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[personal profile] laliandra
Part One Part Two



*

NOW

Boston is pretty much as Mark remembers - centuries-old brickwork and decades-ugly concrete, all named for faraway places and long dead war heroes.

Also it’s fucking cold for April.

Eduardo laughs when Mark shivers, says, “Born to be a Californian, clearly.”

Chris shakes his head at both of them. “Mark, you’re from New York, suck it up. Eduardo, I distinctly remember you nearly dying in about four layers of sweater when we came back here, so don’t you even start.”

It’s another piece of information that Mark didn’t have before, one that he can slot into the blank space that is Eduardo after he walked out of one office and into another five years later.

They drive out to Cambridge, past the Porcelli headquarters a couple of times, Chris taking them some ridiculous route that he claims makes them less trackable but Mark knows what he’s doing. It’s not really a feasible plan though, because Mark doesn’t need to see the Square or Kirkland or anything that obvious to start the onslaught of memories. It’s Harvard and Chris and Eduardo are arguing in the front about street crossing laws in Massachusetts, and the sweep of the river and the curve of the bridge are still the same, the exact same as when Mark thought this was the only thing he’d ever want, just to be here, and when he looked back and thought, “Well, I’ll probably not come here again,” ceding the East Coast to Eduardo like the spoils of some great war.

So even with Chris trying his best to avoid campus, Mark will still be hit with the memory of tripping down the library steps in his flip-flops, waiting outside Elliot for Eduardo, getting drunkenly lost with Dustin in his first week and stumbling across a building with huge exotic animals carved into the stone around the top of it. They had found it completely hilarious and enthralling and had sat naming all the animals for what turned out to be an hour, just going round and round, repeating themselves, with Dustin insisting that one of them was a gnu. It’s sad and wonderful all at once.

“Oh, sure, just run them down, that’ll help us keep a low profile,” Eduardo says. “I’m sure no-one will notice the blood splatter on the front of the car, no, not at all.”

Chris keeps looking straight ahead. “Not that you’re prone to hyperbole or anything.”

They’re here because finding the Winklevii has been tricky, but finding the Porcellian club is easier than easy. Sometimes Mark can’t believe these dinosaurs still exist, with their headquarters and their rules and their, ugh, their everything.

After they have printed out the blueprints in some divey internet cafe - because no, Wardo, I did not think to bring an A3 printer with me, what the fuck, and you’re the one who needs to see everything spread out like this - Chris hires them a tiny office suite somewhere downtown. He’s taken to looking at his cans of coke like he wishes they were something stronger, and calling Dustin to bitch about how much nicer it was when “Mark and Wardo were still scared enough to play nice.”

It’s sort of horrible, and the kitchenette thing has some really suspicious stains, but there are desks and tables and Mark can rig up a network that is capable of running more than one thing at once. He actually makes happy noises when he checks the bandwidth but luckily there’s no one there to hear.

One of the desks collapses under a box but it’s no big deal. There were no electronics involved.

Eduardo traces lines of sight from the security cameras with his finger and makes a considering noise.

“Plan?” Mark asks, dragging his chair closer to Wardo.

“Maybe. There’s always something they overlook, you see.” He grins at Mark, the one that means, hey, this one is for you. “Who guards the gatekeeper?”

He traces a suspiciously perfect looking circle around something in the main entrance. “Do you think you could crack the receptionist’s computer?”

Marks pulls a face because that sounds like fieldwork but, “Yes, obviously. They usually only have the standard windows password lock. You could probably crack it.”

Eduardo says,“I object to the “any fool” implication you put into that. And I’m assuming it’s -” he mock glares at Chris, “ - just hyperbole.”

“Probably,” Mark says. “And if there was anything more complex I’d have to be there. Plus we don’t want to actually leave any kind of trace, and I’m the only one who can actually... Fuck.” He’s just talked himself into fieldwork.

Eduardo smirks.

“Now we just have to work out a schedule for recon,” Chris says brightly, and Eduardo’s face falls.

He says, “I’m... Is there any way I can not do that?”

Chris and Mark exchange a look. “Does someone not want to get be in the van?” Chris asks, in his best Talking To Small Disagreeable Children voice. Mark has heard the lot.

Eduardo shrugs, says, “Not really. And I’m not very good at it, let’s be honest.”

“Well, no,” Mark says, smiling so that Eduardo knows that he doesn’t mind. That’s not something Wardo would ever have said, before, not with this loose, easy air. Mark likes it. If anyone could stand to learn to be a bit selfish, it’s Eduardo. “You get bored.”

*

THEN

“What is he doing, Dustin, give me the binoculars.” Mark makes a grab for them but Dustin catches his arm, twists until it hurts.

Dustin says, “No way, this is too awesome.”

Chris takes the binoculars from his other hand, takes a look and doubles over laughing while he holds them out to Mark.

Eduardo is still in the car, which is something. He’s nodding along and, oh, god, mouthing along to something.

