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The Social Network: the kink meme!

It's Complicated: But sexy!


zuckonitkinkeme zuckonitkinkeme wrote in tsn_kinkmeme
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[PART SEVEN] - CLOSED
quick note; GUYS. please be aware that if you posted a prompt in part six and it is now screened, i have posted them to the post already - so that you guys don't have to. thanks for being patient and making the fill-a-thon such a success!

sorry i didn't get much of delicious done; i lacked the internet over the break but rest assured i have absolutely nothing to do so will get it, hopefully.


THE SOCIAL NETWORK KINK MEME


ASK THE MODS * FAQ * DISCUSSION * RESEARCH * FILL LIST * PART ONE * PART ONE (OVERFLOW) * PART TWO * PART TWO (OVERFLOW) * PART THREE * (PART THREE (OVERFLOW) * PART FOUR * PART FIVE * PART SIX


GENERAL RULES;

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 ;))
WARN FOR COMMON TRIGGERS, PLEASE




FORMAT OF PROMPTS;


♥ 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)
♥ anyone, everyone, no one? Use "Other." (e.g. Sean/Other)
♥ put [GEN] before GEN prompts.




FILLS;


♥ please don't embed. link to images/videos.
♥ no locked material. this includes communities, even if membership is open.
♥ fills can be posted anonymously or not.
♥ fills can be anything: fic, art, vid, fanmix, podfic, etc.
♥ 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.






[ARCHIVING]

[DELICIOUS]

[UNFILLED REQUESTS]

[FILLED REQUESTS]

[FLAT VIEW]


have fun!

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



PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING;

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 three, four, five or six over here again. the delicious is around for people to find prompts they may not have already seen. (prompts for parts one and two are now up for reposting.)

NEW RULE;

PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE 'FILL' RULES. THERE HAS BEEN A CHANGE. thank you.
Tags:

Mark/Eduardo - Mark writes love codes for Eduardo

(Anonymous)
Mark can't use words, so he uses codes to profess his infatuation with Wardo. In binary, hex, CSS, the whole deal.

Bonus points if Dustin's the one to translate it.

You can find text to code translators online, if you need to.

Cryptography For Beginners (1/?)

(Anonymous)
At first, Eduardo thinks the e-mail is spam.

It's claiming to be from Mark Zuckerberg, for one thing. Eduardo hasn't spoken to, e-mailed or even looked at Mark since the settlement two years ago, and he's perfectly happy to keep it that way. The second thing is that the subject of the e-mail is ciphertext, and the body of the e-mail is just an incomprehensible sequence of numbers:

10038259 10038205 10038263 10051970 10052049 10052045 10052048 10052048 10052059 9984929 9985000 9984934 9985004 9984929 10038162 10038164 10038146 10038153 10038209 10038144 10038159 10038209 9984992 9985010 9985010 9985001 9985006 9985005 9984996 9984943 9985752 9985681 9985752 9985684 9985687 9985678 9985693 9985752 9985665 9985687 9985677 9985750

It's possible that someone is just spoofing Mark's e-mail address. Dustin once tried to explain how easy it was to do that, but Eduardo had tuned him out after he said the word "telnet," so he doesn't really know any of the details of how to pull it off. But it's apparently easy enough that Dustin thought that maybe Eduardo would be able to do it himself, and so it must be pretty damn easy.

The problem with that theory is that the only people Eduardo knows who are capable of doing something like that are the same people who would have to face Mark's wrath for doing something like this. Ken Thomas -- who thinks it's the height of comedy to change the height all of the chairs in the conference rooms so that everyone has to awkwardly re-position themselves during meetings -- can barely figure out what the difference is between BCC and CC is. Tim Wagner -- who shares an office with Eduardo and spends 70% of his day on Facebook -- can barely figure out what a USB port is. Dustin may have stuck by Mark during the depositions, but he's not the kind of person who would fuck with Eduardo's head like this for shits and giggles.

Then again, Eduardo didn't think Mark would do anything like that, either.

It's been established that he's not such a great judge of Mark's character, after all.

He gets another e-mail from Mark five minutes later.

