink meme!

It's Complicated: But sexy!

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zuckonitkinkeme wrote in tsn_kinkmeme



IMPORTANT: please DO NOT post prompts about any non-public people as part of a prompt. for example: randi zuckerberg is fine as she is a public figure both on the internet and on facebook itself. priscilla chan is NOT as she is not a public figure.

if you're in doubt, please message the mod or leave a comment in the discussion post.

♥ post requests and responses in the comments to this post.
♥ be respectful.
♥ both a pairing/character AND a prompt/kink must be posted.
♥ one pairing/prompt per comment please.
♥ you are encouraged to try and write a prompt for every request you make.
♥ we are slash, femslash, het, three-and-moresomes etc. friendly. (we are even incest friendly what with some of our characters being twins and all...)
♥ no pairing bashing, OK? no need to wank over ships.
♥ long and short fics welcome. multiple responses encouraged!
♥ please try to refrain from saying 'seconded!' as much as possible.
♥ on RPF: Please disclaim that it is RPF, a work of fiction and in no way related to the actual actors/persons/etc. (i wouldn't even try and discourage RPF from this meme ;))


♥ alphabetize pairings/threesomes/moresomes. (e.g. Eduardo/Mark/Sean etc.)
♥ put [RPF] before RPF prompts. (e.g. [RPF] Andrew/Jesse)
♥ for crossover prompts: "[Crossover], The Social Network Character(s)/Other Character(s), [Fandom]" (e.g. [Crossover], Eduardo/Columbus, [Zombieland])
♥ no "!" in pairings, only in descriptions. (e.g. Eduardo/Mark, FacebookCreator!Eduardo, CFO!Mark)
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♥ all prompts are open to fills at all times, even if they have been filled in the past or are being currently filled by someone else. multiple fills are positively encouraged; if something appeals to you then do not be put off creating a new fill by the existence of a prior one.
NEW: ♥ PLEASE comment with the first of your fill to the PROMPT and then all future updates as a comment to the FIRST PART of the fill. this makes it easier for both the WIP spreadhseet and for archiving stuff on delicious. it also helps people who are trying to catch up on updates and don't have to look through every fill on the prompt (should it have more than one). thank you.






have fun!

THERE WILL BE UNMARKED SPOILERS. enter at your own risk! :D


i know you guys are enjoying this meme and i appreciate that but please can you put the SUBJECT HEADER on your prompt. you would REALLY be helping me out if you could do that. it just saves time for me when i'm trying to tag everything in delicious.

AND PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT repost prompts from parts one, two, three or four over here again. the delicious is around for people to find prompts they may not have already seen.



  • 1


Mark has an one-night stand with somebody and calls out the wrong name. Eduardo's. The person sells the story to the media, things get kind of crazy.

Eduardo is vastly unimpressed by the whole thing because everybody is watching him now, the media attention is on him. Also, it's endangering his career because the part of the world he's working in/the business he's in doesn't deal all that nicely with people/their business partners being gay.

And well, Eduardo isn't even gay to begin with, only now he starts to imagine things and that isn't helpful either.

Eduardo being angsty and bitchy and worrying about his future and Mark being Mark. Happy ending, please.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (1a/?)

A/N: This is my first venture into filling a kinkmeme prompt, and my first venture into this fandom, and I am. Freaking. Out. So please, be gentle. The title is from The National’s “Anyone’s Ghost”.
Warnings: Coarse language, sexual content, angst, psychological unhealthiness, and possibly slight D/s in future chapters.
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me, and the characters are based on those of the movie The Social Network, not on the real people. Please don’t sue!

didn’t want to be your ghost (but i don’t want anybody else)

The universe must hate him. There’s no other explanation for why Eduardo is having a gay crisis of epic proportions when he isn’t even gay.

It’s been two hours since he got a call in his office from Anthony, the only old friend from the Phoenix he’s still close to, who just said “check your Google alerts, man, because Jesus fucking Christ”. It’s been an hour and forty-five minutes since he left the building, stares and whispers following him. It’s been seventy minutes since he arrived at his apartment, just barely beating what can only be paparazzi.

He has thirty-eight new messages.

His ex-girlfriend, presumably as of two hours ago (“you really just could have told me, Eduardo!”), his assistant Ava (“Mr. Saverin, I’ll have a list of publicists to you by end of day”), his mother (sobbing about grandchildren), Chris (“I know, okay, I really do, but please, please call me before talking to anyone else, for the love of God, Wardo, please”), Gretchen (“let me know if you’re considering litigation”), and a few friends (who are mostly supportive and sympathetic, thankfully) are amongst a truly alarming number of newspaper, magazine and TV reporters.

(Eduardo may be ignoring the one from his father, spoken entirely in Portuguese and in entirely too calm a voice, instructing him to call as soon as possible. Just maybe.)

And his phone is ringing again. Eduardo stares at it like a rabid animal that has him cornered.

“Hey, man, you turned off your cell!” says Sean’s voice from his speaker, and it says something about the gravity of the situation that Eduardo nearly collapses in relief at the sound. He and Sean have been on civil, even friendly, terms for a while now, but all that means is that Eduardo finds him equal parts amusing and annoying. “Not cool. It’s called call display, bitch, look it up.”

There’s a pause, because Sean is always irked when he says something as awkward as ‘called call display’; it doesn’t fit in with his self-image (which he describes as “Casanova’s way with the ladies, Wilde’s wit, and James Bond’s cool charm…up to eleven”, and Eduardo describes as “delusions of grandeur”). It frightens Eduardo a little that he’s become familiar enough with Sean to be aware of this tendency.

“When you’ve reached your quota of dramatic flailing and whining, call me back. But not before then, because I cannot deal with puppy dog eyes. Or puppies in general. Remind me to tell you the story with the beagle, the midgets and the eggplant sometime.”

Eduardo makes a mental note to remind Sean that one cannot actually hear someone giving you puppy dog eyes over the phone, and to never, ever ask about the beagle story.

His phone rings again and Eduardo flinches. Wonderful, he’s developing a phobia of phones now. Won’t his therapist be pleased.

It turns out his terror was justified, because if he’s not mistaken, that’s Christy’s voice coming from the speaker now (Eduardo quickly shuts the blinds and curses Dustin for making him watch Scream a dozen times freshman year).

“Hi, Eduardo! I just heard the news, and I really cannot believe I didn’t see it sooner. I mean, I was right there when you were all jealous about Mark and Sean Parker. It wasn’t the Silicon Valley sluts I had to be concerned about at all, was it? Oh, well. The obsession with suits should have tipped me off, if nothing else. Just so you know, I forgive you.”

Immediately after the message ends, his phone is ringing. Again. Eduardo is starting to feel a headache coming on.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (1b/?)

“Um,” says Ava, which makes Eduardo’s mood swing from verging on panic to falling over the edge, because he has never heard his assistant sound so hesitant before, “we might have a problem besides negative publicity on our hands, Mr. Saverin. 377A is rarely enforced these days, but it is technically still in the penal code, and – well – it’s something that a business rival could use against you. I’ve been looking into some of our clients’ files and found a few who are supporters of politicians who opposed the petition to repeal the law and publicly condemned homosexuality…”

Well, shit. Eduardo had been thinking mostly about the public embarrassment he was going to have to suffer because of Mark (again). He’d been thinking about how, just as the shareholder meetings at Facebook were starting to be less insanely awkward, a new elephant now exists to be shoved into the boardroom. He’d been thinking about how to avoid the media’s attention until the next drug bust of some teenage pop star deflects it.

He’d been thinking that life was incredibly unfair, because until a few hours ago he was finally at a place when he didn’t think of Facebook with gut-wrenchingly mixed feelings, when he didn’t think of California with unreasonable hatred, and when he didn’t think of Mark much at all.

(He mostly certainly has not been thinking about the fact that Mark apparently thinks about him when he – when he –)

It hadn’t even occurred to Eduardo that this might have a very serious and very negative effect on his career.

That settles it, then. He is going to kill Mark.


“Let me get this straight,” says Chris, ignoring Dustin’s snicker as readily as Mark is ignoring him. “Last week, after I threatened to call your mother and you agreed to go home and get a minimum of six hours sleep, you instead went to a bar, proceeded to get drunk and to let a stranger pick you up. You then had sex with this stranger, called out Eduardo’s name during the act, and then insulted the man’s lack of linguistic creativity for calling you an asshole before you left.”

Chris sucks in a breath, and then finishes in a tone that suggests Mark caused the Apocalypse, or murdered all the kittens in the world, or was behind the cancellation of Firefly: “And you didn’t have him sign a non-disclosure agreement.”

“I insulted his lack of creativity in blowjobs too,” Mark says without glancing up from his laptop. “It was disappointingly pedestrian. But I suppose I shouldn’t have expected any better from a Brown graduate.”

Chris rubs his temples, warding off what is either an encroaching migraine or the impulse to brain Mark with his own stapler.

Dustin’s betting on the latter, judging by a) personal experience, b) the way Chris is now trying to Care Bear Stare Mark into realizing what a monumental fuck-up he’s made, and c) the fact that it’s, you know, Mark.

“Long story short, the guy sells the story to the highest bidding tabloid, ensuing media storm, blah blah blah,” he interjects, because if he just sits back and lets Chris try to make Mark behave like a normal human, they’ll be here all day. “Let’s get back to the good stuff – you said Wardo’s name, Mark. In bed. During sex. Whilst fucking. In the throes of -”

“I get the point, stop repeating yourself,” Mark snaps.

Well, that’s vaguely alarming. Mark never gives in that quickly to Dustin’s needling, for one, and for another, that retort is far beneath his usual standard. However hard Mark is pretending, he’s clearly so far from unaffected that anyone remotely less – well, robotic is the term Dustin thinks most applicable – would be shaking and dry-heaving into the potted plants.

Then again, this is Mark and Eduardo. Dustin should have expected melodrama.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (1c/?)

Chris is evidently more concerned about his own mental breakdown than Mark’s. “You realize I’m going to have to have a conversation with him about this soon? I’m going to have to have a conversation with Eduardo about Facebook and Mark and sex.”