“At least that explains why he’s not answering his cell,” Mark says, unable to look away.

“Please give me the binoculars back,” Dustin begs. “The bopping. Mark, please, I will pay you actual money. ”

“Do we know what he’s listening to?” Chris asks, as Mark ignores Dustin in favour of watching Eduardo drum on the steering wheel.

Dustin says, “Pick a radio station, any radio station, you know what he’s like. What are you thinking?”

Chris leans to look out of the window. Eduardo is supposed to be keeping an eye on the side entrance from their cheap rental car, but there’ve been people staring a bit too hard at it, so they’re bringing him back in. Or they would be if Wardo would just answer his fucking cell.

Chris says, “If we can work out what radio frequency he’s listening to, we can highjack it. Unless you fancy cycling through all of them.”

Dustin sighs, digs a tiny radio out of his backpack. He’s the one who’s been in this room longest, the other shift, and he always brings supplies.

They hop from station to station, Mark still training the binoculars on Wardo’s happy, unaware face, clearly singing along to something that he loves.

He knows the instant they hit the song, can match the words to the shape of Eduardo's mouth, to the rhythm of his head and the silly uncomplicated joy of it.

*

NOW

“Their system really shouldn’t be that hard to crack,” Mark grumbles as he scrambles in through the window that Eduardo’s jimmied open. It’s been a hard climb up a rope, preceded by a hard swim across the river, all in the pitch black. Mark really hates fieldwork.

Eduardo makes a shushing gesture. Mark throws his hands up and has to hope that this translates his exasperation to Eduardo. Of course Dustin couldn’t come, too busy with his ‘recon’ out West. Mark knows what Dustin looks like when he’s going to get laid in the near future, that’s all he’s saying.

The Porcellian headquarters is all old wood panelling and black and white photographs. Mark scowls at them for good measure. The front desk is right at the front of the room, lit by moonlight - more like light pollution, probably- coming in through the large glass doors, the main entrance to the building. Mark spots the receptionist’s computer. He sits down on the floor behind the desk, and Eduardo stands with his back to him, keeping watch. Mark leans back against Eduardo’s legs unthinkingly.

He unplugs the monitor from the tower and replaces it with his own, much smaller, dimmer screen before booting up the system. As he’d predicted, there is only one layer of security to get onto the secretary’s profile, and he breaks the password after a couple of minutes. He tables his rant about entropy for later.

“Mark,” Eduardo whispers, and Mark types as fast as he can, pulling up email and calenders. There’s only one reason why Eduardo would risk talking right now.

Sure enough, about thirty seconds later Eduardo ducks down behind the desk, back to back with Mark, and Mark hears the footsteps. He gives up sorting and just dumps as much as he can onto the flash drive.

“Go,” he says.

Eduardo moves forward, shoving the wheeled chair so that it flies across the floor. Mark turns back just in time to see it hit a guard who doubles over, dropping his gun.

Mark sees Eduardo look back around the room, sizing up options and possibilities in a flash. Then Eduardo leaps forward and pushes, and the guy goes backwards and out of the window. He’ll go into the river below, which is smart, no body or blood or physical evidence. Eduardo stands looking out, back to Mark.

Mark doesn’t know what to do.

*

THEN

“I don’t know what Dustin’s talking about,” Mark says, well, half shouts over the noise of the bar. It’s dark and crowded which makes it a good place for two pseudo leaders of two criminal outfits to meet up but it also makes it pretty hard to carry out a normal conversation. Or what Mark considers a normal conversation these days.

“He’s basically been an assassin for hire since he was 15. I don’t know why he’s getting so weird about it now.”

“You can’t understand,” Erica says. She has the same expression that Dustin has, like she’s sorry for him and relieved all at once.

Mark says, “Look, just because I haven’t pulled the trigger doesn’t mean...”

“Oh, you’ve ended lives with keystrokes, got your revenge from dark rooms miles away because that’s what the criminal elite do these days, but it’s not the same thing, it doesn’t...” Erica shakes her head. “If you’ve never looked someone in the eye and known you’re about to end their life, you can’t. You know that they say that people’s eyes are like windows to the soul? Well, you can tell the instant that they die, because they stop being windows and start being mirrors.” She drops her gaze for a second, tears another strip off the label of her beer bottle. “There’s nothing behind them any more.”

Mark shivers involuntarily. Erica sets her jaw. “So, no, Mark, you don’t understand, and you never will.”

*

NOW

Mark looks at Eduardo, in that second, and what flashes through his brain is, I’d kill someone just to understand you. Which is a truly fucked up thing to think, and an even more fucked up way to realise that you’re in love with someone.

Mark has known what it’s like to have people you’d kill for. It’s kind of inevitable, living the life he does. He thought that about all of the F years ago. But this is new. Any second now Eduardo is going to turn around and Mark wants to know, more than almost anything he’s ever wanted, what he’s going to look like. What he’s thinking. What Mark needs to do for him.

