Eduardo’s phone was ringing.
He attempted to juggle his coffee, bagel and folders so that he could grab it from his shoulder bag but by the time he’d managed to get his hand stuffed inside, it had rung off. He cursed under his breath, shoved his bagel in his mouth and flicked his eyes over the almost-packed car of the A train. There didn’t seem to be any room for him but he pushed his way on anyway, mindful of the time. When he finally chewed his way through half his bagel, he thumbed at his phone until one missed call: Mark Zuckerberg came up and he cursed again.
He hadn’t thought about Mark much at all during his stay in New York but they had managed to find the time to call and text despite that. Not thinking about Mark was easy. Ignoring him, not so much. Eduardo wanted to be where the company was and he really wanted to be where Mark was but he knew that Facebook needed the money.
He continued to thumb through his phone, aware of the fact that he had no signal but it was a sort of comfort to read through Mark’s abrupt but oddly insightful comments. There was a lot more mention of Sean than Eduardo was comfortable with but he was content knowing that most of his annoyance and jealousy came from Sean being where Eduardo wanted to be.
There wasn’t a day passed that he didn’t think about hopping on a plane and flying out to San Fransisco. There also wasn’t a day that went by where he didn’t think about getting the money for Mark — for Facebook — and seeing the look on his face when Eduardo told him he had managed to get the angel investment he so badly wanted. VC’s were what Eduardo needed but trying to get to some who didn’t know his father was becoming increasingly more difficult.
Threading his way through the mass of people trying to squeeze through the doors at his stop, Eduardo threw his empty coffee cup in the trash and was startled by the harsh sunlight. He loved the summer, just not when he was tramping through the subway on blisteringly hot days, stifling amongst the crowds and almost unbearable between the buildings.
Walking back the two blocks to his apartment, Eduardo sighed and called Mark back. He almost gave up when it reached eight rings and Mark still hadn’t answered but Eduardo knew from experience that if Mark was wired in, one of the others would sometimes pick up. Eduardo hoped it wasn’t Sean.
Eduardo rolled his eyes. “Hi, Dustin.”
“Unfortunately Marky Mark can’t come to the phone right now.”
Snorting, Eduardo pulled his bag further up his shoulder. “Is he wired in?”
There was a pause and muffled talking and then Dustin was back. “He was but somehow my plaintive cry of your name has awakened him from eternal silicon slumber.”
“You realise none of that made sense, right?” Eduardo asked, frowning as he dug in his bag for his apartment key. Cursing under his breath, he dropped the bag on the floor and rooted through it. “Put him on?”
“You don’t want to talk to me?” Dustin sounded more upset than he had any right to but Eduardo had known him too long to be fooled.
“I promise if you put Mark on the phone I will bring you back gifts from New York.”
Pulling the phone away from his ear, Eduardo waited for Dustin to stop cheering. Eventually Mark said, “Wardo,” and Eduardo grinned.
“Yes.” There was nothing else forthcoming and Eduardo sighed, pushing open the door to his building.
“You realise you’re supposed to follow that up with more words, right?”
“I was closing down my laptop,” Mark said quickly, and Eduardo could hear a door close. “You’re still in New York.”
Eduardo really hoped they weren’t going to argue about this again. He had spent too long trying to tell Mark that what he was doing was important and that he needed to be here but apparently none of that was making any sense to Mark. He opened his mouth to say the same old things but then stopped, leaning against the stairwell wall and staring down at his feet. “I want to be in California, Mark.”
He could hear Mark breathing for a while on the phone. “Facebook is here.”
“I know that.” There was a bite to his tone but Eduardo didn’t even try and cover it up. “Look, give me a few days and then I’ll fly out.”
“We don’t need ads, Wardo.”
“No,” Eduardo admitted slowly, knowing that it was probably the first time he had done so. “You need VCs.”
There was nothing that Mark could say to that. It was true. Eduardo just didn’t know how he was supposed to go about getting them. He was more and more aware with every call and text that Sean was getting closer and closer to finding one. Eduardo didn’t want that to happen because he was the CFO, he would find the angel investment.