Huh. Dustin’s not sure he’s ever seen Chris sweat before when finals or heat stroke-inducing temperatures weren’t involved.

“The first of those topics has only recently stopped being unbearably awkward, the second was tacitly understood to be off-limits unless Mark was, like, dying or something, and the last – I mean, Eduardo’s an attractive guy and all –”

Mark finally looks at Chris, and it’s only because Dustin was waiting and watching for it that he catches it. Mark looks at Chris, and his gaze is cold and sharp and intent in a way that Dustin has only seen a few times before. It makes a chill run down his spine.

“– but at this point, it’s kind of like he’s my attractive cousin, so just – no.”

Mark loses all interest in staring at Chris like a surgeon searching for a starting point, so Dustin can let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding and says, “Hot cousins. The squick outweighs the hotness, I hear you.”

Chris shoots him a disgusted look (a mock-disgusted look, of course; Chris adores him, really) before turning back to Mark. “You need to get a statement out there as soon as possible, and I need to be able to tell Eduardo something that will stop him from freaking out as soon as he calls, so you need to tell me how you want to play this, Mark.”

“I thought that was what I paid you for.”

“You don’t pay me,” Chris reminds him, and Dustin joins in on glaring at Mark, because he’s been trying to ignore that Chris is only back temporarily. “I’m only here to help out after you scared off your last head of PR and because we have a while before election season. So it would be nice if you could try, just a little, to help me help you.”

Mark scoffs. “You sound like a motivational poster in a community college.”

“Mark. We really need to start doing some damage control. You -”

On top of Mark’s desk, Chris’s cell phone starts to ring. Chris stares at it with unmitigated terror; Mark stares very determinedly at an invisible spot on the wall.

Dustin’s tempted to roll his eyes and answer it himself, but. Well. It would be awkward. He and Eduardo talk, occasionally, and it hasn’t been tense in a while now, but they didn’t stay friends, not like Eduardo and Chris did, after – After.

Then again, they can’t leave Eduardo hanging, unless they want a repeat of the chicken freak-out, which was really only hilarious in person. Before Dustin can pick it up, Chris snatches it away and hits the ‘end’ button.

“I have to say, Christopher, I am shocked and appalled by your rudeness -”

“Dustin, since I need Eduardo not to have an embolism and me not to go to prison for double-murder, shut. Up. Please.”

Chris really does look like he’s starting to remember that, hey, he knows the President, he could totally get away with murder, so Dustin holds up his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. It’s not like I want to get involved in any Mark and Eduardo drama, anyway.”

“A little late for that, I think,” Chris says, quiet, and Dustin can’t help but recoil a bit.

It’s easy for him to forget, most of the time, that nothing about this situation is actually funny at all when you think about it.

(Deleted comment)

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (2a/?)

A/N: First, thank you so much to everyone who has commented! I was really nervous about trying to write in this fandom, but this prompt was just too perfect to pass up, and the support is amazing!

Next, some necessary additional disclaimers – my knowledge of Singapore and Singaporean law is limited to what Google and Wikipedia tell me, so I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies. Also, while I’m unbelievably relieved my strange sense of humour has translated for some people, the OP did ask for some angst. I’m trying to keep some humour in where I can, but it will get angstier.


Okay. So, evidently? It’s kind of difficult to explain to various colleagues and business contacts that you are not in fact gay, while also making it clear that you believe there is nothing wrong with being gay and are therefore not going to participate in or tolerate their homophobia.

Eduardo has almost quoted Seinfeld (“not that there’s anything wrong with that!”) far too many times over the past few days.

He’s been trying to convince himself that the worst of it is over, or close enough. After all, he’s already talked to his father, and Eduardo can’t imagine there’s a circle in hell that could compare to that conversation. It was almost as bad as telling him about the dilution was.

Besides, Chris had assured him that Facebook was preparing a statement and everything would start clearing up soon.

But it’s been a few days now, and there’s no statement, and no end to the media spotlight, and no lack of people leaving ‘supportive’ messages for him on his voicemail or his Facebook page. He’s starting to lose clients. And sleep. And patience.

If he starts going grey over this, he’s going to sell his Facebook stock to the fucking Winklevii.

“I know, Eduardo, okay, I’m working on it,” Chris says without preamble when he answers his phone.

“What could possibly be taking this long? You told me days ago that you had it handled, that I wouldn’t have to worry about it, and that I couldn’t murder Mark without giving you an ulcer.”

“I think I’m getting an ulcer anyway. I’d promise you an alibi if you decided to murder Mark after all, but I’m pretty sure this media shitstorm would ensure that the official story would be about jilted lovers, so.”

“So Mark’s the problem.” Of course he is. Story of Eduardo’s life.

“Yeah. He’s being…weird about this.”

“It’s Mark, is he ever not weird?”

“This is different. The complete lack of embarrassment isn’t surprising –”

Eduardo snorts. “Right. God forbid Mark be capable of shame like us lesser mortals.”

“– but instead of doing damage control, he’s ignoring it.”

“Not deigning to acknowledge a situation he considers beneath him. Sounds just like Mark to me.”

Chris sighs, says “Wardo”, and then stops.

It’s like a punch to the gut. The nickname, or the tone, or the reason behind both, the reminder. Eduardo hasn’t been this bitter – hasn’t allowed himself to be this bitter – in a long time. He’s backsliding, and Chris can tell because he remembers when it was at its worst, because he was there to witness the mess that was Eduardo’s life in between the dilution and the depositions.

(Because he was the one who said, “You shouldn’t let your life revolve around Mark. It’s not healthy now, but it never was in the first place.”)

Eduardo lets his breath catch for a minute and then breathes out, closing his eyes as he listens to Chris.

Re: FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (2b/?)

“As I was saying, I can deal with Mark’s usual idiosyncrasies. But this isn’t Mark refusing to be interrupted while on a coding binge, or Mark wanting to delegate something he shouldn’t or refusing to delegate something he should. This isn’t even Mark saying things that can never, ever be said to the public. This is Mark…doing nothing. He’s ignoring something potentially damaging to Facebook, Eduardo.”

Put like that, Eduardo can’t deny that it is extremely strange behaviour for Mark.

“And I don’t know what to do, honestly. He – he’s either ignoring it, refusing to think about it at all because he can’t cope with it any other way…or he’s…well, maybe he, um, wants you to give your input on it.”

Eduardo can feel his neck flush when Chris stumbles over the word ‘wants’. If Mark has been trying very hard to ignore the whole situation, Eduardo has been making Herculean efforts to ignore a particular part of the situation. Namely that Mark apparently thinks about him when he’s having sex.

Or, at least, he did once.

But what if it’s been more than once, and this was just the only time he was caught? What if Mark has said his name with other people, other men and women, and they never sold the story because they were paid off or pressured into signing NDAs or actually had principles? What if Mark thinks about him when he jerks off too?

There are a dozen other what ifs, and then there are the whys and the how longs, and Eduardo doesn’t want to know the answers to any of them.

He could deal with the knowledge that his best friend – the person he’d liked and trusted and admired most in the world – had considered him disposable. He dealt with it because he had no other choice, because Mark made it very clear how little he valued him, in terms of actual percentages (fractions of percentages). He’d learned to live with the fact that Mark did little more than use him for money, and throw him away when he no longer needed that.

To now have to accept that Mark would have also used him for sex…

Eduardo puts it out of his mind. He can’t dwell on that now. When the media crisis is over, and the potential crisis in his career has been averted, then he’ll sit down with his therapist and try to treat the latest wounds Mark’s inflicted, add a few more scars to the collection. But not now.

“Chris, my goal is to get this problem resolved as soon as possible. If you think that I have to visit the Facebook offices to do that, then I will.”

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (2c/?)

Even after giving Eduardo an honest answer, Chris isn’t sure it’s the right one.

The businessman in him says it was the correct decision. Eduardo needs to come to Palo Alto so they can present a united front – the co-founders of Facebook, putting the past behind them to defend their company from libel. He and Mark need to tell the same story so that even if there are those who won’t believe them – and there always are – no one can prove anything, and everyone can save face. With a few carefully worded press releases and one well-choreographed press conference, they could have this turned around and use it to point out the heteronormative bias that still exists even in the so-called liberal media.

Okay, the politician in him might have spoken up a bit too.

As a friend, though, Chris thinks that Eduardo coming to California is a terrible idea. It’s not that he doesn’t believe Eduardo has made his peace with the past, because he does. But he also knows that it’s one thing for Eduardo to be over it on the opposite side of the world, when he and Mark have barely spoken a dozen words in years. It’s quite another to be over it when he’s here, having to deal with Mark again, this time with a new variable.

Although Chris suspects it’s not new at all.

(He remembers the first big PR disaster he had to deal with, Sean’s drug arrest and subsequent shove out of the company. He remembers wondering who called the cops on the party and that all he could think about was the way Mark looked at Sean and said “you didn’t have to be that rough on him”. He remembers anger and pity and relief and dread and guilt warring, turning his stomach into knots, when he would look at Mark and wonder, are you doing this to Sean as a gesture to Wardo, or because you won’t let anyone hurt him but you?)

Well, what’s done is done. Chris firmly believes in moving forward instead of wallowing in the past, though he knows all too well that’s easier said than done.

“Eduardo’s going to fly in,” he announces.

Dustin stares at him, his expression uncharacteristically inscrutable. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

Only years of practice prevent Chris from snorting, or worse, sarcastically questioning Dustin’s sudden – far too late – concern for Eduardo. “He’ll be fine. He’s more impatient to get this all over and done with than anything else, I think.”

“And you think Mark will be fine with him being here, right now?”

“Why is Mark the one you’re concerned about?” Chris snaps, because years of practice or not, he’s only human. An overtired, over-stressed human who has consumed far too much Pepto-Bismol in the past few days in a probably futile attempt to avert an ulcer before he’s turned thirty. At least he has enough self-control not to ask, Why is Mark always the one you’re more concerned about?