Subject: decryption

- ASCII
- decimal
- bitwise XOR by character
- key #1 is the date of the Christmas party


It's almost as cryptic as the first e-mail, and all of this feels a little off. Mark, for all his backstabbing, doesn't play mind games. On the other hand, Eduardo doesn't really know how Mark works. He never has. The pointer of Eduardo's mouse hovers over the delete button for a very long time. He should do it, should just kick Mark the fuck out of his life for good. But in a way, that's letting Mark win. Figuring out the puzzle is also letting Mark win, but if Eduardo manages to decrypt the message, then he won't keep himself up at night wondering what the fuck Mark is doing to him this time around. If he's going to punch Mark for this, he wants to know exactly why he's doing it.

He decides to write a reply instead.

Subject: Re: decryption

What the fuck is this about, Mark?


Mark's reply is almost instantaneous. Figures that he's finally learned how to respond to e-mail in a timely manner.

Subject: Re: Re: decryption

It'll make sense eventually.


Eduardo wonders whether or not it's worth the hassle to throw his laptop against the wall. it belongs to him and not his company, but he has family pictures and his resume and his music collection on the hard drive, and even with backups it'd still be annoying to recover it all. Plus, decent laptops are expensive.

It'd probably be a lot more cathartic if he threw it at Mark's face anyway.

Re: Cryptography For Beginners (1/?)

I'm all excited for this fill and your characterization for Eduardo is <3

Re: Cryptography For Beginners (1/?)

It'd probably be a lot more cathartic if he threw it at Mark's face anyway.

ahahahah oh Eduardo..

amazing start, anon.

Re: Cryptography For Beginners (1/?)

I'M SO HAPPY THIS IS BEING FILLED!!! I really liked reading this first part and cannot wait for more!
:D :D :D :D :D

Re: Cryptography For Beginners (1/?)

(Anonymous)
YAY!!
love this start. im excited already :D

Re: Cryptography For Beginners (1/?)

(Anonymous)
What a great start! Can't wait for more!

Cryptography For Beginners (2a/?)

(Anonymous)
And the thing is, Eduardo is mostly over Mark, as much as anyone is ever over a spectacularly disastrous break up. Never mind that they weren't even dating at the time.

Eduardo is adjusting to life after graduating from Harvard. He's been meeting the right people, dropping the right hints, investigating the right opportunities. He has a job in New York at the moment, doing low level statistical work at a venture capital firm. It's not much, but it's giving him a feel for the business that he wouldn't get from going it alone. He's got an office that he shares with two other people, and he has an apartment that sometimes looks more like a closet even though he could do better with the money he got from the settlement. He has a neighbor who will give him dinners in tiny tupperware containers because she thinks he's too thin for his own good, and he has a guy who always remembers his order at the deli, and he has a girl he smiles at on the street as they walk past each other, even though he doesn't know her name.

What Eduardo doesn't have is the time or the patience to deal with Mark's bullshit all over again.

---

"What the fuck is he trying to tell me?" he asks Dustin over the phone.

Eduardo can almost see Dustin shrug all the way across the country. "I have no idea, man. Mark doesn't tell me personal shit, especially not when he's evil-geniusing. You know that."

On Eduardo's screen, he has the Wikipedia pages for "bitwise operator" and "ASCII" open. It all makes sense to him in pieces, but he doesn't quite know how to put it all together just yet. Mark is the only one who knows that, and no one knows what the fuck is going on in Mark's head. This is low even for him. "I'm not asking for his social security number, here. I just want to know if I should be worried that Mark is going to sue me or trying to exact revenge on me by making me go insane or something."

Dustin says, "I hate to say it, but if Mark was going to sue you, you'd already know about it, and Mark doesn't hate you enough to want to make you go insane." He sounds almost apologetic.

"But he does hate me enough to send me completely incomprehensible numbers that will probably make me go insane," Eduardo says. He rubs his forehead. Fucking Mark. Why does everything have to come back to him?

"I'll do my best to pry it out of him, man, but he'll probably just stare at me until I go away. He's a little terrifying like that," Dustin says. He makes a noise that almost sounds like a shiver, and Eduardo doesn't hate him or feel resentful or anything. It's a lot easier to remember why he liked hanging out with Dustin in the first place. Dustin used to sit in his room and heckle Mark while Mark had his headphones on, completely wired in. The insults usually didn't make any sense, a weird collection of non sequiturs and technical jargon, and half the time it was probably offensive to the French, considering the way Dustin liked to butcher the accent and every word in the language. Eduardo would just watch from the common room, as Dustin's expressions became ever more exaggerated and Mark's expression didn't even flicker even the tiniest bit, and Eduardo would end up laughing so hard his sides would hurt.