Maybe he’ll never be able to figure out exactly how he felt about Eduardo all those years ago, try as he might to reverse engineer base feelings from the end product. But he knows now, with horrible, perfect certainty, that right now, this Mark loves this Eduardo, for the person he was then and is now and everything in between.

“Something’s not right,” Eduardo says, still facing the window.

Mark picks up the gun from the floor, fast, checks the room for anything else of theirs. “Do we?”

“Yes,” Eduardo says and turns and grabs Mark’s arm in one fluid movement. “Emergency exit strategy.”

Mark thinks that one through and then swears to himself. He really hates leaving through the vents. There’s never as much room in them as the movies make out.

“Could be worse,” Eduardo says cheerfully. He doesn’t sound even slightly out of breath, which is unfair considering just how fast he’s running, dragging Mark along with him.

*

THEN

“This was not the life of glamour that I was lead to believe high stakes crime would be,” Mark complains, as they trudge through the sewage. This is why Mark hates coming out into the field. Everything always goes wrong whenever he does.

Dustin swings the flashlight so that Mark can see his disbelieving face. “Well, we would be in a very different situation if someone hadn’t decided to get facetious and correct the CEO on his math.”

“He was wrong,” Mark points out.

Dustin says, “True, but as a server you a) probably shouldn’t have been able to do that sum in your head and b) really shouldn’t have called him intellectually incapable. I’m just saying...”

Mark rolls his eyes in the darkness.

“Stop it,” Dustin calls back.

There is a scraping noise above them and a circle of daylight appears. They clamber up the ladder to meet a very amused looking Eduardo.

“All those in favour of Mark not being part of the field team ever again, raise your hand,” Dustin says.

Everyone raises their hand.

*

NOW

“I think you guys were right,” Chris says. He turns the screen so that they can all see. The security camera footage is grainy but they can still see lights going on all over the building that Mark and Wardo have just exited.

“The guard must have set off an alarm,” Mark says.

He looks over at Wardo. He can’t seem to stop. “Thank you,” he says. Eduardo smiles back, shrugs, and Mark is going to do something ridiculous if Wardo keeps that up. Eduardo makes everything so mixed up, like Mark is lighter than he’s ever been, and in far too deep, an emotional whiplash-creating person that Mark is - Christ - stupidly in love with.

Marilyn frowns down at the schematics on the table. “If there was an alarm switch in that room, it was a recent addition,” she says.

Chris types something into the IRC box, and then says, “Andrew says that’s the most up to date version he can find, but that the Porc do tend to...” He waits, watching the lines of text pop up. “Go ‘off page’? Is that a... Never mind. He says that it’s not his fault. Fucker.”

Mark tosses him the flash drive and Chris catches it one-handedly, because that’s Chris Hughes for you.

“What have we got here,” Chris murmurs to himself.

Mark watches Wardo watch Chris read, and there’s no-one there to call it creepy, so that’s fine.

“They’ve got a meeting in the calender for a week from now, for a Messers W. This is everything we need.”

“No one ever thinks about the receptionists,” Eduardo says with a sigh. “But they hold the keys to the kingdom.”

Chris looks up from the screen. “Someone better call Dustin and tell him to get on the next flight. Some one who is not me,” he adds quickly.

*

THEN

The Stanford aren’t like a Boston club. They don’t have territory, don’t much care that Mark and his gang have moved in just down the road.

“We know we’re good enough not to be threatened by you,” their leader says with a sharp grin. She and Sean apparently go way back, and they have this spiky chemistry that Mark isn’t sure what to make of.

Later on he realises that Sean is kind of scared of her. Not that he blames him, Amy Ritter is a force to be reckoned with.

So he doesn’t understand why Dustin gets away with calling her Amelia, a name that she declared a dislike for the second time they all went out for dinner. But he does, dragging out the “e” with big eyes that Amy seems to be trying and failing not to find charming.

But then he and Chris are talking - Mark refuses to call it gossiping - and Chris says, “You know, he never calls her baby or darling or, you know, any of the things he calls the rest of us after one beer.”

“He just calls her Amelia,” Mark realises.

*

NOW

Dustin arrives the same day as a huge box of tech from Andrew, and he and Wardo tear into it like small children.

“Oo, tasers,” Dustin says. Wardo takes something complicated out of the box, many pieces of metal and black plastic. He glances down at what Mark assumes is a schematic and then starts to put in together, fingers fast and sure.

Mark swallows, shuts his eyes for just a second, and the images fade behind his eyelids.

“Andrew send anything for me?” he shouts across the room.

Wardo and Dustin look up with matching grins, trigger happy and rifle bright.

Eduardo says, “You get the van, Mark, isn’t that enough? It has that horrifying monitor wall.”

“There’s nothing horrifying about it,” Mark says, with the certainty of someone who spends too much time squinting at text on a screen.