“Because he’s my friend, and my boss,” Dustin says, just as irritably, which Chris thinks is a sign about how much this is all getting to them (again).

“And Eduardo is just your ex-colleague and your ex-friend -”

“Who is going through some shit he doesn’t deserve, yes, but who will be able to forget all about it once the media crisis is over. We tell the truth – that Mark and Eduardo were never romantically involved, that Eduardo is straight anyway – and Eduardo will go back to Singapore and the whole thing will blow over in time. Eduardo won’t even have to think about any of this in a few months.

Mark, on the other hand, has obviously been thinking about this for years and is probably not going to stop anytime soon.”

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (2d/?)

Chris isn’t sure how Dustin arrived at that conclusion, so he focuses on his extremely flawed premises. “First of all, this is not just some minor embarrassing incident that Eduardo can shrug off as easily as Mark can. The business circles Eduardo moves in are considerably more conservative than yours and Mark’s, not to mention frequently more homophobic. Fuck, there’s an anti-gay law still effect in Singapore.”

Dustin’s eyes widen at that. “Shit. Seriously?”

“Yes,” Chris says, wry but sharp enough to make Dustin wince. “He’s going to lose clients and consulting jobs over this, if he hasn’t already. Besides, even once we tell the truth, it doesn’t mean everyone will believe it, or that there won’t be some other asshole looking for publicity who will tell a tall tale about Eduardo or Mark or both. This isn’t just going to blow over, Dustin, and – and why should Eduardo have to deal with it at all, for that matter? Mark’s the one who made the mistake, Eduardo had nothing to do with it, and yet he’s got to pay for it too.”

“It’s unfair, okay, I get it. Wardo has the right to be pissed off, I’m not saying he doesn’t. I’m just saying that you should remember Mark is upset too.”

Chris raises an eyebrow in skepticism, but Dustin is insistent.

“He is, Chris. He tries to hide it, but – think about it.”

“I’d really rather not.” Because, frankly, ew. (Chris is allowed to be inarticulate and childish in his head, if nowhere else. Shut up.)

“Chris.” Dustin is not smiling, and his tone is not jocular. “He’s still thinking about Eduardo that way, after all this time. What does that mean?”

Chris doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to, either, because Mark became his boss first and his friend second years ago, entirely through his own actions.

“You were making fun of him for it not so long ago,” he points out.

Dustin shrugs. “I make fun of Mark at every opportunity. Also, incidentally, of everyone else. Besides, I might feel a little sorry for him and not want him to go, like, full-on supervillain ax crazy instead of just geek/cyborg hybrid quasi-crazy, but I know Mark’s an asshole, Chris.”

The hint of bitterness in his tone makes Chris close his eyes for a moment. He forgets, sometimes, that even though Dustin pretty much sided with Mark back when everything went to shit, he also never wanted to have to make that choice.

Sometimes Chris wonders if Dustin resents him a little too, for being able to avoid the same fate, for being able to stay friends with both Eduardo and Mark, even if he and Mark have only grown increasingly distant with time.

(He’ll never trust Mark again. Ever. And he knows Mark knows that, the same way he knows that Mark begrudges Chris staying close to Eduardo.)

“We have to focus on the future of the company,” Chris says, and he knows that Dustin hears what he’s really saying.

Let’s not dredge up the past.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (2e/?)

Eduardo is meandering through the aisles of an airport duty-free shop when his iPhone rings. ‘Suzana’, the screen informs him, and Eduardo half-sighs, half-laughs in relief (a teenage girl briefly stops eyeing the giant vodka bottles to look at him as if concerned he’s going to leave baggage unattended).

He was introduced to Suzana on his second day at work, apparently because their coworkers assumed that the two Brazilians in the office simply had to be friends. Eduardo had spent the first month semi-infatuated with his new colleague, but they only started spending time together after she quit. Sometime after learning that Suzana is possibly the biggest Star Trek nerd this side of the International Date Line, Eduardo stopped thinking of her as a potential girlfriend and started thinking of her as his best friend.

“Thank God,” he says in lieu of hello.

“You’re welcome, my child,” Suzana intones in what she probably thinks is a beatific voice.

“You sound constipated,” Eduardo informs her. “Also, blasphemous.”

“How exactly does someone sound while constipated?”

“Like you, clearly.”

Suzana groans. “Okay, if your jokes are that bad, it must be worse than I thought. Let me have it, Saverin.”

Eduardo buys himself some time to find a location with far less potential eavesdroppers by asking Suzana about her travels. She might officially live in Singapore, but Eduardo suspects she spends more time on planes than in her apartment.

“…and I swear, no one smiles in Eastern Europe, like, at all! Not even people who really should try much, much harder than they do to get a tip.”

“Yeah, I’ve read about how in their culture and with the history of communism -”

“Yeah, no,” Suzana cuts him off, “I’m telling a story, not listening to you repeat things you learned in international business etiquette seminars.”

She goes on to complain about the state of public washrooms (“charging me to use a facility that may or may not give me crabs, seriously?”), the food (“all that pork was enough to make be consider going kosher despite, you know, not being Jewish”), the weather (“don’t you dare say ‘I told you so’, I will physically hurt you”), and the various currencies (“I moved all of five miles and used just as many types of colourful money with ugly dudes on it”).

“The startling level of ethnocentrism in that rant aside,” says Eduardo as he settles into a relatively secluded corner, “how was your trip?”

“Productive,” Suzana says, because she’s succinct except when in tirade mode. “Now tell me what’s been going on with you, because I’ve been in meetings or in transit for the past seventy-two hours and I’ve still heard some crazy shit.”

“Well, first of all, Heather broke up with me for supposedly being gay, so that was a nice way to kick off the week.”

“Good riddance, Heather has the emotional stability of a yo-yo. As have most of your girlfriends, actually, aside from the ones who were just total bitches.”

“That’s not true! I’ve had plenty of nice girlfriends. There was…” It should not be taking him nearly this long to think of someone. “…Aya!”

“The nerdy one you dumped after three weeks, saying you were better off as friends?”

“We are better off as friends, and I don’t think anyone who speaks Klingon has the right to call someone else a nerd.”

“You’re just bitter about having to go to that convention with me, because of the really very minor accident with the Vulcan ears which you completely overreacted to. It’s not like it was a big fire.”

“You swore you would never mention that again!” Eduardo hisses, because there is bitter and then there is scarred for life.

“Fine, fine, drama queen.” There’s a pause, and Eduardo’s stomach clenches, because he knows Suzana, and she’s going to stop joking around any moment now and make him talk. “I know you’re not that upset about Heather. But you must be upset about everything else.”

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (2f/?)

“I’m upset that half of my clientele seems to be comprised of homophobic douchebags and that everyone I know or have ever known since middle school now feels compelled to call me up and tell me they’re not surprised I’m gay, since apparently everyone buys into stereotypes about good looks and hair care and the ability to colour coordinate -”

“Eduardo. Fique tranquilo. Or take a breath, at least.”

He tries to comply without hyperventilating, but it’s difficult when he’s going to be on a plane in less than an hour that’s going to take him to Palo Alto. To Facebook. To Mark.

“What are you planning to do about Zuckerberg?”

“Chris is handling it.”

“The same Chris who claims to be your friend but kept working for the guy who stabbed you in the back?”

“It’s not that simple, Suzy. Chris was friends with Mark too, and he didn’t know what he was up to beforehand, and – we’ve talked about this already.”

“Yes,” Suzana agrees in a tone that makes it clear she doesn’t agree at all. But then, she’s never met Chris or Mark, let alone been friends with them, and she takes loyalty to a level that borders on psychotic.

“I’m also flying over there to make sure, okay, and not because I don’t trust Chris, but because this shouldn’t all be dumped on his lap and -”

“Wait, wait, wait – you’re flying over there? As in, to California?”

“Yes, because -”

“You’re insane,” Suzana declares. “As in, padded room, straightjacket, Tom Cruise levels of insane. Why in the world would you go there, Eduardo, and now of all times?”

Eduardo explains it to her, everything Chris told him and his own opinion on the matter and need to get this resolved as of yesterday. His explanation only makes her angrier.

“So Zuckerberg is being even more of a passive-aggressive asshole than usual and you’re just going along with it. That’s what you’re telling me.”

Eduardo leans his head against the nearby wall and closes his eyes. He wants to write this off as Suzana being overprotective of him, the same way she was when he told her he was going to start attending the Facebook shareholder meetings, the same way she is about his family. But he can’t discount the possibility that she’s right, because Chris had said outright that he thought Mark might want Eduardo to come, and no one knows better than Eduardo how much Mark excels at passive-aggressive.

Except it’s becoming clear that there’s a lot he didn’t know about Mark and Mark’s attitude towards him and what Mark wanted from him.

And isn’t that something Eduardo didn’t expect to be going through for a second time. Mark just loves to prove him wrong.

Suzana sighs. “Look, Eduardo, just – just remember that you’re not the same person you used to be, okay? You’re not an inexperienced kid any more, and you’re not his friend, you don’t owe him anything and you don’t have to care what he thinks or believes or wants. Okay?”

“Okay.” Eduardo takes a breath he pretends isn’t shaky. “I should head to my gate soon.”

“Oh, that’s what I forgot to tell you about! The airports, all the fucking airports!”

Eduardo listens to Suzana rage against baggage weight limits and security line-ups and even-more-ludicrously-overpriced-than-usual Starbucks and smiles in gratitude. She’s distracting him, because God knows he needs it right now.

A/N: Please note that any Brazilian Portuguese I use in this fic is from the Internet, so the reliability is dubious. Also, there is apparently some debate about how different/similar the Portuguese of Portugal and the Portuguese dialects of Brazil are, so I stuck strictly to websites that defined the phrases as Brazilian Portuguese. Fique tranquilo = “don’t worry” or “relax”.

(Deleted comment)

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (3a/?)

A/N:Thank you again to everyone who has commented!