There was no mistaking the anger in Mark’s tone and Eduardo could picture the look on his face all too well. It was expressive enough if you knew where to look and Eduardo had stared at it enough to know. “Look, you know as well as I do that you can’t just walk into an office and walk back out with an angel investment.”
“Then get Sean to find you an investor,” Eduardo snapped, hanging up on Mark and opening his apartment door. He couldn’t do this anymore and if he had to hear Sean’s name one more time he was going to reach through the phone and strangle Mark.
- - -
“I know,” Eduardo said, rubbing his fingers over his eyes and leaning forward in the chair. He had Dustin on speaker phone so that he could make his dinner but he’d given up halfway through, Dustin complaining that Eduardo hanging up on Mark had left him in a bad mood for the rest of the night. “It’s just easy to make him one when he’s where I want to be.”
“You should be talking to Chris about this,” Dustin complained. Eduardo snorted and didn’t reply. Chris would probably do a better job at consoling Eduardo but he didn’t really want consoling. He wanted to know what to do and as the only person Eduardo really knew that was close to Mark right now, Dustin was that person. However unfortunate that was.
Stretching, Eduardo put his hands in his pockets and leaned against the counter. “How bad is it?”
“Wardo,” Dustin sighed. “If you came out, you’d know.”
“Don’t start,” Eduardo snapped. “You know as well as I do why I’m out here.”
“There’s no shame in admitting you can’t find what you’re looking for.” Eduardo opened his mouth to reply to that, more angry than he ever expected to be at Dustin but before he could say anything Dustin was talking again. “I didn’t mean it like that and you know it. Mark needs you, dude, even if you don’t realise it.”
“Don’t call me dude,” Eduardo said, needing something to hold on to in his anger. It rankled more that Dustin was right. “Let him tell me that.”
Dustin laughed. “He would if he wasn’t so busy ripping into Sean for being Sean.”
Eduardo was still angry but Mark yelling at Sean when, as far as he knew, there was no cause for it was intriguing. “You should probably intervene.”
“Why?” Dustin sounded distant as he replied but there was commotion on the other end of the line for a second and it was Mark who said, “Wardo?”
His anger faded beneath the need to apologise because he didn’t like fighting with Mark. “Sorry.”
“For what.” It wasn’t a question and Eduardo could only guess that he knew what it was for. “Dustin told me you wanted to talk to me.”
“Did he?” Eduardo rolled his eyes. So much for Dustin intervening. “Don’t argue with Sean, Mark.”
There was a silence that Eduardo guessed was surprise. Or as much surprise as Mark ever allowed himself to feel. He grinned. It was nice to see Mark off balance for once. It didn't happen often and Eduardo treasured any victory he could.
“It wasn’t arguing.”
“Oh? I could hear you on this end of the phone.” It was a lie but Mark didn’t have to know that. “He’s trying to help you.”
“I thought he was trying to exploit me?” Mark was always better at hurting with his words than Eduardo was.
Eduardo grabbed the phone and took Mark off of speaker phone. “You know what I mean, Mark. Stop being such an ignorant dick. I’m not doing this to be difficult, you asshole.”
“So why are you doing it then?”
They couldn’t have a conversation lately without fighting and Eduardo was just getting tired. He sank down onto his bed and ran a hand through his hair. “I want this to work, okay? I don’t want to fight with you, not about New York and definitely not about Sean. I’m trying, Mark.”
There was a pause and then, “I know.”
“I’m sorry I’m not there but I really am trying to get help for Facebook.”
“Facebook doesn’t need help, Wardo, it needs you.”
Eduardo couldn’t believe they were actually talking about this. Mark wasn’t really one to sit down and talk about it because it was, apparently, ‘too boring to focus on’. He was well aware that a subject that didn’t hold Mark’s attention wasn’t going to be focused on for long. “I’ll be there. I just need to do this first. I know you don’t understand.”
There was nothing that Eduardo could really say to that. “I promise. I’ll be there soon.”