"Thanks, Dustin," Eduardo says.

Cryptography For Beginners (2b/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-06-29 08:08 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Cryptography For Beginners (2c/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-06-29 08:10 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (2c/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-06-29 08:28 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (2c/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-06-29 10:28 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (2c/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-06-30 08:29 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (2c/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-06-30 09:24 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (2c/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-01 01:58 am (UTC)(Expand)

Cryptography For Beginners (3a/?)

(Anonymous)
It's late in New York (but not for California), almost midnight, and Eduardo's has been spacing out in all of his meetings all day. He's still trying to puzzle out what Mark's endgame is here, trying to figure out if Mark is setting him up for even more pain and suffering down the line. Eduardo's figured this part out, at least, the part where he learns that people aren't fundamentally decent, and you can't fucking trust anyone. His dad used to tell him that, when he was younger, and Eduardo had thought it was one of those things that adults said, like freaking out over weed and sex, that turn out to be a little bullshit. He figures that maybe parents do know better, after all.

Eduardo sits down on his bed, presses his phone to his ear. "Do you mean it?" he asks.

There's a quiet moment on the other end of the line. Eduardo can hear the slow exhalation of breath. "Yeah," Mark says, having the decency not to pretend like he doesn't know what Eduardo's talking about.

Mark sounds the same as he always does. He still sounds like Mark, still a little detached from his own words. "What the fuck, Mark?" Eduardo says, but he's not as angry as it could be. This is at least half an apology from Mark, and that's what he's always wanted, right? For Mark to acknowledge his fucking existence?

"I do mean it," Mark says. "All of it. But I think it's better if you figure it out yourself."

Eduardo rubs his forehead. "How many keys will I need to decrypt the whole thing?" It's always like this, every single fucking time, and you would think Eduardo would know better by now. Mark giveth, and Mark taketh away.

Mark pauses. "Five," he says. "You've already figured out the first one." He yawns. Eduardo can imagine Mark rubbing his eyes and curling up on the nearest patch of mattress he can find, the way he always used to after a long coding stretch. Eduardo used to think it was cute.

It can't be that late out in California. Eduardo wonders if Mark is still at work or if he's gone home for the night. Mark never really had a conception of a work-life balance. Eduardo's been carefully maintaining his own. He goes out to the bars with his coworkers and his loose circle of friends on the right nights, and he goes to concerts or plays or Broadway musicals with his closer friends, and he goes running in the mornings with the cute intern who works on the floor below him. She laughs at his stupid jokes, and she doesn't seem like she wants to set his apartment on fire. Things would probably be different if she didn't have a boyfriend, but she does. "Four more, then?" Eduardo says. He can handle four more of these. If he keeps telling himself that, it might actually become true.

"Four more," Mark agrees.

After Eduardo hangs up from the call, he realizes that he's just had an entire conversation with Mark without lawyers present, and it didn't even end with destruction of property. Eduardo hadn't been sure that was even possible anymore.

---

He finds the next key in his inbox in the morning.

Subject: key #2

- your investment


Eduardo stares at it while he's shoving some cereal in his mouth for breakfast. At first he thinks it's about his investment portfolio, but that makes no sense. Mark wouldn't bother to go through the effort of breaking into Eduardo's accounts, and Mark doesn't give a shit about Eduardo's shares in Microsoft and Google. Eduardo has trouble believing that Mark gives a shit about him at all.

And yet, Eduardo has a message that's been encrypted five times with five different keys, because Mark can't fucking talk or write things out like a normal person. Eduardo really misses the days when Mark kept a blog, because that was the best way to keep track of Mark's mental state at any given moment in time. Talking to him in person wasn't nearly as useful.

Cryptography For Beginners (3b/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-01 12:09 pm (UTC)(Expand)

Cryptography For Beginners (4a/?)

(Anonymous)
"Are you sure you haven't hired someone to slip Mark happy pills or something?" Dustin asks, the next time they talk on the phone. Mark still hasn't sent Eduardo any clues about the next key, and Eduardo's considering how he might be able to try all of the possible keys. Unfortunately, he'd have to learn how to program first, and he doesn't have the time for that.