Also, a note on POV – I won’t be writing from Mark’s, and Eduardo’s is obviously very biased. He’s convinced himself of certain things about Mark and interprets everything, past and present, in that light. His perspective should not be taken as my own, or as objectively true.


Eduardo decides to go to the hotel Ava booked him instead of heading straight for the Facebook offices. He’s jet-lagged and in need of a shower, shave and change of clothes. He’s also a bit nauseous, from airsickness or airplane food, who knows.

Okay, maybe he knows it’s not either, because he doesn’t get airsick and he’s gotten used to stomaching airplane food (he never had an iron stomach like Mark, who once drank expired milk mixed with tequila and didn’t even pause in his coding). He just – he hasn’t felt this anxious about going to Facebook – about seeing Mark – in a long time, and he hates feeling like he’s regressing.

For fuck’s sake, he saw Mark three months ago, and it was fine. He walked into the shareholders’ meeting, he and Mark nodded to each other, and he sat down. End of story.

The meeting before that, they even chatted a little. Eduardo made polite inquiries about how Mark was and how his family was, and Mark stiltedly asked about the weather in Singapore and if he’d read the latest issue of The Economist.

Everything had been fine.

And now Eduardo is dreading tomorrow, even as he texts Chris to let him know he’s here and asking when would be a good time to come in, and checks his email to confirm with Gretchen that he’ll be sending her firm some paperwork to review shortly.

He falls into a fitful sleep, wakes up from dreams he can’t recall, jerks off perfunctorily, takes a shower, and gets dressed in a three-piece suit he doesn’t remember picking out.

Thanks for this, says a text from Chris. Eduardo ignores the other messages in his Inbox and calls a cab.

He can totally handle this.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (3b/?)

He totally cannot handle this.

As an intern leads Eduardo to Mark’s office, everybody stares, and it’s a hundred times worse than the first time he attended a shareholders’ meeting. Because now everyone thinks they know the full story instead of bits and pieces and because he’s fairly certain no one has ever wondered before if he’s here to, like, blow Mark in his office or something.

…and, fuck, that’s really not the kind of thought he needs to be having, oh let’s see, ever.

“Hey, man!” Dustin appears out of nowhere and Eduardo has never been more relieved to see him. “I can take it from here, Jin, why don’t you go back to working on the tagging problem? And the rest of you peons, back to staring at monitors, not shareholders!”

The intern runs off and Eduardo shakes Dustin’s hand. “Thanks.”

He shrugs. “You looked like you could use a rescue, and I figured you probably don’t want to be blushing like that in Mark’s office.” He waggles his eyebrows at this, but something on Eduardo’s face makes him stop quickly. “Too soon?”

“Can we just- where’s Chris?”

“Onto the next step in his descent into madness,” Dustin says as they head off. “I’m starting to worry about him. The other day I found him passed out in his office hugging a bottle of Pepto-Bismol and muttering about ulcers.”

Fuck. If Chris is getting this stressed out, then Eduardo is doomed.

“Naturally, I did what any concerned friend would do – took pictures and saved them for future blackmail material.”


“I said ‘future’, Eduardo, relax, it’s not like I took a video of him and posted it to YouTube, a.k.a. the Enemy That Is Not Quite As Terrible As Twitter. That would be wrong, and also Mark would cut me.”

Eduardo can’t help but laugh, and Dustin grins at him before returning to business.

“You see, Chris got a tip-off from a journalist – some guy is claiming he once slept with you at Harvard, which could obviously undermine us when we say you’re straight.”

“Who?” Though there are very few people it could be. Eduardo had been curious in college but never actually attracted to men, which translated into few attempts to experiment.

Dustin shrugs. “Chris is trying to find out and strike before anything is published. I wouldn’t wait up.”

He comes to a stop and Eduardo glances up to see Mark’s curly head bent over a laptop through the glass pane.

All of a sudden, he’s envying Chris for his Pepto-Bismol. The contents of his stomach have started a revolution.

“Do you, um,” Dustin says, looking somewhere above Eduardo’s shoulder, “want me to come in with you?”

Eduardo isn’t sure whether to be touched or defensive or irritated. He decides on none of the above and shrugs. “You can if you’d like, but I don’t want to take you away from your work.”

Dustin looks him in the eye, that same look he always gets when he feels Eduardo is being too polite to him, too formal, too distant. A mixture of hurt and resignation and resentment. Eduardo has never understood what else he expects.

“Okay,” Dustin says. He reaches out like he means to pat Eduardo on the shoulder, but thinks better of it at the last moment, flailing his hand in the air awkwardly. “See you later then.”

“Take care,” Eduardo says, and then walks into Mark’s office without knocking. It’s ruder than he cares to be, but Mark has his headphones on and his assistant is nowhere in sight.

He takes a seat in one of the two leather chairs in front of Mark’s desk and pulls out his iPhone, deciding to attend to some emails while he waits for Mark to surface. The typing stops and the headphones are dumped onto the desktop quicker than he would have expected, but then, Eduardo hasn’t spent much time around Mark in years, is no longer familiar with his habits.

He glances up and Mark is staring at him. He looks the same as he did at the last shareholders’ meeting, almost the same as he did in college. Blank-faced and sharp around the edges, with eyes that are eerily intense on whatever they focus upon.

Eduardo, realizing that he’s staring back, blinks and says, “Hi, Mark.”

“Hi.” Mark continues to look at him with bright, unblinking eyes, like those snakes that can hypnotize their prey.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (3c/?)

“If you have work to finish, I can wait.” Eduardo gestures with his phone.

Mark jerks his head, a poor imitation of how other people would shake theirs. “I have some work to finish up, but you – it can wait.” He closes his laptop and folds his hands on top. He hasn’t looked away from Eduardo once.

“Chris says you haven’t approved any press statements.”

“Most of his drafts are wildly dishonest.” One corner of Mark’s lips lifts in a ghost of a smile. “Politics have obviously corrupted him.”

“He emailed me a few to review. I’m fine with any of them.”

Mark stops semi-smiling. “They aren’t true.”

“Neither are 99 percent of the stories out there about us right now, Mark. We – you need to say something to combat that, before this gets even worse.”

Mark’s fingers twitch on top of his laptop, spider-like. He slides them off and shoves them into the pocket of his hoodie. “You haven’t presented any suggestions as to what I should say.”

“I don’t know,” Eduardo says, trying not to sound exasperated. “Say the guy is lying for publicity, or for a failed extortion attempt, or for revenge because he was dumped over Facebook on Valentine’s Day. Just say something, Mark.”


“Do what’s best for Facebook.”

Mark raises his eyebrows at the euphemistic language, or maybe at the even tone, or at Eduardo’s presumption that he has any idea what’s best for Facebook. “Lie,” he repeats, stubborn.

Eduardo bites back the first few retorts that spring to mind. Because deception is so novel to you, or repeat what we both did during the Winklevoss suit, or stop being a dick on purpose. He can’t say any of those things, he can’t be emotional, he can’t –

“Repeat what we both did during the Winklevoss suit,” he says, because apparently his mouth has a will of its own.

Mark’s eyes narrow. “We didn’t lie.”

We didn’t tell the whole truth either, Eduardo thinks, though he’s sure Mark would adamantly disagree. “No more than we’d be lying if we say that this guy is a greedy, fame-seeking con artist and that the media is spreading pure fiction.”

“He isn’t lying, though.”

“Then say there’s some other guy named Eduardo -”

Mark snorts. “The more lies you come up with, the less believable they become.”

“That’s a symptom of something you might be unfamiliar with called a conscience,” Eduardo snaps, only to regret it instantly. Especially when Mark looks pleased just as instantly.

He’s trying to provoke him, Eduardo knows, but he has no idea why.

He always hated how apathetic Mark acted during the depositions – as if it was all so beneath his notice, Eduardo’s friendship and Eduardo’s pain and Eduardo himself, none of it anything more than a nuisance. Eduardo has never been sure if it was genuine or a façade intended to hurt him. He’s not sure which is worse.

“So your plan is to say nothing.”

“As usual, you’re jumping to extreme conclusions based on inadequate data and flawed assumptions.”

Eduardo gets a feeling almost like déjà vu, like they’re having two conversations at once and he’s deaf to the second one. But Mark never spoke in subtext before, and Eduardo doesn’t try to interpret any now, doesn’t read meaning into places where there’s none, he won’t. That part of his life is over, and he won’t regress.

“I don’t think,” Eduardo says, adjusting his cufflinks, “that you’re in any position to know what is ‘usual’ behaviour for me, Mark.” He glances away from Mark and then back so that he doesn’t have to see his reaction or lack thereof. “You’ve told me what you won’t say, but not what you will say.”

“I’ll say it’s private.”

“You of all people know how little privacy exists these days.”

“I created privacy controls, Eduardo; it’s not my fault the general public is too stupid to use them properly. I have no intention of revealing more of my personal life than has already been exposed. Especially –”

Mark pauses, and this catches Eduardo’s attention more than anything else. Mark rarely hesitates, is almost never unsure of anything, and shows it even more rarely still. He swallows, throat working under the worn collar of his hoodie, before resuming.

“I especially don’t have to explain myself when people won’t believe the truth.”

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (3d/?)

Mark is probably right. The public will choose to believe the more scandalous story.

Eduardo sighs and runs a hand across his face. “Fuck, you’re right. At this point, we’ll be lucky if someone doesn’t make a damn movie about a tragic love story that never happened.” He glances over, expecting Mark to be smug or maybe blasé about Eduardo conceding his point.

But Mark is staring down at his desktop, biting hard into his bottom lip.

(Eduardo abruptly remembers Chris uncharacteristically fumbling his words, “maybe he, um, wants you to give your input on it…”)

Mark clears his throat. “Yeah, um, that would be lame. Even I wouldn’t watch a movie of people coding for two hours.”

Eduardo almost laughs. He bites the inside of his cheek until he tastes blood and stares at Mark’s desk. He wonders how long that can of Mountain Dew has been sitting there. He wonders if there’s anyone around here who occasionally brings Mark something to drink or eat that isn’t over-processed and filled with sugar.