Getting into the Porcelli in the daytime is a whole different affair, with numbered stages and back up plans and synchronising of watches.

The Winklevii are, of course, meeting their contact in one of the room on the top floor, so they have to make it past guards in the close confines of the hallways.

Mark, thankfully, is going to be in their new van, he’s already got a good chair in there. He’s earned the money to spend on proper back support. Mark is owning adulthood.

Chris is the public face of the operation, the smiling, confused out of towner face. It’s an old con combined with a little something new. The umbrella blocks the view of the camera, sir, but I can’t get it down, Boston is pretty windy, huh?

The umbrella has software in the handle, but the security guard at the front desk won’t notice that when he takes it away from Chris.

“Give me the thrill of a good, clean break-in any time,” Dustin says and Eduardo nods.

*

THEN

Dustin doesn’t talk to Mark for a week. It’s not exaggeration, not close. Dustin sits across the way, codes furiously and doesn’t say one single word to Mark. A small, distant part of Mark sort of admires the constant force of will it must be taking.

He tries to explain, once, that he had to get rid of Eduardo for them but Dustin just gives Mark a look and turns away.

Eduardo is gone, back to New York and then Harvard, and Chris has always been going back to school.

It’s just Mark and Dustin and occasionally Sean, who drops by less after Dustin takes to getting out a different kind of weaponry and displaying it on his desk every time Sean is around. The job they pulled, the last one before Wardo arrived, the one that Eduardo thought he was coming out for, keeps them going.

They don’t plan anything else, just code in choking silence.

“You could just leave,” Mark says one day.

Dustin looks up from his monitor. “No, Mark, I can’t. Even if I wanted to.”

“Dustin I...” Mark starts but he doesn’t know what he is, what he wants. The code is fine, but Mark can’t... He likes the way Dustin used to smile at him when they were sharing jokes on IRC, and the way that he always knew how Mark wanted to end his sentences. He liked hearing about the improbable things he’d done, the stupid challenges he and Wardo would set each other.

“I know he was your best friend, Mark - which by the way makes the whole thing worse - but he was...” Dustin stops and swallows hard and for one awful moment Mark thinks that he might cry. “But he was one of the few people I had who I could actually talk to, you know? And he was generally awesome. And now I’m going to be forever associated with betrayal and backstabbing and other bullshit beginning with b.”

It had seemed like such a clean, simple solution to the F’s problems, but instead it’s messy, unexpected sharp edges everywhere like smashed glass.

Mark says, “I hope that you can be friends, again, Dustin.” It seems like the best outcome he can hope for, the most he can repair.

It takes a long while for Dustin to smile at Mark again, but the silence is over, at least.

*

NOW

The van always feels like a school bus on the first day back when they are heading to a job. Dustin and Eduardo are all in black, just casual enough to be unremarkable if you passed them in the street, at least not when they aren’t side by side.

Dustin is going to infiltrate the back stairs and Wardo’s taking the fire escape and they have some sort of race to the middle thing going on that Mark isn’t even touching.

Mark adjusts his monitors again. Chris peers back over the driver’s seat, says, “Okay, I have 11.45, everyone?”

“Always with the watches,” Mark mutters. He doesn’t watch Eduardo leave the van, but tracks him with the cameras until he disappears. Eduardo is still very good at vanishing.

“I’m in!” Dustin crows down his comm. “You should have seen the size of this guy-”

“We do not have time for one of your play-by-plays, Moscovitz,” Mark hears Chris say.

Dustin laugh is still bell clear, despite the interference. “Why Christopher, you were the one who told me to check in at least once every five minutes.”

“Why on earth would you do that?” Wardo says.

“Museum job. You go off grid for a few-”

“Twenty minutes, Dustin”

*

THEN

“What the hell were you doing?” Chris yells, once Dustin turns back on his comm. Mark can see his hand shake at the controls. It’s their first job without Eduardo and everyone is on edge. Not helped by Dustin’s twenty minutes of dead air.

“There was a cute docent -”

“Dustin Moscovitz, if you turned off your comm to flirt-”

“It wasn’t like that. She was doing this really awesome impression of a sabre tooth tiger,” Dustin says, slightly dreamily.

Chris laughs disbelievingly, relief sharpening it into something almost desperate. “Oh, that’s fine then.”

*

NOW

Mark doesn’t care that much about being in the van. The lighting isn’t great but he’s got his laptop, his monitors, his systems. He’s coded in plenty worse places. He sweeps through the channels again, still nothing.

Then he realises that he hasn’t heard from anyone in a while.

“You know we were only kidding about the play by plays, Dustin,” he says into his comm.

Silence.

“Chris? Wardo? Dustin?” He cycles through all of the frequencies over and over, but all he ever gets is the ragged shush of his own breath being fed back to him.

Shit.