"Wait, what?" Eduardo says. He flops down on the bed, because he's not sure he wants to have this conversation while standing upright.

"He smiled today," Dustin says around a mouthful of chips. Eduardo can hear him chew it, which is really just disgusting. "And then he even told one of the developers he thought her code was clean and well-structured."

Eduardo snorts. "That's not grounds for accusing me of drugging him, man." He can't even imagine what it must be like to work for Mark now. He was bad enough when he was constantly distracted and sleep-deprived from working on Facebook non-stop. Now that he has work days and a lot more people to manage, Mark must be insufferable.

"I think there may have been some dimple, dude. Chris even searched his office for mysterious-looking pods. You must have given him the good stuff." Dustin sounds like he's just discovered peanut butter and banana sandwiches or something. Eduardo can practically feel the glee radiating from the phone.

That makes Eduardo's neck heat up with embarrassment for some reason. "Whatever," he mutters.

---

A few days later, he gets a friend request from Mark. The e-mail sits in his Inbox, mocking him with its utter absurdity.

Mark Zuckerberg wants to be friends on Facebook.

Eduardo focuses on his work, trying not to remember the warm, pleased feeling he got when Dustin told him that he was making Mark happy. He has reports to write, people to call. His boss isn't an asshole any more than anyone else Eduardo has ever worked with in the industry, but he's still demanding and loud. Eduardo barely has time to think, and he likes it that way. Much less upsetting than wondering why Mark wants to be friends again. There are three more keys left. Mark just needs to give him the rest of them, and then it'll be over. He won't have to deal with this anymore.

And then Mark calls. "I'm not fucking with you," he says by way of greeting.

"You could have fooled me," Eduardo says, sleepy because it's one in the morning and Mark can't fucking add three to anything.

"It wasn't -- I wasn't mocking you or anything," Mark says. The usual edge in his voice is worn smooth, and Eduardo hates him so fucking much for having the audacity to be earnest and almost nice right now, when it's too fucking late at night. Eduardo still has nightmares about the depositions sometimes. He'll wake up at night gasping and twisted up in his sheets, because he can still see the cold, blank look on Mark's face as Eduardo did his best not to fall apart on the other side of the table.

"Okay," Eduardo says, closing his eyes so he doesn't have to stare at his ceiling. "I believe you."

---

There's another e-mail from Mark in his Inbox in the morning.

Subject: key #3

- the number of friends you have


That's almost too easy, because there's only one metric that Mark would ever use. Eduardo hasn't really used Facebook since the dilution. He still has his account, and he still gets e-mails every once in a while from Facebook, but he's done his best to ignore it. He has a pile of friend requests that have accumulated (including Mark's) over the years, but he hasn't touched them. Right now, Eduardo has 122 friends, and that number hasn't changed since he decided to remove anyone who even remotely had a connection to Mark.

It's becoming easy to see patterns in the numbers now. The next word is mostly likely going to come out of the 8 14 24 19 91 26 21 91 chunk of his current message, so he decodes that first as a chance to verify that he has the right key.

He tries 122 first. What he gets back is this:

r t b i ! ` o !

All the numbers are valid characters, close but not quite. Eduardo doesn't have time to dwell on it, because at that time it's already seven, and he needs to head out to work.

Cryptography For Beginners (4b/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-02 01:04 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (4b/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-02 02:40 pm (UTC)(Expand)

Cryptography For Beginners (5a/?)

(Anonymous)
The Thursday before Mark's visit, Eduardo gets a Facebook message from Kumar, one of the older members of the Harvard Investment Association. He's passing through New York on his way back to Boston to visit his girlfriend, and he wants to know if Eduardo has time for a drink on Friday. It sounds great. Eduardo's always liked Kumar. He always knew how to crack the right joke to lighten the tension when people started getting ridiculously intense about the ethics (or lack thereof) of short selling, and when they took Econometric methods together, he was always willing to point Eduardo in the right direction when Eduardo got stuck on a problem.

Friday is really bad. Ken fucks up some numbers, and Eduardo is forced to scramble to get the right ones on all the documents while everyone else looks confused. After that, having a drink with an old friend sounds like the best idea Eduardo has ever heard.