“Look, I’ll sign off on whatever statement you want,” Eduardo blurts eventually, mostly to break the silence. “Just approve one already.”

Mark is staring at him again, he can feel it. In his peripheral vision, Eduardo can see that Mark bit too hard too, making his chapped bottom lip bleed a little.

“Will you read it first?”

Eduardo’s eyes snap back to Mark’s as if magnetized. “I’ll have my lawyers read it.”

“Prudent,” Mark fires back.

Thank you.”

“I only stated a fact. You’re overreaching with the politeness.”

“Because you’re such an expert on the subject.”

“I’ve never wasted my time on irrelevant things.”

“Most people don’t consider basic human decency to be irrelevant.”

“Most people are idiots.”

This is starting to feel less like arguing and more like banter. Eduardo stands up so abruptly that the chair almost tips over. “I should probably let you get back to work.”

“Probably.” Mark blinks twice, and Eduardo doesn’t try to decipher what that might mean.

“Have a good -”

“Singapore,” Mark says.

Eduardo pauses in his attempt to turn away. “Pardon?”

“Singapore has, um, some strange laws. I’ve heard. The whole…” Mark flaps a hand around in the air vaguely. “…the gum thing, and caning as an actual, official sentence. Insert the appropriate joke about kangaroo courts and proximity to Australia here.”

…is Mark attempting to make small talk?

Maybe Eduardo is hallucinating. Maybe he’s entered the twilight zone. Either would explain a lot of recent events.

Mark is staring at his desk again and hunching his shoulders. “Um, Chris also mentioned some very antiquated law about…that’s actually how he described it too, ‘antiquated’, the guy’s clearly spent too much time with professional speech writers…but the law, it. It’s. The one about gay sex.” His gaze flickers back to Eduardo and then back down again. “Has that been a problem for you?” he asks stiffly.

“Not until recently.” And what do you care anyway? “Seeing as I’m straight.”

Mark finally meets his eyes again. “I know that.”

Eduardo doesn’t know what to make of Mark’s tone, and he doesn’t want to.

“But Chris said you were having some problems because of it.”

“The law itself won’t be a problem; I haven’t done anything I can be arrested for. But a lot of people in Singapore, including some of my clients, are not very comfortable with homosexuality.”

“I don’t understand why you live there. It’s backward.”

“Mark,” Eduardo says sharply. He’s not sure if he’s reprimanding him for saying something offensive, or because they both know full well why Eduardo moved to the other side of the world. “There are plenty of places where homophobia is common -”

“But most places don’t have laws to enforce it, it’s ludicrous, you live on another continent, not in another historical era. You should move. You should move somewhere more progressive. Like here. Or Europe, I guess, but the women don’t shave their armpits there, that’s not a myth, and the taxes are pretty -”

“I’m not moving anywhere. Is there a point to this conversation?”

“Yes. I don’t speak without having a point. What would be the point?”

“Then arrive at it, please.”

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (3e/?)

Strangely, Mark doesn’t glare at him or passive-aggressively avoid answering. “It wasn’t intentional.”

It’s Eduardo who looks away this time, his face suddenly hot and the door suddenly very appealing. Why he’s the embarrassed one here is beyond him.

“I’m not – I mean, I don’t know exactly what Chris said to you, but I’m not – I wasn’t staying quiet because I wanted to cause problems for you. Or something.”

Mark sounds extremely ill at ease, and it’s not an apology, but it is an acknowledgement. Back in college, Mark occasionally granted him that much, a small admission that his words were mean or that he’d forgotten to check the time or that Eduardo’s movie choices weren’t always terrible. That had been enough for Eduardo, then.

It will have to do, now.

“Okay,” he says, nodding at Mark before heading for the door.


Eduardo pauses and pivots in the doorway, gritting his teeth, but manages to sound somewhat calm. “What?”

“It wasn’t intentional,” Mark says again. He leans forward in his seat, expression blank but gaze intense, far too intense. “But I’m not ashamed either.” He sits back then, opening his laptop again. “You can go now.”

For several seconds, Eduardo stands, suspended on the threshold of Mark’s office, gaping. Inanely, he wonders if he resembles a trout or a marlin.

And then he steps back inside, slamming the door behind him.

“Of course you’re not ashamed, you’re incapable of that degree of emotion,” he says, voice low and full of a fury he feels all the way to his fingertips. “And if it wasn’t intentional, Mark, then why am I here?”

Mark isn’t looking at his computer anymore. “Why are you here, Eduardo?”

“Because you were refusing to say anything!”

“And you thought you could persuade me to do something I didn’t want to do?”

Eduardo lets himself laugh this time. There is nothing resembling joy or amusement in the sound. “No. No, I was cured of that delusion a long time ago. But you obviously have some kind of point to make to me, so why don’t you stop pretending that this has anything to do with principles or concern for my problems, and just fucking make the point?”

“I’ve already made it. You haven’t been paying attention to the right things.”

Eduardo’s chest feels too full, his ribcage too tight. Because of course Mark has to make this as difficult as possible, of course he does. Eduardo doesn’t know how he could possibly think he would do anything else. Mark never makes anything easy for anyone, least of all Eduardo.

Of course he’s going to force him to think about this, about what it means.

“Mark,” he says, and his voice is shaking, he loathes himself sometimes, “if you’re planning to sit here and tell me that part of the reason you fucked me over was because you wanted to fuck me and never got to, I may actually kill you.”

Mark stares at him silently for so long that Eduardo starts to think Mark isn’t going to stop at making him say it out loud, he’s going to make him ask about it too. But then, slowly, deliberately, Mark shrugs. That fuck you shrug Eduardo remembers so very well from the depositions.

Eduardo has to walk away. He has to. Because his hands are shaking too now and he’s a hairsbreadth away from losing control and he doesn’t know what he would do if he lost it, only that it would be much worse than smashing a laptop.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (4a/?)

A/N: This is mostly a transitional chapter, to move the plot along, so the next update should follow within a couple of days.

Thank you to everyone who’s commented! :)


Eduardo comes stalking out of Mark’s office, and Dustin has a horrible sensation of déjà vu, his stomach dropping like he’s on a plane with bad turbulence, or has had Thai food that spent too much time in the sun.

Then Eduardo pauses at his desk, just stands there and seethes at him, and Dustin’s stomach plummets into his feet.

“You wanna get out of here for a bit?” Eduardo asks.

A muscle in his cheek is twitching, so Dustin decides it’s best to go along with whatever he wants. And to not make any sudden movements.

“Uh, sure,” he says, and shoots a look at his assistant as he goes. Paul knows him well enough at this point to read the message loud and clear: if I’m not back in an hour, make sure Chris gives the eulogy.

Eduardo is completely silent all the way out of the building, into the parking lot, and on the drive to a nearby café. Dustin is terrified, because he knows that ‘it’s always the quiet ones’ thing is bull shit; it’s the nice ones you really have to watch. He’s seen Carrie, okay?

“You’re not going to go postal, are you?” he blurts. “I’m too young to die, and also I haven’t finished watching the latest season of Doctor Who yet, and Chris would miss me, no matter what he says, and the Facebook offices are not a postal office, even if we pretty much single-handedly made mail obsolete, so really -”

“I’m fine,” Eduardo says, and he sounds perfectly calm, which is just, like, red fucking alert, because Eduardo and calm go together like Ozzy Osbourne and coherent speech.

Except Eduardo remains calm as they enter the café, even with camera flashes coming at them from the bushes. Dustin orders a green tea with three sugars, and Eduardo orders some pretentious variety of coffee, double-this, half-that, non-fat, no whip, et cetera.

“Non-fat, Wardo, really? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you don’t have any spare weight to lose. Except maybe in your hair.”

“Shut up, my hair is awesome,” Eduardo says, and Dustin relaxes a little, because Eduardo being ridiculous about his equally ridiculous hair is normal. “I prefer skim milk for the protein, not for the lack of fat.”

“If you’re going to talk about nutrition,” Dustin says, making sure to fill the word with all the nightmare fuel it deserves, “this ends here and now.” Fortunately, Eduardo laughs and his posture relaxes even more, which was pretty much the point. “Be honest; you’re just worried about losing your bishōnen looks as you near thirty.”

“My what?”

“Oh God, you don’t watch anime or read manga even though you live in Asia?”

“I live in Singapore, not Japan, and I think both are popular around the world anyway.”

“Whatever, dude, you’re clearly deprived. I’ll email you some stuff. I think you’d like Naruto, and you’re a drama queen, so definitely Neon Genesis Evangelion…”

Eduardo huffs in irritation. “I don’t know why everyone keeps calling me that.”

“Uh…maybe because they’ve met you?”

They settle into amicable conversation, and Dustin stops worrying about the possibility of Mark fucking with his obituary because he got himself murdered and Eduardo arrested for it, and Chris going completely off the deep end trying to handle yet another scandal. It’s nice, being able to talk to Eduardo again, even if it’s not the same as it used to be. They never used to have conversational land mines to avoid, or topics considered too personal to discuss.

“So, since you’re in town for a while this time instead of fleeing the land immediately after a meeting concludes, you should invite your girlfriend over. My approval means just as much as Chris’s!”

Dustin knows he fails Stealthy Information Gathering forever in everything but hacking, but he also knows Eduardo gets an epic fail in Noticing The Obvious, so he figures he’s good.

“I don’t have a girlfriend. There was a woman I was seeing, but after the whole media circus that has taken over my life…” Eduardo shrugs, taking a sip of his French/Italian/Indian/diet thing that has no right to be called coffee anymore.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (4b/?)

He doesn’t seem that upset, which doesn’t surprise Dustin. When he was younger, Dustin leapt at a chance with anyone female; he also went through a phase when it was kind of cool to have gorgeous women hanging all over him, even if they were only interested in his wallet. But Dustin isn’t a kid anymore and now he only dates when he genuinely likes a woman.