There’s nothing coming up on the cameras, nothing untoward, as far as he can see. Then he has a flash of inspiration, turns on the radio. Nothing. They must have employed some sort of jammer. Which suggests that one of the parties involved know that they’re here.

One of his alerts flashes and he turns up the channel monitering the Porc’s internal security radios. “Attention.” That’s a Winklevoss voice, Mark would know their douchey vowels anywhere. “We have one of the members of the F. Send extra guards to the second floor.”

Mark doesn’t think, just grabs his gun and gets out of the van. There’s no guard on the back staircase -thank you Dustin- and Mark takes them two at a time.

He’s picking the lock of the door to the second floor when his comm start to hum. Mark presses the button and Chris is saying, “Hello? Mark? Hello?”

“Chris,” Mark says, so relieved he can hardly speak. He keeps a tight grip of the lockpick. “Are you okay? They’ve, they’ve got someone, do you know-”

Chris says, “Mark,” urgently. “I had eyes on Dustin, I don’t know what...”

The door swings open.

“Mark!” Chris says again. Mark slips the comm piece into his pocket and steps over the threshold.

One of the Winklevii is standing in the middle, Mark doesn’t know which one and it’s not important, because the only thing that counts is the way he’s got Wardo, twisting his arm behind his back. It’s the only thing Mark can see, like he’s jump focused on it, Wardo’s unflinching gaze filling the whole frame.

“Clever,” Mark says. “Making us think you had one of us so that we’d all jump to rescue them.”

“Revealing yourselves and letting yourself get captured in the process,” the other Winklevoss says, coming over to stand by his brother.

Wardo looks over and says, “Mark, you idiot.”

Eduardo’s hair is hanging down into his eyes but his back is straight and his eyes defiant. Mark can’t look away from him. He feels like he did all those years ago, like the world has snatched away the glorious possibility he could see, just out of reach.

“You’re not really in any position to talk,” Mark says. Of course it was Eduardo who did something brave and completely stupid when he thought one of them had been captured.

*

THEN

Wardo probably doesn’t think Mark remembers, that they were both too stoned for anything to have stuck. But Mark can’t forget the way his face had closed up, resolute. He’’s lucky that one of the men involved was brought up on furthers charges in America about five years ago. They’d brought some stuff up from the Saverin case, filed it electronically.

There’s just one picture of Eduardo in the police files Mark hacks into. Wardo’s only ten years old, looks younger. They’ve gone with the standard ‘hold up today’s newspaper’ and Mark can see Wardo’s fingers gripping the edge of it too hard.

The fear is huge and terrible in his eyes.

Wardo hadn’t mentioned being scared, when Mark had asked why his family had moved from Brazil. He’d just talked about waiting, waiting for someone to come rescue him.

*

NOW

Mark takes a very deep breath. “What do you want, Tyler? You’ve got the facebook.”

Tyler grins. “Not actually the point, here.”

“You... don’t want the facebook?” Mark says. “Because that makes stealing it kind of a waste of time and energy, don’t you think?” He wants to reach for his gun but he can’t break eye contact with Eduardo.

Tyler says, “Well, everyone knows we took it from you. That’s almost worth it by itself.”

“The code we got is useful, but it’s not the most important thing,” someone else says. Oh, of course.

“Hi, Divya,” Mark says. Divya nods at him from where he’s leaning on a table at the edge of the room. “Mark.” He levels his own gun at Mark about the same time as Mark aims for Tyler.

“Ah, you’re the Porcelli contact they’re meeting. Still after my network, Narendra?” And then it clicks. “Oh. You are.

“The thing about VPN keys, for the less tech savvy gentlemen over there, is that they can be extremely hard to crack. And the facebook network, well, it’s the most secure, most far reaching in the world. So many countries...”

“And you thought, what would tempt Mark Zuckerberg out into the open, where you can take his key,” Mark realises.

Divya says, “The facebook, obviously. But then, no, even going after your beloved site, you were still too careful for us.I wanted to catch one of you in the Porcelli’s the other night, but you got out somehow.”

“But we’ve got you this time, two for the price of one,” Cameron says. He smiles at Mark, cruel mouth and perfect teeth.

Mark says, “What are you going to do, shoot him unless I give you the key?”

Cameron makes a face. “No, Mark. That wouldn’t be... We aren’t common murderers, we are gentlemen.”

“So give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just shoot the lot of you,” Mark says. He’s always been too common for the Porcelli, so fuck them. “Right now.”

“We thought you might say that, so we took out a little insurance. The new security at the Porcelli is great, don’t you think?” Divya says. He walks over to where there’s a laptop, open on a table.

He clicks a couple of times and a security feed starts. Mark watches Eduardo - small and black and white but unmistakable - launch himself at the guard and knock him out of the window.

“You did a great job, but you missed one of the new cameras. We don’t have to do anything more than hand him in. Murder One for Mr Saverin,” Divya says, smug.

Mark feels like he might throw up. Wardo has gone pale.

