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11 June 2012 @ 02:20 pm
fic: in my veins (mark/eduardo) part one  

title: in my veins
summary: mark is a werewolf.
rating: nc-17? maybe? that or r. i never know how to differentiate.
word count: ~10,400.
pairing: mark/eduardo.
disclaimer: not mine, not true at all.
notes: this is a werewolf AU. um. i wrote it for the werewolfbigbang because apparently this is a thing i write now, supernatural-type au's. it's a bit strange but i'm fond of it. title from florence and the machine's howl. 

check out the gorgeous art here, done by the ever-wonderful greenteaduck!






Everything is quiet, still.

He runs through the forest, faster than should be possible.

An animal – a rabbit, small, newborn, scared – pops out in front of him, and is crushed underneath his paw. A growl rips through his throat and he whips his head from side to side, searching out something that he hasn’t entirely named yet.

Thoughts –

Food. Kill. Hunt.

– make their way through his head.

It continues, and he runs faster and faster, paws tearing up the earth. He is animal in his thoughts and movements – no longer is he Mark Zuckerberg, human, but something entirely different, changed, better (or so he thinks, now, when the only thing there is the earth in front of and behind him). He runs until there are no thoughts, again, around and around, and only when the sun comes up does he settle down and wait for his retransformation.

*

“Are you okay?”

Mark blinks as he walks through the door, a slight frown on his face. He manages to make himself focus on Dustin, ignoring the slight pain lingering in his side – fucking bushes, fucking branch, fucking whatever-the-fuck it was that hit him last night. “What?”

“You look like shit,” he says, blunt. “I was asking if you were okay.”

Mark waves a hand that he runs through his hair as he goes into the bathroom. Once inside, he stares at his reflection, grimacing. The scratches are all but gone (and the pain is receding) but his face looks thinner, almost yellow, worn. He rolls his eyes and reaches for his toothbrush, going through the motions without much thought, focusing them instead on Chris and Dustin.

He wants to tell them the truth, he really does; he can hear Dustin laughing at something, high-pitched and loud, and he wants nothing more than to share in that. He stares at his reflection, though, and his face is yellow and his eyes are dark and he wants to talk to them but what he has to do is drown himself in code until he feels entirely human again.

He leaves the room quickly, barely registering Dustin’s “Have fun!” shouted at his back.

He codes until he can’t see, until everything boils down to the letters and numbers on his page; until the sounds from outside the room quiet down to nothing more than the faintest hum, nothing more than background noise.

And then his mind is finally, blissfully empty. He sits back, staring at his screen, and seemingly out of nowhere the smell of pizza hits him, strong and absolutely delicious.

It serves to remind him that he hasn’t eaten in – well, shit, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it? He never eats the day before his transformation – and as his stomach gives a loud grumble that he’d be embarrassed about if anyone were around to hear it, he saves his work one last time and goes out into the living room.

Chris and Dustin are out there, playing some video game, and next to them is someone Mark’s never seen before, someone with stupid-looking hair, and – well. Mark’s really fucking attracted to him.

(He remembers being thirteen and having this happen, seeing a boy with the hottest fucking body he’d ever seen standing without a shirt, and I’m gay? had popped into his head, and then, I guess I am, and he’s noticed guys like this before, but never like this, never in the way that makes him want to forgo everything and kiss him until neither of them can breathe.)

He blinks, standing in the doorway, and Dustin laughs. “Finally out of your cave! Here, have some pizza,” and he passes the box over to him.

Mark takes it, sitting next to the stranger, who starts talking almost immediately.

“Name’s Eduardo,” he says, sticking out a hand, and Mark can only stare at it for a moment, trying his hardest to not fucking maul him, or something.

He closes his eyes for the briefest of moments, and barely breathes out a “Mark”.

When he opens him again, Eduardo is staring at him with something like worry in his eyes – but of course, that’s silly, because he’s not worried, can’t be worried about someone he’s never met – people don’t work like that, they don’t, Mark reminds himself. (Not even people that know him worry about him – and, all right, that’s the last self-deprecating thought he’s going to let himself have.) “Are you okay?” Eduardo asks, somehow, and he sounds like he cares, which – well, shit, Mark is going to be in way too far over his head if he doesn’t cut this out.