They spoke for little while longer but neither of them really had the heart to keep the conversation going. Eduardo knew that Mark wanted to get back to coding so that he could pretend he didn’t have problems, and Eduardo needed to do something that didn’t remind him of what was waiting on the other side of the country.
He hung up a little while later and fell back on the bed. “How hard can it be?”
He snorted to himself and then groaned. It was definitely no cake walk to try and find an angel investment, that was for sure.
- - -
He'd come to New York hoping for VC's and advertisers were, but he was beginning to realise that though he could find them on his own, it would take everyone back in California to make everything worthwhile. Though he didn't want to admit it, he needed both Mark and Sean to make sure Facebook had the best they could find. Part of retreating to New York had been in part because of his father; Eduardo needed to research into this and actually focus, then jump on a plane and be where his company was.
- - -
Eduardo felt like banging his head against the table several times. “Yes, I realise.”
“Well,” Chris said, trailing off. Eduardo could hear the exasperation over the phone but Chris spent half his time being exasperated with his friends and the other half despairing over liking them anyway.
“I should probably fly out there.”
Chris snorted. “Yeah, you probably should. Look, Wardo, I’m not annoyed okay?”
“Could have fooled me.” Eduardo sat back on the sofa and stared up at the ceiling.
“It was something you had to do. I know that. Dustin knows that when he bothers to focus on something for longer than his attention span of five seconds.” Chris paused. “And Mark knows it.”
Eduardo rubbed a hand along his knee and bit his lip. “Yeah?”
“I don’t need to reassure you about that.”
“If you do?” Eduardo wasn’t sure he really wanted an answer to that, especially not from Chris who was scarily adept at reading all of them.
“Then you’re being an idiot.” Chris sighed. “Eduardo, there is nothing Mark wanted more this summer than to have you with him in California in the house you bought for him. You’re being stupid if you think Facebook matters the most to Mark and you know it.”
He wasn’t sure that he really was but Eduardo knew better than to say so aloud.
“Get off the damn phone to me and call him. Tell him you’ll be on the next flight out to San Fransisco.”
“Yeah, yeah. Bye Wardo.”
Eduardo hung up and grinned at the ceiling. So maybe he didn’t have as bad a group of friends as his father said he did.
- - -
Eduardo wondered how likely it was that Mark would actually be waiting for him at arrivals. There was every change that he had become so wrapped up in his coding that he would forget and Eduardo would be forced to make his own way from the airport. He was irritated and tired when he walked through the arrivals gate an hour and a half later. His bag was a dead weight on his shoulder and his feet were aching far more than he would have expected and when he looked up, he was less than surprised.
Mark was nowhere to be seen.
Cursing under his breath, Eduardo made his way through the crowd and towards the taxi ranks. He thought about calling ahead but there was no way he wanted to give Mark any expectation if he couldn’t be bothered to get himself out to the airport. He would have thought better of Dustin as well but somehow, the fact that Eduardo wasn’t out in California immediately meant that he was completely off the radar.
He didn’t register how long it took him to get to the house. The rain was spattering against the window too loud in the small car and Eduardo could feel a headache pounding behind his left eye. This day just couldn’t get any more perfect. He wanted to get inside the house, climb into bed and not leave for the next two weeks. Instead, he climbed out of the car, paid the driver and started up the path, drenched through before he’d even made it to the step.
“Sean.” Not the face Eduardo wanted to see answer the door but, if he was being true to himself, the right face for the kind of day he was having. “Where’s Mark?”
“He’s just finished a coding tear,” Sean said, phone still dangling from his right hand. His smirk was far too wide but Eduardo ignored it. Ignoring the two girls on the sofa because he was too tired to get into this with Sean when he was pretty sure that whatever Sean deserved was worse than anything his tired tongue and mind could come up with.
He dropped his bags by the door and exchanged one last heated look with Sean.