Wardo or facebook. Well. At least it’s not a new problem.

“So that’s why you should hand over your key. I know you keep it on you. That’s the problem with becoming a legend in your own lifetime, Mark, people know things about you.”

Mark reaches up to where he keeps his key, attached to a lanyard that he hasn’t taken off in years. “Let Eduardo go. He walks over to me. I’m going to put my key down on the floor and if any of you even move I will shoot it. It won’t survive that.”

Wardo looks probably the most shocked of them all, but it’s possibly just because he has the best eyes for it.

“What?” Divya says.

Mark makes an impatient noise. “I will put the key on the floor and move away from it, so that’s my end. You let Eduardo go. Stage One. This is not complicated.”

“I don’t think he thought you would give it up that easily,” Wardo says. He looks like he put up a pretty good fight before Tyler got him on his knees.

Mark lifts the key off from round his neck. “He was wrong then, wasn’t he,” he tells Wardo, unable to stop himself even now.

“And what’s stage two?” Cameron asks. He’s always been the smarter one. It’s all relative, but still.

“You send me the file, and I’ll know if you’ve copied it, trust me, and I’ll send you the passcode that goes with that key,” Mark explains. It’s not the best plan he’s ever come up with, probably not even top ten, but this will be the plan that gets their hands off Wardo.

The Winklevii look over at Divya, who nods.

Tyler lets go of Eduardo’s arm and steps away from him quickly. Eduardo stands, winces, and Mark sort of regrets not shooting anyone. Wardo edges over to Mark and takes his spare gun from its place in his belt, tucked in the small of his back. Eduardo was the one who taught him that.

“Come on,” he says, and they back out of the room, side by side until they get to the door. They don’t even hesitate, turn and run as soon as they’re out of a line of sight, the line of fire.

Mark reaches for his comm when they reach the bottom.

“Chris,” he snarls into it. He won’t be able to rebuild facebook without control of the network, won’t be able to do much for a while without the code. And now the van has gone.

“Mark, listen, I heard, and I need you and Wardo to get as far away from the Porcellian as you can,” Chris says calmly. “Are you clear of the building?”

“Yes, but - ” Mark says, not even sure where to start.

“Good. We had to take the van. Get to the bridge, Marilyn will meet you there. Just, trust me, go.”

Mark turns to tell Wardo to go, to stop heading for the alley where the van was but Eduardo is staring at him. He looks stricken. “We have to get to the bridge on foot,” Mark says.

“You just gave it up,” Wardo says, almost too quiet to be heard.

Mark stares back.

Then the windows above them explode.

“Run,” Mark tells Eduardo.

They’re half way down Mount Auburn street when a car pulls up beside them and Mark has his gun half raised before he sees Marilyn in the driver’s seat.

“Come on, fast car, pretty girl, it’s the perfect end to the show,” she says as they climb in.

“What the fuck was that?” Wardo asks, shielding his eyes with a practised air as he shakes the glass out of his hair.

Marilyn smiles and accelerates. “That would be Chris. And the failsafe that he assures me you knew was in the key.”

Mark feels sort of struck dumb. Chris had said there was a failsafe but he’d assumed it was... Well. He had not assumed that that meant there were explosives in it, fucking hell. He’s been wearing that every day for years.

Mark looks at Eduardo’s face in the rear view mirror, can’t quite trust himself to turn around.

“Wardo,” he starts, but Eduardo just shakes his head.

“Can you drop us off at the headquarters, please,” he says to Marilyn. She laughs low in her throat.

“It’s five dollars extra for breaking awkward silences, sir,” she says, and Mark doesn’t know if it’s that they attract these kinds of people or if being in the F eventually gets to your brain and makes you say those kinds of things.

Eduardo says, “Do you have change for a twenty?” and doesn’t say anything else until they get back. Mark tries to get Chris on his comm a couple of times but nothing doing.

The Porcelli are going to be pissed but Mark doesn’t care. He got Wardo out, and even if Wardo is goes back to Singapore and doesn’t say another word to Mark that will have been a victory. And the facebook. The facebook won’t be anyone else’s but Mark’s.

He turns to Marilyn when she stops the car but she stops him by raising her hand. “Go sort it out,” she says. “Again, Chris would like me to reiterate to you, and I would like to officially second, try not to be an asshole.”

Edaurdo is already inside, checking the alarms and the security feeds. “It looks like we’re still good here. Safe,” he says.

There’s a bruise already forming on the edge of his cheekbone. Eduardo is whip thin, all the places to break far too obvious. Mark says, “You’re so stupid sometimes, Wardo, you make me want to tie you to something solid so that you can never do anything that stupid again.”

Wardo crosses both of his - ridiculously narrow, seriously - wrists and raises his eyebrows at Mark. “Thanks?” he says.

“I didn’t know, Wardo. I didn’t know what Chris was going to do,” Mark says, and Eduardo just stares.