Mark shrugs without really thinking about it. “Sure,” and he takes a bite out of the pizza, focusing on it instead of the stupidly nice person sitting in front of him.

And that’s how they meet – and, somehow, remarkably, Eduardo doesn’t hate him after that.

Eduardo becomes something of a fixture with them – all of them, and that’s strange, because – no one’s ever done that before, ever inserted themselves into Mark’s life so easily, seemingly without thinking about it. And – well, the thing is, he doesn’t mind, and that’s crazy, too. Eduardo doesn’t always say the most intelligent things but Mark doesn’t mind.

He likes it, really, and he’d talk to someone about it but he knows Chris would just roll his eyes and Dustin would laugh and – it’s not that big a deal, really, except that it is.

He’s never liked a person’s company more like this, never wanted to leave his computer to be with them.

It’s – nice, is the thing, nice in the way that it shouldn’t be. He finds himself looking at Eduardo, sometimes, and he thinks things that someone like him definitely shouldn’t be thinking about someone like Eduardo.

(And he’s being self-deprecating again.

Fuck.)

Sometimes, Eduardo looks back at him and Mark thinks he might not be the only one – and the thought makes his heart race in the most pathetic way. Even though he wants to spend all of his time in Eduard’s presence, he locks himself in his room, when his wants and desires are too much (right around the full moon, unsurprisingly) – when he wants too badly to kiss or attack Eduardo and he’s not sure which it is that he’d end up doing.

He doesn’t trust himself.

Not with Eduardo.

*

“Mark?”

He ignores the call, focusing his eyes on the screen. Dimly, he registers that there’s no light anymore – funny, it was morning when he started, just past dawn.

He closes his eyes and when he opens them Eduardo is clicking open the door, a plate of pizza in his hand. “You’ve got to eat,” he says, soft, setting it down.

Mark shakes his head without looking up. “I’ve got to work.”

“What are you even working on?” Eduardo asks, and takes a step closer.

Mark doesn’t say anything, sits there, staring at the screen, absolutely still. It’s the beginning of something, a tight crack in what he doesn’t want to leave him, he can feel it, but he doesn’t know what to do.

“You wouldn’t understand,” he says, after a long while, and his voice is rough with lack of use. “I mean – it’s complicated.”

“Try me.”

“No.” This is resolute, sure.

And Eduardo leaves without another word.

*

He starts to date Erica.

She’s pretty and scrunches her nose when she laughs and Mark is attracted to her but he knows that he isn’t going to hurt her. He spends less and time at Kirkland and sees Eduardo less and less and that’s okay, really.

He starts to date her two days after a transformation and less than a month later he’s running, absolutely free of thought. When he’s through, he just wants more than he ever has before and instead of going to Erica’s, as he should, as he promised himself he would, he goes back to Kirkland.

Eduardo’s there, of course, and Mark nearly runs to him, pulling him close, letting out a shuddery breath. “Wardo,” he breathes out, the first syllable escaping him, and feels him stiffen but not pull away.

“Mark?” and he sounds confused but not angry, so Mark hangs on. “Mark.” This is more stern.

At that, Mark pulls away the barest amount, looking up at him, almost frightened with what he wants and what he might not be able to have. “Yes?”

Wardo doesn’t say anything but studies his face, looking solemn. “Are you okay?”

Mark’s eyes shut for a moment and then he’s nodding, more quickly than he probably should. “I’m fine. Just – I’ve missed you,” and that’s true, so true, but not enough – he hasn’t told him everything, and for the first time he wants to. It comes out more meaningfully than he intended; it’s close to a growl and his hands tighten on Wardo’s shoulders, fingers squeezing.

Wardo’s face softens and there’s a small smile on his face. “You missed me?”

Mark rolls his eyes, breathing him in – and it’s dangerous but he knows with a startling clarity that he would never hurt Wardo. He’s not going to let himself; he very literally wouldn’t be able to live with it. “Of course I did, don’t be stupid. I’m not actually as much of an asshole as everyone makes me out to be.”