Strangely, though Eduardo was always the Nice GuyTM of their group, the one who was into buying thoughtful gifts and planning candlelit dinners, he’s always been kind of…well, shallow, when it comes to his dating life. He dated girls who were hot and fun, and he never treated them like anything less than royalty, but he never got all that emotionally invested in them either. As far as Dustin can tell, Eduardo has always saved his emotional investing (or over-investing, in one case that no one would need three guesses to get) for his friends.

Confirmation of single status obtained (this would be so much easier if Eduardo would just update his Facebook like a normal person), Dustin moves on.


Because Eduardo has the self-preservation instincts of a particularly suicidal lemming next to a particularly steep cliff, when he gets back to his hotel suite, he Googles himself.

There are news articles and tabloid tales, speculation on Valleywag, debates on Tumblr. Everything in Eduardo’s history with Mark is being twisted into either an epic star-crossed romance or a twenty-first century version of Dangerous Liaisons. The number of jokes about them involving the Facebook poking feature is astounding.

Eduardo skims some other articles, and pauses on one that has a picture of Mark…in a suit. It’s just…jarring. Mark has taken to wearing slightly more formal clothing than his usual hoodie, sweatpants and flip-flops when he’s in public or at a meeting, but for Mark, ‘formal’ means running shoes, jeans and, very occasionally, an actual dress shirt (Eduardo assumes that Chris and threats of dismemberment are involved).

It looks good on him.

Eduardo flushes at the thought, at the realization that he’s about two inches from his laptop screen, staring at a picture of his ex-best friend. He pulls back immediately.

It’s just the surprise of seeing Mark dressed like a grown-up instead of a slovenly, sullen teenager, Eduardo tells himself. After all, the suit is not particularly fashionable or exceptional in any way – it’s not Dunhill or Simon Spurr or Armani, Zegna or D&G or Tom Ford. It’s not fitted well enough to be bespoke – the jacket’s a bit long in the arms, a bit tight in the shoulders, like maybe Mark’s taken up fencing again, and –

And Eduardo should really not be noticing how well Mark’s clothes fit him. Or don’t, as the case may be. Except now he’s picturing Mark without any clothes on and that’s – that’s – that’s just –

Proof Eduardo needs to call his therapist, for one.

Eduardo is flashing back to The Simpsons now, to Homer cursing “stupid sexy Flanders” with his skintight ski uniform.

Oh God. He’s having a Stupid Sexy Flanders moment because of Mark. He doesn’t need therapy, he needs a fucking noose.

Eduardo glares at the picture. That suit was clearly made by Satan.

He checks his email. Ava has been keeping an eye on things in the office for him, including on the politics. Eduardo is unsurprised to learn that there’s been some concern among Board members about the attention he’s been getting, and he would be more surprised if there weren’t people trying to exploit this. Fortunately, he has Ava – whose competence and efficiency sometimes make him wonder if she isn’t here to kill John Connor – and he has a golden parachute.

Still, he likes his job, and his company, and until Mark opened his big mouth, he had been anticipating moving up relatively soon. There’s talk of opening another international office and Eduardo was favoured to be the regional VP leading the expansion.

That might not happen now.

Eduardo refuses to let that possibility psych him out. He rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. He should be able to make a dent in his emails and review a few proposals by midnight, and then talk to the publicist handling the media mess in Singapore.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (4c/?)

Chris has to make a concerted effort not to slam the phone down so hard it shatters. Of course, he should know better than to think he could reason with Fox News. Hopefully they’ll take the people from Legal more seriously before running a piece about Facebook’s “gay agenda” and the President’s possible connections to it.

He leaves his temporary office, heading for Mark’s, and checking his watch. Shit. The time he’d given Eduardo was three hours ago. Hopefully –

The train of thought – along with his path – is cut off when Dustin grabs him in a half-hug, half-flying tackle that nearly tips them both into a potted plant. Doris’s potted plant. She scowls at them both over her horn-rim, neon pink glasses.

“Sorry, Doris,” Dustin says immediately. “We’ll be much more careful in the future!” He grins nervously and basically shoves Chris back towards his office.

Chris doesn’t stop him. Doris’s office nickname is Nurse Ratched.

Once back in his office, though, he smacks Dustin’s hand away from his arm. “Okay, enough with the manhandling.”

“Isn’t that right up your alley? Literally, right up -”

“Not enough brain bleach in the world for me to hear you finish that sentence, Dustin.”

Dustin clutches a hand to his heart, romance novel heroine-style. “You wound me.”

“Not yet.” Chris narrows his eyes. Dustin may still be cracking jokes, but (1) he looks a bit strained around the eyes, (2) despite appearances, Dustin is in fact a professional, and wouldn’t interrupt Chris while he’s working without good cause, and (3) Dustin will be cracking jokes while the world ends, and then pouting about the cockroaches and Keith Richards being a ‘tough crowd’. “What happened?”

“Eduardo was here. He talked to Mark. He stormed out. Mark’s having a hissy fit. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.”

“Fuck.” When this is all over, he is going on a goddamn spa year retreat. On Mark’s dime.

“Don’t worry, though, I took Eduardo out for coffee and calmed him down.” Dustin frowns. “Actually…he more or less calmed himself down. Which doesn’t seem…” He turns to Chris with wide eyes. Wider than should be humanly possible. “Oh shit, Chris, maybe Eduardo is secretly plotting Mark’s death! Revenge served frosty!”

“Have you been smoking pot?”

“No! God, you get slightly paranoid one time in college -”

“You made me type out your plan for hacking Skynet,” Chris reminds him, “because you didn’t want the Girl Guides to suck your thoughts out from your fingers through the keyboard and use them as cookie filling.”

Dustin slumps onto the couch and crosses his arms sullenly. “It’s not my fault Billy bought the world’s most contaminated weed.”

Chris doesn’t want to think about that, because while it’s funny in the retelling, at the time, he was legitimately concerned Dustin accidentally ingested PCP or something. That was the first time he’d had a friend throw up on him, but not the last, unfortunately.

(Thank God Eduardo had never gotten into drugs. The drinking was bad enough, that last year at Harvard.)

“So Eduardo calmed down after Mark…said whatever he said. Good, because I need him back here tomorrow to green light a press statement.”

Even as he says it and starts strategizing, he feels a bit queasy. Eduardo stormed out. It’s possible Dustin is exaggerating, but Chris doubts it. For Eduardo to break his self-imposed doctrine of ultra-politeness where Mark is concerned, whatever was said had to be pretty bad. He debates giving him a call, but decides not to. The time when Eduardo would talk to him about Mark is long past, and even then, Chris never mistook it for anything other than the simple fact that he had no one else to talk to.

(“I know the lawsuit must have been hard,” he’d said, after. “Mark’s been binge-coding and terrorizing the employees again, and obsessing over getting Erica Albright – remember her? – to accept his friend request -” And Eduardo had cut him off, cold in a way Chris hadn’t thought, could never have imagined, he was capable of being: “I don’t know why you’re telling me any of this, Chris.”

They’d never discussed Mark in anything but a purely professional manner since.)

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (4d/?)

“You gonna call him?” Dustin asks, because he’s always had an uncanny ability to tap into what Chris is thinking.

“No. I’ll text him about rescheduling, but – no, it’s best I don’t call him now, if he’s still…in that mood.”

Dustin gives him a puzzled look that communicates as clearly as words: but you guys are friends.

“It’s complicated,” Chris says, which is kind of a Captain Obvious statement, all things considered. “Just…Eduardo and I talk about pretty much everything except Mark.”

“Has it always been that way?” Dustin asks, speaking at a normal person’s speed and in a normal tone for once, which Chris knows means he feels uneasy asking, like maybe he doesn’t have a right to.

“No. Since after the lawsuit.”

“Hmm. I get the feeling a lot of really fucked up shit went down during that thing.”

“No kidding.”

“Okay.” Dustin leaps off the couch like a jack-in-the-box. “Enough of this; we’ll end up, like, gazing at rain on window panes and crying into handkerchiefs if we keep it up.”

“Handkerchiefs? Where are we, in the Victorian era?”

“I will bet you a million dollars that Eduardo has at least one. Probably silk and monogrammed.”

“…I refuse to take that bet.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. One, two, three, four, I declare a Star Wars marathon!”

“That doesn’t even rhyme.”

Dustin looks at him like he’s the weird one, instead of the only person even semi-associated with Facebook who wouldn’t make psychiatrists either start to salivate or start to sweat. “Uh…why would it rhyme, Christopher? We work for Doctor Doom, not Doctor Seuss.”

“That’s…a disturbingly apt comparison.”

Dustin beams at him.

(Deleted comment)

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (5a/?)

A/N: Hopefully, lj won’t be glitchy again and this part won’t disappear and reappear repeatedly. Especially considering that it ended up longer than I meant it to. Mark and Eduardo just would not shut up.

Eduardo wakes up in the middle of the night with a hard-on again. Clearly his body is not used to the time difference yet. He tugs down his boxers and shuts his eyes, planning the quickest route to come and then go back to sleep.

But as he’s trying to imagine a scenario he and an ex-girlfriend once role-played, the secretary beneath the desk during a meeting, he thinks of Mark, and Mark’s office, and all the stares that followed him on his way there.

Not the time, Eduardo reminds himself, shaking his head. He imagines knees against a plush carpet, a tight skirt riding up on stocking-clad thighs, fingernails lightly scraping his legs. He pictures a plush mouth, the bottom lip being bitten into just hard enough to bleed-

Like Mark’s.

Fuck, Eduardo thinks, his eyes popping open in the dark.

Okay, okay, so he’s probably overreacting. He’s only thinking about Mark because he saw him yesterday, and because of the thing with the suit, and because he’s had to hear far too much about Mark’s sex life recently. That’s all it is. He just has to focus.

He can’t ever recall having trouble focusing on jerking off before, but this is neither here nor there.

Eduardo shuts his eyes again and concentrates on the memory of him and Jenny, with a few embellishments. He starts stroking himself, imagining her mouth on him, imagining his fingers in her curls, imagining her sliding a hand down her stomach to touch herself, beneath the band of her sweatpants and into her boxers-

Oh shit, not again. Eduardo tears his hand away like he’s been burnt.