"You're looking like you need one of these more than I do," Kumar says as he waves down a waitress. Eduardo lets him order for him, because Kumar was a beer connoisseur in college, and he's never steered Eduardo wrong before.

"Yeah, tell me about it," Eduardo says. He's not out to get drunk, but he's definitely willing to go for tipsy.

They chat for a bit, catching up on mutual friends. Kumar's not quite ready to propose to his girlfriend just yet, even though they've been dating for as long as Eduardo's known him. Eduardo still hangs out with one of Kumar's best friends, who he knows through the Phoenix. The weather in San Francisco is really nice this time of year. And then Kumar decides to drop the bomb.

"I just started up my own firm this year with a few guys I met at Stanford," he says. "You've got a good feel for the tech industry, man. Where you are right now is bullshit. You have more experience with startups than the rest of them combined."

Eduardo says, "And look where that turned out, huh." He takes a good long sip of his beer. Maybe he does want to get drunk.

"Zuckerberg's a dick, don't get me wrong, but he didn't ask you to be his CFO because you're a total moron. I'm sure he had his reasons for pulling that shit with the dilution, but I don't care what they are. If you're willing to leave your job and move out to California, we'd love to have you," Kumar says. "I wasn't joking about how nice San Francisco is right now."

"Shit," Eduardo says. "Give me a week, and I'll get back to you on that."

Kumar says, "Take your time. I know it'd a big change for you. It was good seeing you again, man." He shakes Eduardo's hand before he leaves.

---

The problem with taking up Kumar's offer isn't that it involves quitting his current job or that it involves moving out to California. Eduardo's more than happy to tell his boss at work to fuck off, and he likes the thought of getting away from the mood-swinging weather of the East Coast after four years in Boston and two years in New York.

No, the problem with taking up Kumar's offer is that it's fucking terrifying. Eduardo can barely sleep Friday night, because all he can think about is all the ways this whole thing could fall. Sure, he has enough money to make sure he's set for life, and he is completely aware of the fact that you don't get anywhere without taking chances. It's just that he's already gone through one spectacular disaster in his life, and he's not sure if he's ready for another.

Mark shows up in Grand Central Saturday evening with a backpack and a duffel bag slung over one shoulder. He looks the same as he always does, wearing a Harvard t-shirt underneath a gray zip-up hoodie along with his signature fuck-you flip flops. He looks more like himself than the kid playing dress-up in a nice shirt and tie sitting across from Eduardo during the depositions.

Grand Central Terminal is one of Eduardo's favorite places in all of New York City. There's something about the grandeur of the building that feels like New York to him, like it's part of this huge sprawling city that Eduardo currently calls his home.

Cryptography For Beginners (5b/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-03 11:19 am (UTC)(Expand)
Cryptography For Beginners (5c/?) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-03 11:20 am (UTC)(Expand)

Cryptography For Beginners (6a/8)

(Anonymous)
After Mark's left on a taxi headed for JFK, Eduardo finds a photograph taped to his bathroom mirror.

It's a picture of a water gun fight on a small grassy field. Eduardo doesn't recognize most of the people in the picture, but he does recognize Dustin. Dustin is getting sprayed in the face by a Super Soaker, his face scrunched up in self-defense. He's wielding his own Super Soaker and laughing with his whole body, big and over the top, the same way Dustin always is. There are a few trees and a tennis court in the background. Eduardo has no idea what it means.

On the back of the picture, written with a Sharpie and Dustin's loopy handwriting:

Dustin "the Mos" Moskovitz & Co.
the center of the known universe (or close by, anyway), '06


In Mark's chicken-scratch handwriting and a ballpoint pen:

key #4

There's an arrow pointing to "the center of the known universe."

It's puzzling, sure, but Eduardo doesn't have time to really dwell on it, because he has whole lot of other shit he needs to take care of, and all of it is a lot more important than whatever else Mark has to say to him.

He calls up Kumar. "I want in," he says, and he doesn't give himself time to second-guess himself.

It turns out that Eduardo can start in about a month, plenty of time for him to quit his job and to pack all his things and go.

He gets his formal offer letter by e-mail in the morning.

He turns in his formal two weeks notice on Tuesday.

He doesn't tell his father anything about it, which is probably the most stressful part of this whole thing.