“Wow, so it really was kind of a winning gamble for them,” Wardo says easily, but something in his jaw clenches.

“Maybe not so much of a gamble. Even without that I would have chosen you,” Mark says without thinking.

Wardo frowns.

Mark says, “Really, Wardo? Like I could have done anything else. I...” He stops, looks at Eduardo, at his confused, hopeful face, the way his fingers move as he twists his hands. It’s hopeless. “Do we have to do this here, now? You’re wearing that fucking suit.”

Wardo looks down at himself. “And?” he asks.

“You can’t be so stupid as to... It makes you look stupidly hot, Wardo, seriously, I get that you can’t see just what it does to your ass but the rest of it you can definitely see. But it’s also what you were wearing on the... When you left. And so the combination of lust and guilt is really not helping me make sense.”

“Oh.” Eduardo bites his lip. “Guilt?”

“You would ask about the guilt,” Mark says with a sigh. It’s more the lust he’s dealing with now. Apparently his brain is determined to be confused when it comes to Eduardo Saverin, because Mark can’t decide if he wants to shove Wardo into a wall and go down on him right there, desperate with it, or if he wants to lay him out on a bed and lick every inch of skin he reveals, slow, so slow and sweet. Even wanting isn’t simple, because Mark wants everything.

“Mark,” Wardo says sharply. Focus, Zuckerberg.

“I can’t believe you thought I wouldn’t,” Mark says. Make Eduardo talk. That seems like a good plan.

Wardo pulls a face. “It’s not like there isn’t precedent.”

“Exactly, Wardo, we said we weren’t going to be stupid any more. Right? I wasn’t going to make the same, wrong choice twice. That’s practically the definition of stupidity. I’m not going to do that to you again. To me again. There can be another facebook. It turns out I had one... You’re my only...”

Eduardo says, “Do I need to save you from this sentence?” He is looking at Mark like he’s made some sort of great discovery, like Mark is the best odds, the biggest score, and Mark knows exactly what to say.

“Like I said, they weren’t so much gambling. When it comes to you, I’m playing with loaded dice,” Mark admits.

“Did you just explain your feelings for me using a very apt metaphor?” Eduardo says.

Mark smiles. “I’ve been friends with Chris for a long time. He was bound to corrupt me at some point.”

Wardo swallows again and Mark knows the expression on his face. It’s his “Once more into the breach” look. It means Wardo is about to say something he knows is going to get him into trouble.

"I’m a conman, you know that. I like the world to see me a certain way. But with you... I may not always be the best me, with you.." Wardo' smile turns rueful. "But I'm always the truest."

“You just had to upstage me, didn’t you,” Mark says, gaze caught on the way Wardo’ black shirt has a button missing at the top, just where it should cover up the tan skin of his neck. He watches the muscles shift as Wardo swallows. This is so ridiculous. His mouth feels dry.

Wardo laughs, a low, rich half-chuckle. “You like it really.”

“I do,” Mark admits, in love and helplessly honest with it.

Wardo says, “I just. I want you to know that it was real. All of it.” His face has that soft, open look on it again, and Mark has reached a hand out to his cheek before he knows what he’s doing. A smile blossoms across Wardo’ face, Mark feels it under his palm.

“Good,” Mark says, it’s not that he was worried but Mark has never trusted easily. He steps close, slides his hand to the back of Eduardo’s neck. “You’re going to stay?”

“Yes,” Wardo says, and then adds, in this defiant, desperate tone, “Also I’m in love with you.”

“Me too,” Mark says, and the truth is so, so easy. “Sort of stupidly so.”

Wardo wraps his hand around Mark’s other wrist. “That explains the tying me to things comment, I guess,” he says.

Mark just has time to register the fact that he’s being pulled closer before Eduardo leans in and brushes up and along Mark’s cheek with his nose, shiver soft, until their mouths are aligned, only a breath away from each other. “Mark,” he says, the word crowded with things that Mark can’t untangle but he knows the sense of, and it’s so like Wardo to go from teasing to sentimental in a gesture.

“I know,” Mark says, and kisses him while Wardo’s mouth is still the shape of his name.

And, oh, look, they don’t just fit together in one way, Mark mouth goes perfectly with Eduardo’s mouth, onto the soft skin of Eduardo’s neck, and his thumb fits just right into the hollow of his hipbone. Exactly, like he’d moulded Wardo and left an indentation there.

“Mark,” Wardo says, urgently, but Mark is caught up in this, the rush of finding all the ways Eduardo is his.

He hears Wardo mutter, “Fuck it,” and then he’s being pushed backwards so that the backs of his legs hit the desk. Eduardo crowds him until Mark is forced to sit on the desk with Eduardo standing between his legs.

“That was still a pretty stupid thing you did back there,” Wardo says. He sighs, small and soft, and brushes a stray curl behind Mark’s ear. Mark only rolls his eyes very briefly, because, yeah, it’s Wardo and Mark is never going to be able to stop him doing stuff like that. Mark will strain something if he rolls his eyes every time.