This cannot be happening to him. He cannot seriously be conflating his gorgeous ex-girlfriend with Mark. In a sexual fantasy. While masturbating. This simply cannot be real life.

Eduardo lets out a hysterical laugh and rubs a hand across his face, because now he’s thinking about the things he’s been trying desperately hard not to think about since reading that very first article online. He’s thinking about Mark getting sucked off by some guy and saying his name, imagining that Eduardo was the one doing it. He’s thinking about Mark getting sucked off by Erica Albright or Christy’s friend Alice and biting his lip bloody trying not to say his name.

He’s thinking about Mark lying in his bed somewhere not too far from here, jerking off to the fantasy of Eduardo’s mouth on him, or his mouth on Eduardo, maybe in his office earlier, Eduardo’s come on his bottom lip instead of blood –

Eduardo leaps out of the bed and runs into the bathroom, afraid he’s going to throw up. Not because the images in his mind disgust him, but because they don’t, because they should but they don’t, because he’s still hard somehow even as he’s angry and weirded out.

He should really call his therapist.

Instead, he takes a cold shower and tries not to consider drowning himself too seriously.


By morning, Eduardo has calmed down. It’s just the stress and the bizarreness of the situation getting to him, he’s sure. Crossed wires. He’s been trying too hard not to think about Mark and sex, and his subconscious is retaliating for all that suppression. It’s no big deal, he’ll get over it soon.

Which means he has no reason to feel nervous – again – about going to Mark’s office.

None at all.

Eduardo gets dressed with brisk efficiency. He pulls on silk socks, boxer briefs, and an undershirt. The sharply creased pants follow, secured by a leather belt. He buttons his crisply ironed shirt, knots the power tie in a Windsor, slides in the silver cufflinks. Next is the waistcoat over his chest like a breast plate, followed by the jacket. Eduardo shields his eyes with sunglasses – Dior, dark. He slicks back his hair, double-checking that not a single strand is awry from any angle, no flaws visible. He has his phone at his waist, his briefcase in one hand, and a plan for civility and professionalism in his head. He’s ready.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (5b/?)

Eduardo’s not sure why he feels immensely relieved, then, when he sees Chris and Dustin already there when Mark’s assistant Nadia waves him in. Aside from the obvious.

“Hey, Chris.”

“Wardo, hey.” Chris stands and gives him a brief one armed-hug. “Sorry about being MIA yesterday and I wanted to pick you up from the airport -”

“Don’t worry about it, I needed to crash at my hotel for a while anyway.” He and Chris sit down in the chairs in front of Mark’s desk. “And you know Ava – she had a driver waiting for me at the gate and the hotel manager personally showing me to my suite.”

“She’s scarily efficient,” Chris agrees. “If she’d ever consider leaving Singapore, I’d steal her off you.”

Eduardo smirks. “You would try.”

“Not that this isn’t riveting to listen to,” Mark says flatly, “but weren’t we meeting to discuss matters relevant to Facebook, not your schedule coordination failures?”

Dustin laughs and Chris rolls his eyes at Eduardo. “He’s been like this all week.”

“My sympathies,” Eduardo says, only realizing belatedly that he probably should have censored that. People who aren’t friends don’t tease each other, so he shouldn’t be participating in any teasing of Mark.

An image jumps into his mind of teasing Mark with his tongue, making him ask for what he wants, making him beg for it –

Eduardo’s eyes bug and he lets out an involuntary strangled noise, because seriously, what the fuck is wrong with him? He tries to cover it with a cough, but he doubts it’s convincing anyone, since Mark, Chris and Dustin are all staring at him now.

“Excuse me,” he chokes out, coughing again, and hoping they attribute the way his face must be flushing to that.

“Don’t choke to death on your own tongue, dude,” Dustin says, grabbing a can of Mountain Dew off Mark’s desk and extending it to him. “That would be an embarrassing way to go. On the other hand, it’d make an interesting status update for a bystander…”

Eduardo grimaces at the sugary beverage. “Don’t you have any bottled water or coffee or something else that won’t induce cavities and diabetes?”

“Are our beverages not good enough for you, Wardo? I’m hurt.”

“No, you aren’t.”

“But it could be arranged,” Mark says coolly.

“I hate to agree with Mark here, but, for one, we should be getting down to business, and for another…Dustin, why are you even here?”

Dustin pouts exaggeratedly at Eduardo, who tries and fails not to laugh. “I swear, it’s like nobody loves me anymore.”

Mark scoffs. “That qualifier is hardly necessary.”

“Let’s focus,” Chris reminds them all. “Mark, shut up, the whole building already knows you’re in a mood, we don’t need reminders…Dustin, just shut up.”

“You don’t scare me,” Mark says.

Suicidal, Dustin mouths at him.

“Oh really? You forget that Nadia likes me better than you. With one word, I could have all your mother’s phone calls coming through until the end of time.”

Mark stares at him. “And you consider yourself the moral one.”

“Experience in politics, Mark, deal with it. Mrs. Zuckerberg says hi by the way, Eduardo. Said she loved that Hanukkah card.”

Eduardo smiles fondly. “Tell her I loved her teiglach recipe and so did Suzana.”

“You’re really getting into cooking, then?” Chris asks. “I thought that was a joke.”

“And yet you sent me a set of cooking books for my last birthday?”

“Gag gift.”

“Ah. Well, thanks anyway. Next time you visit, maybe I’ll cook, have you and Suzy over.”

“Great.” Chris smiles, but it dies a quick death when Mark speaks up.

“I doubt Chris will be able to pull himself away when the President’s approval ratings take an inevitable nose-dive.”

“Careful, Mark,” says Dustin without missing a beat, “your jealousy is showing. Again.”

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (5c/?)

Mark stiffens, Chris buries his face in his hands, and Eduardo finds the floor fascinating.

Mark is not jealous, he tells himself. He can’t be.

Number one, what is there to be jealous of? Ordinary chit-chat with Chris and Dustin? That doesn’t even make sense. Number two, that would imply taking something Dustin said seriously. The lack of logic is self-explanatory. Number three, Mark has never needed much provocation to be cruel.

“…holy awkward silences, Batman,” says Dustin.

“Funny,” Mark says, in a tone which implies nothing about this is remotely close to funny, “that you think you’re even capable of observing that sort of thing, Dustin, when you were completely oblivious to it in Chris.”

Eduardo has heard of ‘deafening silences’ before, but this one fucking echoes.

And then Dustin is saying, “You can be such a prick sometimes, Mark,” and stalking out of the office.

Chris eyes Mark, equal parts chastising and calculating, shakes his head, and says softly, “I’ll need a few minutes.”

Eduardo watches him go. “Mark -” he says, stops there. It’s not his place to scold Mark anymore, if it ever was. Then again, it is his place to stand up for his friends. But Chris is Mark’s friend too, so maybe they cancel each other out?

Mark is unfazed. “Excuse me, was I not accurate?”

“That’s really not the point,” Eduardo says wearily, feeling every minute of the time difference between here and home as he rubs a hand across his face. “Being right is not the be all and end all, Mark.”

Mark looks at Eduardo like he’s speaking Greek. Well, not Greek, Mark can actually understand Greek, or read it at least. Eduardo remembers him translating aloud, one of the few times he was buried in a book instead of code: “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.”

(Another time, when Eduardo found a dog-eared collection of Neruda’s poems, Mark refused to translate and tetchily snatched the book away. But Eduardo knew enough Spanish to wonder why Mark had underlined lines like como la planta que no florece and estoy hambriento de tu risa resbalada and ya eres mía, and to wonder why he didn’t bring Erica around more often if he felt that strongly about her. He’d gotten sidetracked from it when Mark admitted that he hadn’t eaten all day, and the two of them went out for pizza.)

Eduardo wonders if Mark still reads, or if his love of literature was yet another thing secondary to, and sacrificed for, Facebook. He wonders why he still cares enough to wonder anything about Mark.

They’re staring at each other again.

For the first time in days, Eduardo is relieved to hear his phone ring. Suzana selected her ringtone herself – the original Star Trek music, naturally. “Hi, Suzy.”

Oi, tudo bem?”

“I’m fine, e você?”

“Fantastic. Aside from the fact that somebody called me your beard today, Eduardo. That is so wrong on so many levels, even a math geek like you couldn’t count them.”

Eduardo grins, despite himself. “I’m being called a geek by the woman who dressed up as Uhura for a Halloween party last year? And who still attends Halloween parties, for that matter.”

“Oh, as if you weren’t right there with me, dressed as Captain Reynolds.”

“Infinitely cooler than yours, I don’t care how fantastic your legs look in that uniform.”

“Not that being made fun of in a way that’s utterly hypocritical isn’t loads of fun, but I’d rather talk about what’s up with you and how many of Zuckerberg’s bones I’ll be breaking.”

“I’m fine.” Eduardo’s gaze drifts back to Mark, who is inexplicably glowering at his desktop. “I’m kind of in a meeting right now, actually.”

“And you answered your phone?” Suzana sounds incredulous, and rightly so. Eduardo’s manners are usually much better than this.

“Yeah, so I should probably go. I’ll call you later.”

“You’d better. Tchau.”

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (5d/?)

“Sorry about that,” Eduardo says. “But since Chris stepped out -”

“I thought your assistant’s name was Ava,” Mark says, clipped and almost accusing.

“Uh…it is.” Weird. Why would Mark remember his assistant’s name? Or bother to learn it at all, for that matter? “That wasn’t my assistant.”

“And yet one of your complaints to Chris was that I supposedly made your girlfriend dump you. And that claim already had the problem of an erroneous conflation of correlation and cause.”

Eduardo’s first instinct is to snap that he isn’t a liar, Suzana isn’t his girlfriend. But that’s none of Mark’s business. More importantly, he is not going to be dragged into a fight.

“I’m going to have a chat with Chris about gossip,” he says lightly, picking an imaginary piece of lint off his sleeve. “Perhaps after he’s in less danger of becoming a Pepto-Bismol addict.”