It's still fucking terrifying, and it's all happening so fast, but Eduardo is hanging on this time. This time, he'll make sure to come through it with his limbs still attached and his head still on. He's not some twenty-one year old kid with more money than sense anymore, and he's not going into this confused and uncertain and relying on Mark to steer them straight. He's got his eyes open. He knows exactly where he's going.

---

"No can do," Dustin says, when Eduardo finally gets the time to ask him about the picture. "Mark got my silence as payment for telling me what he's up to. I kind of like my desk where it is, and if I'm not too careful, he might put me with the sysadmins. But, you know, you'd be really proud of how annoying I was when I was trying to get the truth out of him."

"Damn," Eduardo says. He was really hoping that this one would be easy.

"You know that you could probably brute force the rest of the keys, right?" Dustin says. "You probably could have brute forced the whole thing, to tell the truth. With this sort of encryption mechanism, encrypting it several times doesn't really make it any more secure. It just means you put more effort into encrypting it. XOR is commutative."

Eduardo says, "You know that I'm not good enough at programming to brute force something like that, right?"

"Oh, right," Dustin says, sounding thoughtful. "And Mark would probably take away my third monitor if I ever helped you with that."

"Third monitor?" Eduardo asks.

"And if I brought in one of my own, Mark would probably instigate some kind of freakish cold war, and I would end up with nethack removed from my computer at work, and then how would I know if my female archaeologist can get the Amulet of Yendor and ascend? Huh?"

"You're speaking a foreign language to me at this point," Eduardo says, "but it's okay. I get it. Mark's vengeance is cold and unmerciful." It comes out less bitter than it sounds in his head.

In the end, he's kind of glad that Dustin can't help him out with this one. Eduardo wants to see how Mark has set the rest of it up, wants to pick apart these tiny bits of Mark-logic and figure out what they mean. Eduardo wants to play all the way through, no cheating.

And besides, he's never been a big fan of walkthroughs anyway.

Cryptography For Beginners (6b/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-04 11:02 am (UTC)(Expand)
Cryptography For Beginners (6c/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-04 11:04 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (6c/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-04 11:10 am (UTC)(Expand)

Cryptography For Beginners (7a/8)

(Anonymous)
In the morning, he gets another e-mail.

Subject: key #5

-once there was a way to get back home


---

Dustin lives about five minutes away from Facebook, so he volunteers to walk to work every morning and let Eduardo drive into San Francisco with his car. Eduardo hates the commute, because it's long and exhausting, and the majority of it is traffic. If Eduardo never has to see a bumper sticker that says "You can't fix stupid, but you can vote it out of office," ever again, it will still be too soon.

He has found an apartment in SoMa that he really likes, (698 Natoma Street, Apt #8), close to a bus line that will take him straight to work, but the lease won't start for another month yet. Eduardo is stuck in Dustin's house until then.

Kumar's firm is a lot smaller than the one Eduardo just left, which means Eduardo is supposed to do the work of three people, or at least have the skills of three of them. He finds that he likes it, likes the added responsibility and the added work and the extra pressure. Their office is cramped and intimate compare to what Eduardo's used to. Everyone is expected to pull their own weight.

His mentor is a woman named Nadine, who is terrifying in her sheer competence. She makes Eduardo feel like a fourth grader trying to understand calculus. On the first day of work, she hands him a stack of reports and tells him that she wants them sorted into categories by the end of the day. Eduardo does the best he can while trying not to feel like he's in a race against the clock. At the end of the day, she looks over Eduardo's work and tells him as nicely as possible that he's an idiot for accidentally grouping the flourishing e-commerce company and the ambitious-but-flawed social networking startup together even if their feature sets overlap.

"But you haven't lost us millions of dollars yet," she says by way of encouragement. "I consider that an accomplishment."

Weirdly enough, Eduardo is actually flattered. "You know, I think I'm going to really like it here," he says.

She just laughs at him and hands him another stack of reports to read for tomorrow.

Kumar takes them out to drinks that night. They do the cheesy, touristy thing of taking a cable car to the bar, and Eduardo ends up hanging on to the side, a warm summer breeze on his face. There's this moment, where they climb to the top of a hill. Eduardo can see the city stretched out in front of him, with the bay just beyond it, almost golden in the evening light, and he realizes, all of a sudden, that he's happy -- truly fucking happy. He doesn't think he's ever been happy like this before.