Wardo smiles, and there’s something soft and sad in it. “I know you aren’t,” he almost-whispers. “Really.”

Mark swallows, and just like that, he can’t deal with it, with this having and not-having and the unsure feeling coursing through him. “I – need to use the bathroom,” he says, and pulls himself away from Wardo, rushing away.

He stands over the sink, looking down, gathering himself, and he can still smell him, Wardo’s scent hovering around him, surrounding him. He has quite literally never wanted anyone this much.

He hears a soft knocking on the door, and then Wardo comes in, looking frightened. “Mark? Are you angry with me?”

“Why would I be mad?” but even this comes out more harshly than he’d intended. Mark swallows. “I mean – why would I be mad?”

“I don’t know.” There’s silence, and then “Where do you go all the time?”

Mark frowns. “What?” he asks, still not really looking at him.

“I mean – you go somewhere at least once a month. Where?”

“I – nowhere.”

“Mark – you can tell me if it’s –” He cuts himself off.

“It’s not anything – illicit, if that’s what you’re getting at,” Mark says, shaking his head. He swallows. “I just – have things. Sometimes. That I can’t get out of.”

“I could help you get out of them? Or at least help you deal with them?” He walks to Mark, putting a hand on the side of his face.

Mark shakes it off, crossing his arms. “What makes you think it’s something I need to deal with?”

“You always look so tired when you get back.” His hand twitches but doesn’t return to Mark’s face – and that’s good, Mark tells himself, not something he wants – except that it is. “I just want to be there for you. I want you to trust me.”

“I do trust you.”

“Then tell me.”

Mark frowns. “I can’t,” and he wants to, he wants to, but he’s terrified of what he’s going to say – because Mark can’t lose him now.

There’s a moment of silence, during which Mark holds his breath, and then Eduardo smiles at him, though it looks forced. “Well, I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to.” He stands up, rubbing his hands on his slacks, and moves to the door. “I’ll just leave you alone, then, yeah?”

Without waiting for an answer, he leaves.

Mark groans, flopping against his bed.

I can’t tell him.

I want to.

I can’t.

He’ll take this, this half-fighting thing they’re doing, if it means he can keep Wardo in any sense.

*

Mark is, really, very drunk.

He’s sitting on the couch, a bottle of beer between his legs.

Wardo turns to smile at him and it’s brilliant, absolutely blinding.

Mark smiles back, and – Wardo likes him, obviously, there’s no way he’d leave if Mark tells him. He won’t leave. Right?

Mark grins and leans in against him, whispers “I have a secret”, hot in his ear.

He feels Wardo stiffen and then relax, leaning closer, because Wardo is drunk, too, and it’s two in the morning and this probably won’t matter when they wake up. “Oh, yeah?” Wardo whispers back. “What might that be?”

Mark swallows, hot and has the faintest moment of regret (worry?) before pushing the words out (Wardo won’t leave he can’t leave he wouldn’t fucking dare leave me), because if he has a problem he can go fuck himself, quite frankly.

(That’s a lie.)

“I’m a werewolf,” Mark whispers, softer now.

Wardo laughs, as though it’s some kind of fucking joke (and Mark really can’t blame him, but) until he realizes Mark isn’t. “Mark?” he says, sounding almost scared, voice smaller than Mark’s ever heard it.

“What?” Mark asks, feigning ignorance – because he said it and it’s really up to Wardo where this goes. He stares at the beer bottle between his legs and he thinks he might regret this in the morning, but oh, well, because – well, he’s never trusted anyone like he trusts Wardo.

“You’re – what?” and he sounds shell-shocked, waiting for Mark to tell him he’s lying, to take it back.

Mark doesn’t. Not even close. “Watch me, next full moon,” he says, challenges, because he needs Wardo to understand that he doesn’t make shit like this up.

“I have to go,” Wardo says, slurring his words the littlest bit (he wasn’t, before, or maybe Mark just wasn’t paying attention) and turns around, shaking his head.