Mark mouth quirks, petulant the way he always is when he doesn’t get his way. Eduardo braces himself for a vicious remark, for the punishment that always follows when Mark is denied what he wants.

But none comes.

Mark just takes a deep breath and says, “Answering your phone while in a meeting isn’t like you, Eduardo.”

“I said sorry -”

“I was making an observation, I’m not offended. I actually -” Mark pauses – twice in as many days, it’s like Bizarro Mark – and speaks slower than usual, like he’s carefully debating his diction. “I actually, um, kind of – well, more than kind of, and ‘kind of’ is an annoyingly overused and ambiguous term – prefer it when you aren’t. Ridiculously polite, that is.”

If it were anyone else, Eduardo would say he’s blushing a little.

(But he remembers Mark blushing before, when he’d said “you have no idea what this will mean to my father” and Mark said “sure I do”, easily, unhesitatingly, even as his ears turned pink. Eduardo remembers biting into his upper lip to hold back a sappy smile, or an “aww” that would have gotten a Red Bull tossed at his head.)

It makes Eduardo feel flushed too, and confused, off-balance, because this isn’t something they do anymore and it didn’t mean anything to Mark even when it was.

“I…I…I am, though,” he finally manages to say. “Ridiculously polite. It’s – it’s who I am.”

“No,” Mark says, matter-of-fact. “It’s who you think you have to pretend to be.”

At that, Eduardo can only stare and try to swallow against the – something – that rises in his chest, fills his throat. Something that both tightens and lets loose, something like flying and falling all at once.

Chris comes back in, making Eduardo blink.

Shit, he thinks. Shit, pull yourself together.

“…now Dustin is feeling needlessly guilty over ancient and extraordinarily exaggerated history, thanks so much for that, Mark, but he doesn’t need to be at this meeting, so…” Chris trails off, glancing between Eduardo and Mark. “For God’s sake, can’t I leave the two of you alone for five minutes without you regressing into twelve-year-olds?”

Eduardo’s face feels hotter still, but Mark’s reply is swift and steady.

“We’re fine; you’re the one who insists on treating us like children.”

“If you don’t want me to treat you like a child…”

“Yes?” Mark prompts.

“…then stop behaving like one.” Chris frowns. “I thought it was clear where I was going with that one.”

“Clichéville, apparently. I give you far too much credit, sometimes, considering that you’re an arts major.”

Eduardo can’t stop himself from snorting, which makes Chris shift his glare from Mark to him, and Mark look down and smirk. Although Eduardo is fairly certain that smirks don’t usually involve dimples.

Snap the fuck out of it, Saverin, he orders himself. It’s not news that Mark can be funny, all caustic wit that’s amusing as long as it isn’t aimed at you. But it doesn’t matter, because Mark’s other traits outweigh it by a metric ton, and Eduardo can’t put the rose-coloured glasses back on, even if he wanted to.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (5e/?)

And so what if Mark made an insightful comment, before? It was probably meant as an insult anyway, a snide shot at how Eduardo had always been so desperate to be liked and how pathetic that made him, always trying to twist himself into what he thought other people wanted him to be, always striving to be perfect and inevitably falling short. There’s no reason for Eduardo to feel – to feel anything.

He clears his throat. “So, Chris, you had some draft statements to discuss?”

“Yes,” Chris says, and for some reason he doesn’t look homicidal anymore. He looks sad. “But there’s another issue which Dustin said he mentioned to you the other day. Now, Eduardo, I need you to be completely honest here no matter how uncomfortable it makes you because, frankly, we’re well past that.” He raises both eyebrows at him for emphasis.

“That’s fine.”

“Okay. Did you or did you not have sex with this individual…” He pulls a glossy photo from his briefcase and shows it to Eduardo, turning his back to Mark. “…while at Harvard?”

“Do I want to know why you’re carrying around pictures of random guys in your briefcase?”

Mark is leaning far over in his seat to peek around Chris at the photo, so presumably he’s wondering the same thing.

“It’s not a random guy,” Chris says calmly, ignoring the sound of Mark nearly tipping out of his seat and righting it with a loud bang against the floor and enough arm-flailing to rival Dustin. “It’s a guy who’s been fishing around for the best offer for his tale of hooking up with you senior year. Did you sleep with him?”


“You’re sure?”

“What- of course I’m sure, is this a cross-examination?”

“And you’re not using some loophole-ridden, technical-virginity sort of definition of sex?”

“What is it you want, Chris, the number of bases?”

Chris pauses, as if seriously contemplating the answer.

“Oh. My. God.”

Eduardo’s kind of expecting to get called out on quoting Friends, but Chris is too busy staring at the ceiling and making PR calculations in his head, and Mark is glaring at his laptop. Irritated that he’s being kept away from coding for so long, Eduardo assumes. He probably stopped listening to them a while ago.

“However many bases you rounded with this guy, Wardo,” Chris says, moving away from Mark’s desk to start pacing, “it still doesn’t support your claim to heterosexuality.”

“If politicians are allowed to have smoked pot and not inhaled while in college, why can’t I have experimented a bit without being gay in college?”

“Maybe because the only people who buy the ‘didn’t inhale’ story are children under six and those who prefer Python to PHP or perl,” Mark mutters.

“What Mark said, but with less condescension and likelihood to start a flame war.”

“Look, Chris, I don’t see why it’s all that important anyway. Even if I were gay, it doesn’t automatically follow that I’ve ever been involved with Mark.”

Chris’s principles – that’s true and saying so would help combat some stereotypes about gay men – and his PR sensibilities – we need to kill as many aspects of this story as possible – battle it out across his face.

“You don’t mind people believing you’re not straight, then?” Mark questions, sounding doubtful and annoyed and something else, beneath both. There’s an echo of their friendship in Eduardo still, one that tacks on the part Mark didn’t say: you only mind if they believe you were ever sleeping with me.

“I wouldn’t mind at all if it didn’t have an effect on my career,” Eduardo says. And on his dating life, for that matter, but he’ll worry about that later. “But having people believe that Facebook – that we – that –”

(…that the lawsuit was about that, that you screwed me in more than one way, that I was even more pathetic and moronically trusting than everyone already thought I was…)

Mark looks at him like there’s maybe an echo in him too and he can hear the things Eduardo doesn’t say. “Yeah,” he murmurs, glancing away.

FILL: didn't want to be your ghost (5f/?)

“Okay,” Chris says, internal war over, “we’re going to say something along the following. First and foremost, your respective private lives have nothing to do with Facebook and you are both surprised and dismayed by the media’s recent behaviour and considering litigation. However, because Facebook shareholders and users have become concerned, you want to be clear that the two of you are not and have never been in a romantic relationship… And, Mark, here’s where it would be best to add that recent claims regarding your personal life -”

“I’m not going to lie.”

Mark -”

“No. And I’ve never understood what you think saying my name very emphatically will accomplish. Is this Sparta?”

“You’re being unreasonable.”

“Not wanting to be dishonest is unreasonable?”

“I didn’t say that. But you’ve picked a very inconvenient time to be Boolean about the notion of truth.”

“Did you want a gold star for using an elementary computer science term?” Mark deadpans.

Chris throws his hands up like he’s nearing the end of his rope. Eduardo knows how he feels; his own hands are balled into fists.

“Forget Boolean then, and try extreme. And, again, very inconvenient in timing -”

Mark is scoffing and Eduardo is speaking before he recognizes the intent to do so. “Mark’s opinion on the value of honesty varies in direct proportion to how inconvenient it is for me.”

Chris stops talking, and Mark slowly rotates his chair so that he’s looking at Eduardo head-on.

“It amazes me how you assume everything is about how I may or may not feel about you,” he spits, “and yet you always get it wrong.”

The words are classic Mark, cutting to the fucking bone – but the tone is off, not detached and derisive. It’s bitter, the kind of bitter that bites and burns, the kind Eduardo knows all too well.

“I’m going to get an ulcer,” Chris groans. “Before I’m thirty. And not even from the GOP, oh no, because that would make far too much sense…”

“I’m wrong,” Eduardo repeats. “Well, of course I am, Mark, because God knows you’re always right. So right, in fact, that you don’t even need to explain anything, ever -”

“If you paid attention instead of selectively hearing -”

“Right, I’m the one who never pays attention -”

“- and interpreting everything to go along with your martyr’s vision of the world -”

“- to anything besides a goddamn computer -”

“- you would know that I’ve already tried to explain multiple fucking times, Wardo. You would know what I’ve been trying to say.”

“Maybe I do, I just don’t give a shit,” Eduardo says nastily, because how dare he, how dare he act as if everything was Eduardo being dramatic and misunderstanding, and not Mark being a back-stabbing asshole, as if he has any right to call him Wardo now, or to speak to him at all.

And Mark – Mark flinches. His mouth opens, but no invective comes out, nothing comes out at all.

Eduardo should probably feel guilty about that. Instead, he feels a mixture of triumph and bitterness, so powerful he’s almost sick with it.

“Um,” says Chris, and Eduardo blinks at him. He’d forgotten there was anyone else there. “Maybe we should get back to the, you know, actual purpose of this meeting -”

“I’m not fucking lying, Chris, so drop it.”

“You just have to make everything difficult, don’t you?” Eduardo says. “You don’t even realize how – how lucky you are, for one, that I even agreed to come here and go along with this, that I’m doing you a favour here. You feel entitled to it, after all, as if I couldn’t have just ignored it, or – or talked to the press, for that matter. Told them the truth right away.”

“I know you don’t pay attention to important documents that you sign, Eduardo, but there’s this little thing called an NDA -”

Eduardo laughs unpleasantly. “You’d sue me for pushing its boundaries a little? I would love to see that, Mark – you trying to persuade a jury that I’ve done you wrong. Because I’d let it go to trial, I wouldn’t be such a coward that I’d settle -”

“Fuck you, Eduardo, you’re the one whose lawyers suggested and drew up the settlement in the first place, and you signed off on it more easily than I did.”

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