He grins as they start their descent, and Kumar slaps his shoulder, grinning with him.

Cryptography For Beginners (7b/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-05 06:11 am (UTC)(Expand)

Cryptography For Beginners (8a/8)

(Anonymous)
One day after work, Eduardo gets back to Dustin's place to find an unfamiliar car in the driveway and a sock on the front door.

He calls Mark up. "I know this is kind of weird, but I think I've just been sexiled from Dustin's house, and I need someplace to sleep for the night."

Mark snorts. "So that was what that was all about," he says. "I'm still at Facebook if you want to come find me here."

Eduardo still hasn't been inside the new offices yet. The last time he was here, he may have nodded at some confused-looking Facebook employees walking by in the parking lot, but that's about it. Mark's PA is the one to greet Eduardo at the door, because it's after normal work hours and everything is locked down. She takes him up to Mark's office, which only contains a simple metal desk, a couch, and a swiveling desk chair by way of furniture. Mark isn't coding. He's on speaker phone with someone from Australia from the sound of it, talking APAC strategies.

Eduardo still has problems believing that Mark is an adult now, that Mark is capable of running a company that is larger than six guys sitting in a room in front of their computers. He watches Mark working here, his eyes narrow and intent and sharp, and the idea gets a lot less ridiculous.

After Mark's done with the conversation, he scribbles some quick notes in a notebook and grabs his backpack. Whatever else Mark might be, he still looks like a college student, like he's just wandered out of the CS labs and stumbled into the offices of one of the fastest growing companies in America.

"Ready to go?" Eduardo says.

"Yeah," Mark says. He nods to his PA as they walk past her.

Eduardo follows Mark's car back to Mark's place. It's late enough that most of the traffic has cleared out, and the roads are empty and dark. Eduardo tries not to find it too unsettling.

When they get to Mark's front door, Mark says, "You still haven't figured out the last clue, have you?" He's fumbling with his keys, figuring out which one is which. Mark's house large but modest, plain-looking. Mark's always had a weird relationship with money. Eduardo's never understood it.

Eduardo says, "I hate to break it to you, Mark, but there's a difference between difficult and impossible."

Mark says, "I know that." He gets the front door open and pauses for a moment before deactivating the security system. "The security code is 1-4-0-1. You'll need it to get out in the morning." He glances at Eduardo before turning away.

And maybe it's just because Mark was just talking about it or maybe it's because Eduardo's tired, but something lines up in Eduardo's head, and he thinks, Oh.

Mark shows Eduardo where the guest room is, points out the bathroom and the kitchen before he heads into the study on the second floor. "I've got some more stuff to take care of. Let me know if you need anything. The wireless network with the strongest signal is the one you want to use." He studies Eduardo for a moment, and that feeling comes back, that crazy, lurching, exhilarating feeling. Eduardo thinks they might be on the edge of something, ready tip over, ready to find out what's on the other side. But then Mark turns away, and Eduardo remembers that this is how it always is. He'll always be chasing after Mark, trying to get that feeling back.

It's stupid to think that things might be any different now.

---

Eduardo has his laptop with him, and as soon as he has a spare moment, he looks at the last encrypted section of Mark's e-mail. It feels like a lifetime ago when Mark sent it to him, and maybe it was.

He uses 1401 as the key to decrypt the rest of the message, and he gets this:

32 105 32 108 111 118 101 32 121 111 117 46

He's almost afraid to translate it, to find out what it means. He takes a deep breath before pulling up his new favorite ASCII table, and then he types out the translation of each character with shaky fingers. He stares at the result on his screen.

  i    l o v e    y o u .

Cryptography For Beginners (8b/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-06 06:23 am (UTC)(Expand)
Cryptography For Beginners (8c/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-06 06:26 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (8c/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-06 10:51 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (8c/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-06 11:06 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (8c/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-06 12:57 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (8c/8) - neery, 2011-07-07 03:40 am (UTC)(Expand)
Re: Cryptography For Beginners (8c/8) - (Anonymous), 2011-07-08 01:29 am (UTC)(Expand)
author anon here - (Anonymous), 2011-07-08 05:46 am (UTC)(Expand)

Cryptography For Beginners (repost)

Thanks for all the lovely comments! I've reposted a slightly longer version of this story to a bunch of different places. Take your pick!

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