He leaves.

*

Mark wakes up the next morning with the worst fucking headache of his life and a sinking feeling in his stomach.

He’s alone on the couch, and he has a very vivid memory – saying things like “Watch me next full moon” and “I’m a werewolf” and – Wardo had gotten scared, had freaked out and left and now Mark’s alone.

“Shit,” he breathes out, eyes shut tight, and he reaches out to the table, grabbing at his phone. The full moon’s in a few days; he blames his actions on that, on the loss of inhibitions that always comes with a change, but he knows what it is – it’s Wardo, it’s all Wardo, making him freak out and fucking up what Mark had always thought to be his never-changing rules.

He thumbs through his messages – he has a couple, one from Dustin that’s indecipherable, one from Eduardo that just says we need to talk.

Mark shakes his head, tossing it to the side. He doesn’t want to have this conversation sober; if he’s going to tell Wardo he wants the cover of alcohol to hide behind, however slim that might be.

“No,” he breathes out, and sinks back against the cushions, wincing as his head gives another throb.

He needs coffee, and probably to empty his stomach, but those are secondary to the worry, the panic, coursing through him. If Wardo leaves him, if he’s not there anymore, Mark’s not sure what he’s going to do.

He doesn’t want to have to deal with a life alone – because Chris and Dustin are there for him but they’re not there in the same way that Wardo is, in the same way that he’s always been, ever since –

(Mark smiles at the boy sitting next to him and they click their glasses together.

“You sure you’re okay?” Wardo had murmured to him, soft in his ear, and Mark had nodded, looking down.

“I’m just working on something.”

“What is it?”

Mark had chanced a look up at him, but Wardo hadn’t looked like he was kidding, and it had spilled out – the code, the love of code, the barest idea that he might be working on.

And then he’d smiled, brilliant and beautiful, and said “That sounds fucking brilliant, man,” and Mark had smiled, too, helpless.)

- the beginning, since they became friends. Wardo’s never left and the thought that this – his most well-kept secret, the best or worst thing about him, depending on who you ask – might wreck that, makes him feel sicker than any alcohol could.

He throws an arm over his face, and sleeps.

*

Eduardo comes by later that day.

He knocks on the door and Mark doesn’t answer; he’s feeling something like vulnerable, today, and he’s afraid of what’ll happen if he lets Wardo in.

“Mark?” he hears through the door and shakes his head, being quiet. “Mark, I know you’re in there – shit, come on. I’m not mad, and I hope you’re not. I brought food?” There’s the rustle of a paper bag that reminds Mark that he hasn’t actually eaten anything that day, but that’s beside the point – that’s unimportant, he tells himself, even as his stomach rumbles.

He hears a soft sigh, then, and what sounds like Eduardo hitting his head against the door.

“Mark, I’m coming in.”

Shit, runs through his head, and then he runs into the bathroom, shutting the door just as Wardo gets inside.

“Mark, I know you’re in here,” Wardo calls out, sounding more than a little bit exasperated. “Mark, Jesus Christ.”

He lets out a soft growl against his will and winces, pressing his hand flat against the door and his forehead over the wall.

He hears Wardo laugh, and the sound still makes his stomach twist in the almost uncomfortable way that he’s used to with him.

“Mark?” he hears, soft, and then knocking. “Come on.”

Because he is an idiot, he turns the handle, letting Wardo in.

He sits on the edge of the bathtub, hands clenched into fists, and waits, looking up at him with wide eyes.

Wardo sits next to him, staring down at his knees. “So.”

“So indeed,” Mark says, and his voice is rougher than he’s used to.

“You’re a werewolf.”

Every fiber in him is screaming no, but he’s never really been able to lie to Wardo. “Yeah.”

Wardo looks at him for a long moment, seeming to be trying to find something. “You really believe it, don’t you?”

Mark shrugs. “I’m not insane. I’m not lying. It is what it is. I wish I hadn’t told you the way that I did – or at all – but the fact remains that I’m a –”

“Don’t say it.”

“Werewolf,” he says, just to be a shit.