“Great,” Eduardo muttered, finally taking in the rest of the room. There was a group of interns in the kitchen, some Eduardo recognised from that day in the computer lab and others he couldn’t even pin down. Dustin was over by the window but it wasn’t until Eduardo clapped him on the shoulder that he tipped his head back, grinning.
Eduardo snorted. “Hey man.”
When Sean interrupted with, “Back to work!” Dustin ignored him and just kept grinning at Eduardo like an idiot. He was slightly impressed by the sight of Facebook in front of him but he was still more than a little annoyed by the abandonment at the airport.
He felt the punch to his arm before he heard Mark’s, “Wardo.”
Frowning, Eduardo turned to stare at him. “Hi.”
Shifting on his feet. “Is it raining?”
Eduardo felt the pounding behind his eye beginning to increase tenfold. “No Mark, the sun is shining and I strolled through the airport. Which, by the way, you weren’t there for.”
“No.” Mark chewed on the end of the red vine, seemingly contrite.
Eduardo knew better. “I asked you for one thing, Mark. One.”
“Yeah.” Sounding vague, Mark turned on his heel and gestured at the computer Dustin was working at. “You should see Facebook.”
“Tell him about the stuff I’ve been doing,” Sean interrupted.
Eduardo felt like crying but he grabbed hold of the anger instead, hands clenching into fists and glaring angrily at Mark. “Hallway, Mark. Now.”
“Please?” Eduardo asked, voice tight.
Mark paused for a second and then nodded, following Eduardo into the hallways. “How’s Christy?”
“Christy is — fine,” Eduardo replied, shutting the door. “We broke up before I left for New York.”
There was no recognition on Mark’s face but he nodded. “How was New York?”
“Don’t,” Eduardo held up a hand. “Don’t act like all we have is small talk, Mark. This is all wrong!”
“You’re not out here,” Mark snapped.
“How many times have I called you telling you that I was coming out? You know how I am with my father, don’t make faces Mark, you know.”
Mark was breathing heavily through his nose, knuckles white around the red vine in his hand. “Sean’s been setting up-”
“If you finish that sentence, I swear to god I will punch you right now. Do you think I’ve just been sitting on my ass in New York doing nothing? I’ve been looking around for VCs Mark, for this investment you so desperately need and do you know who I found?” Something shifted on Mark’s face but Eduardo was too angry to try and determine what it was. “Do you know who Peter Theil is?”
There was a long pause and then Mark dropped his hands. “Wardo.”
“Don’t, Mark.” Eduardo ran a hand over his face. “I can’t stand to be in the same room as you right now. I’m taking one of these beds and I’m staying there till morning.”
“No.” Eduardo ignored the frown starting to appear on Mark’s face. He didn’t even care right now. “You’re going to leave me alone and just stay out of my way until I’m ready to talk to you.”
- - -
Chris sounded tired and Eduardo would have felt bad about calling him but suffering a crisis at 3am needed a friend who was removed from the situation.
“Jesus,” Chris sighed. “If you’ve started this, you need to see it through.”
Eduardo nodded, even if Chris couldn’t see it. “He needs to know I’m not just going to take this. I’m doing my job.”
There was a snort from the other end of the line. “I know that, Wardo. Mark does too, when he isn’t too wrapped up in Facebook to realise it. Get him this investment and he’ll be putty in your hands.”
Tipping his head back against the bed, legs stretched out in front of him, Eduardo closed his eyes. “That isn’t what I want. He needs to realise - I need to be the one to tell him what I want, don’t I?”
It was a rhetorical question and Chris seemed to get that, humming gently over the phone. Eduardo sighed, thinking about just what he wanted. The truth was that he didn’t really know. He just needed Mark to realise that he wasn’t going to be able to pick Eduardo up and then throw him aside when something awesome and better came along.
“Look, Wardo, I agree that you need to do this but don’t forget that you’re best friends. Mark needs to know there’s a limit to how far he can push you, but don’t walk that line so tight that he believes you’re out of reach.”
Eduardo finished the call with Chris and climbed into bed. It wasn’t hard for him to know what to do next.