“Not stupid. Haven’t you heard?” Mark says, “I’m crazy about you.”

Eduardo says, “Not sure that’s better,” but he kisses Mark anyway, so Mark will take that as a victory. Eduardo kisses hard, pushing into Mark’s mouth like he thinks he has to force his way in, like Mark isn’t his too, any way Wardo wants. Mark tries to tell him, sweeps his tongue slower, tangles his hand in the back of Eduardo’s shirt - resting it in the dip at the base of his spine, opens his legs wider to pull him closer. He makes his body an invitation, all the things he ever wanted Wardo to hear; come out, come back, stay, please, just stay. Wardo makes a really incredible noise, an addictive noise, oh god, Mark is never going to be able to do anything else.

He gasps into the kiss, gets enough breath and space to say, “We are going to have so much sex,” because it’s all he can think right now, writ large across his brain in letter of fiery, so, much, so very much sex.

Eduardo’s hand tightens in Mark’s hair. And then he goes for Mark’s belt.

Mark can’t quite believe what he’s about to do. “No,” he says, despite his much, much better judgement. “Wardo, I wanted - ”

“Well, Mark Zuckerberg, I don’t care. I’ve been planning this on and off pretty much since I was nineteen, okay? It was going to be perfect. There was going to be a bed and music and none of that matters now because you couldn’t not talk for one minute. So I don’t care what you wanted, because you can’t expect to say things like that and not have me... Yeah. So. Shut up, Mark.”

Mark doesn’t want to set a particular kind of precedent here, either, but then Wardo is dropping to his knees. Holy fuck. “I’m not sure that that me or the desk are going to hold out, Wardo.”

Eduardo looks up at Mark from under his lashes, eyes huge, mouth smiling and bitten-red. “Mark,” he says.

Mark shuts up.

*

THEN

Mark sees Eduardo in a set of recon stills. Marilyn passed them to him, and she wouldn’t know. Eduardo’s not the focus of the picture at all, at the edge and mostly hidden, but Mark spots him right away.It’s nothing much, just three quarters of his face and half of his shoulders, one of a group of businessmen at some function.

He looks so, well, adult. Chris used to freak on the regular about how thin Eduardo was. But this Eduardo is wearing a suit - that’s not unusual at least - and wearing it well. His hair is swept away from his face and he’s smiling.

It’s not a smile that Mark knows.

He’s confused about why Eduardo would even be there, if he even knows any of the people who are watching him talk.

But this is Eduardo-in-Singapore and Mark doesn’t know that person. That person is a stranger, and Mark will just have to accept that.

He puts the photo down, and doesn’t let his hand brush Eduardo’s profile. That’s done with, now.

*

NOW

Mark’s comm starts to crackle somewhere in the happy, messy, making out part, the good part where it’s endorphins for everyone and no one has had time to get cold or uncomfortable. Which is either really good timing or really poor. Mark takes it out of his pocket and turns it back to receive.

“Chris is making me call because he’s worried that it’s going to be like the end of a James Bond movie and he’s going to be Q accidentally interrupting you having sex.”

“Does that make me a Bond girl?” Eduardo asks.

“Wardo!” Dustin yells. Mark holds the comm away from them. There’s a pause and then Dustin says, “I think, and Chris agrees, that you are totally Mr Bond, Wardo, never fear.”

“Hey,” Mark objects, but his voice is still all sex-doped up. This could become a problem.

“What we really wanted to know was if we had to sleep in the van, or if we could come back to the HQ.”

Wardo says, “Um,” and Dustin says, “Chris! Get out the sleeping bags,” and then, louder, “I don’t mind too much. Chris doesn’t snore or do that horrible jaw grinding thing like Mark.”

“Oh, you can make him stop that, didn’t you know?” Eduardo says. He reaches up to Mark’s face. “You just have to stroke the bridge of his nose for a while. Works like a charm.” He runs the back of one finger right down Mark’s nose.

This is the person Mark loves. This person, who knows that about him, this stupid thing that no one else has ever known before. Eduardo loves in grand gestures and drama, but also in a hundred thousand tiny ways that only Mark will ever recognise.

Dustin is making terrible noises down the comm and Wardo seems to come to. “Oh shut up, Dustin,” he says, and turns off the comm.

“He’s going to bitch that you hung up on him for all of time,” Mark says.

Wardo shrugs, says, “He’d be worse if he had to hear us make out.”

“We’re making out again?” Mark asks.

“Do you have somewhere else you’d rather be?” Wardo says, pressing back in close. The desk groans underneath them.

It’s less than perfect, less than planned and uncertain as hell. Mark smiles and kisses him and says, “No, no, never.”




(And then they quietly take over the world.)




awesome art by [livejournal.com profile] alexthegreat


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