Eduardo frowns. “I don’t believe you,” he says, soft.

Mark lets out another growl, softer this time.

“Will you quit doing that?” and Eduardo’s voice sounds tight, as though he’s trying to calm himself down.

Mark raises an eyebrow, looking at him properly for the first time. “What?”

“You know what I mean.”

He does indeed; the fact remains, though, that it’s easier to make up this farce than to deal with the fact that Eduardo doesn’t believe him. “You’re wrong.”

“Growling. It’s –” and he cuts himself off, shaking his head.

“Scary?” and it’s only half sarcastic.

“Something like that.”

There’s more staring, and it feels more charged than it probably should. Finally, Mark breaks the silence. “You really don’t believe me.”

“How can I?” Wardo asks in a small voice, finally breaking their gaze.

Mark swallows. “Have I ever lied to you?”

Eduardo stands up, wringing his hands, and gives Mark a long look, swallowing. “I don’t know,” he finally says, and then he leaves.

Mark lets out a puff of breath. “Shit.”

*

The day of the next full moon, things are tense.

Days have passed between Mark and Eduardo, and they’re talking but things are tense, more than – Eduardo gives him these looks sometimes, as though he’s hurt that Mark would lie to him – which, okay, that’s not even a little bit fair, he’s trying to tell Wardo everything –

But it’s the day of the full moon, and Mark’s already jumpy. He’s gotten roped into playing Halo with them, somehow, and he stares at the clock, and he knows he needs to get out, as quickly as possible.

Dustin lets out a howl when he wins, and Mark’s head snaps toward him, eyes wide. Dustin just shrugs, but there’s a mischievous smile at the corners of his lips, as though – but no. He doesn’t know, he can’t.

Mark grabs his jacket, mumbling something, and Eduardo grabs his arm, holding on for a moment before letting go, staring at him.

“Shit, Mark, you’re hot.”

Mark raises an eyebrow, lips quirking. “Thank you.”

“That’s –”

“I know what you meant, Wardo.”

He swallows, and then looks up at Mark, looking scared, almost. “Where are you going?”

“Out.”

Wardo shakes his head. “I know what you’re doing.”

Mark shrugs, holding himself tenser than he ever has before.

“You’re not going to try to convince me?”

Mark checks his watch – okay, sun’s about to go down, shit, he needs to leave. “Why should I?” He turns.

“Wait.” A hand on his back. “Your eyes, they’re –”

Mark closes them, tight. Shit. “I really have to go.”

He wants, wants to stay and hold him, pull him as fucking close as he can, wants to consume Wardo – and no, no, this isn’t okay.

He leaves.

*

He is alone, outside.

Out here, there’s no Wardo tempting him, only the Earth beneath his feet and the animals running out of his way.

It’s blissfully freeing, and Mark runs with his eyes closed, letting his mind finally shut off.

Until –

A crash.

Pain, flickering through his body, ending at his paws.

His vision goes fuzzy and he falls against the forest floor, panting, eyes squeezing shut. It feels entirely too human, this pain, and he’s nowhere near the right frame of mind to be dealing with it right now.

He howls, soft, mournful, and he knows that around him animals freeze and look to him, but he has no strength left, can only lie there until he drifts away.

*

He wakes up, and he’s alone.

His right hand is throbbing, and he picks it up, wincing at the sight. It’s bloody, dried red smeared over his fingers, and he has to fight back his gagging.

“Shit,” he breathes out, and without thinking he pulls out his phone, sliding down to the E section.

He hovers over the Send button, but – there’s no one else here to call, no one else he trusts, and he’s out of it enough that he’s not going to be able to drive. If there’s a time to be responsible, he figures, now would be it.

He dials, and swallows. It’s six in the morning and he’ll be waking Eduardo up, but there’ll be time to feel guilty about that later – because now all he can think about, can process, is the pain coursing through his arm, his leg.

He gets a groggy answer.  “Yeah?”

“Wardo?” he asks, and his voice is soft, childlike.

He sounds more alert. “Mark?”

“Yeah – I’m – I’m hurt.”