- - -
“Look, man, I don’t like you.” Eduardo ignored the raised eyebrow he received in return. “I really don’t care if you like me but I know you want what’s best for Facebook.”
Sean just grinned, shoving his toast around the plate.
“I want you to take a look at something for me.”
He shoved the folder across the table and ignored the look Sean shot him, like he was crazy or something. Eduardo still wasn’t a hundred percent sure he was doing the right thing but eventually, he was going to have to get used to Sean being around and if he needed to be the one to break the ice, then so be it.
“Dude!” Sean said, flipping open the folder. “What the hell.”
Eduardo allowed himself a small grin as Sean read through his portfolio. Sean’s fingers clenched against the table but Eduardo couldn’t tell whether that was from anger or annoyance. He decided to go for broke.
“I want you to come to the meeting with me and Mark.”
Sean was looking at him in a whole new light, like he was having to readjust his whole view of Eduardo. It felt good. “You know this world better than I do. You’ve been there.”
Sean snorted. “You trust me?”
“No,” Eduardo shrugged. “I don’t think I ever will but I know when I’m out of my depth.”
Nodding, Sean sat down slowly. “Cool.”
Rolling his eyes but finishing his breakfast, Eduardo felt certain he was doing the right thing.
- - -
He could hear noise and shouts from the living room but all that mattered was Mark.
Mark should probably have been in the living room with the others. They would want him in there, especially after what Eduardo had just done. He felt the touch of Mark’s hand on his shoulder and he wanted to shrug him off. He was still mad. They weren’t okay because Mark had been too ready to write Eduardo off like he meant nothing, like he didn’t deserve to be around.
“I’m still mad at you,” he said, turning his face and looking up at Mark.
Mark nodded, face unreadable. Eduardo could write a book about every single one of Mark’s expressions but the one he hated the most was the one Mark turned on him now; inscrutable.
He let out a huff of breath and curled his fingers into the duvet. “I just wanted everything, you know? I wanted Facebook because you wanted Facebook. I gave you everything because you asked for it.”
Mark finally looked a little uncomfortable but he nodded, tight and uncertain. “I asked you because-”
“It’s okay,” Eduardo said, certain that he really didn’t want to hear it.
“-Wardo. I came to you because you were my best friend.”
Mark was staring up at the ceiling, not looking at Eduardo and his hand was uncomfortably tight against the sleeve of Eduardo’s shirt. That didn’t help. None of it.
“Fuck you,” Eduardo said, finally shifting on the bed and sitting up. “Fuck you for not letting me stay mad.”
Glad that Mark didn’t smile when he said that but actually had the decency to look uncertain yet again, Eduardo shook his head.
“I hate that you act this way and expect me to always be around, to always want to help. You made me so angry, Mark, do you understand?” Mark nodded but Eduardo wasn’t convinced. “I want to be CFO of this company but I don’t think we can be friends while I am.”
“Yes,” Mark said, reaching up to grip Eduardo’s sleeve. “I thought — I wanted everything. I thought I had it but-”
“But?” Eduardo dared ask, breath caught in his throat.
“You told me you didn’t want to speak to me.”
“What was the difference? We weren’t speaking anyway.”
Mark shrugged. “I called.”
Eduardo shook his head and turned to face the wall. There was a difference; Mark had the potential to call. “So what does that mean?”
There was a horrible silence when Eduardo thought Mark would just leave and they would have achieved nothing but then Mark tugged on Eduardo’s sleeve, pulled him forward until Eduardo deliberately touched his forehead to Mark’s. Mark shrugged again but the look on his face was better, softer somehow in a way that he’d thought Mark incapable of.
“We can be both,” Mark said, certain.
Eduardo smiled gently. “We can.”
Mark grinned and lifted a hand to the back of Eduardo’s neck. “Half a million, Wardo.”
Eduardo felt giddy again; the thought of an angel investment so that they could get offices and fuck, Facebook was going to be something. “Shit.”
They stayed there that way; maybe not completely healed, maybe not completely out of danger but okay for now.