“What? What happened – shit, where are you?”

Mark rattles off the information, and closes his eyes, forcing himself not to stare at his hand. He’s been hurt before and he’ll be hurt again, but it’s always fucking terrifying, waking up and not remembering how something happened, only having the results, shockingly real and in front of him.

“I need you,” he whispers out, eyes squeezing shut against the pain.

“I’ll be right there.”

*

He’s as good as his word.

Mark’s half gone when he shows up, but he manages a weak “Told you I wasn’t lying” as Eduardo’s hands fly over his sides.

The hands still, trembling, and Eduardo chances a look at him. “You’re right,” he gets out, around a half-sob, and Mark watches his eyes shut tight.

Mark’s eyes are wide, because he doesn’t know how to act as though he’s not scared. “Wardo,” he whimpers out, and it’s more than just his hand – that’s the worst of the outward injuries, that and his ankle, but each breath hurts, makes him want to double over in pain.

“It’ll be okay,” Wardo breathes out, kissing him on the forehead, and scoops him up as though without a second thought.

Mark lets himself be carried, though he knows he doesn’t need it; it’s not as though he’s going to die, he’s had things like this happen before and always been fine – but he feels awful, this time around, because he didn’t have to involve Wardo; the pain is waning and he could have been fine.

“I’m sorry,” he says, mumbles, looking down at his probably broken hand.

Wardo curls him closer, frowning. “What?”

“I should have – not called you. I’m sorry.”

“Mark,” and this is soft, chiding, “you should always call me.”

Mark nods, attempting to flex his fingers. “Okay,” he says, soft.

And – the drive isn’t long but the world goes fuzzy around the edges, and he’s so, so grateful he called Wardo, as he passes out.

*

He wakes up in a hospital that he’s never been in before. (He isn’t nervous; this has happened more than a few times and he knows the doctor, had to talk to him before he moved out here.

The nerves he feels are because Wardo is here, now, and he’s never had to deal with this part of the news telling.)

Wardo isn’t saying anything, just staring at him. Mark makes himself smile. “Well.”

Eduardo gives a tiny shake of the head. “You could have died,” and he sounds shell-shocked.

“I wouldn’t have.” He shakes his head.

“How can you be so sure?”

“This has happened before.”

“Well, that’s comforting,” Wardo snaps. “Don’t – please don’t tell me that.”

Mark frowns. “Do you at least believe me now?”

There’s silence.

Do you?”

After a moment, Wardo nods. “Yeah. I – I do.”

And then there’s more silence before Mark can get up the courage to ask the next question. “And do you hate me?”

“What?” Wardo looks at him, wide-eyed. “Of course I don’t fucking hate you – don’t be an idiot.”

Mark’s body sags in relief, and he closes his eyes. “I – good. I’m glad.”

Wardo smiles, and it feels as normal as it can be.

*

It’s later.

Mark and Eduardo are sitting on Mark’s bed – the laptop, for once, is closed. Mark is shaking, slightly; there’s a scratch on one of his arms that they couldn’t quite heal and Eduardo can’t seem to stop staring at it.

“It’s all right if you want to leave,” Mark says, soft, staring down. “I know it’s not – you don’t have to be here.”

Wardo stares at him, now, eyes wide. “Are you an idiot?”

“Not last time I checked,” Mark gets out, but his eyes are shut tight. “I just – I want – I don’t want you to leave but I don’t want to make you stay, either.”

Wardo frowns, properly. “I’ll never leave you, Mark,” he promises, and something like hope blooms in Mark’s chest.

“Good,” he says, in lieu of something cheesier, but he can’t keep the smile off of his face.

*

“You have to tell Dustin and Chris,” Wardo says, one day when they’re doing homework in Mark’s room.

He frowns. “I don’t think I do.”

“They have to know.”

Mark frowns, staring at his book. “I don’t – they’re not like you.” He has so much more to say but he doesn’t know how to get the words out.

Wardo shuts his book with a snap, getting up to sit next to him, sitting too close. “What do you mean?”

“They – you’re okay with it, you – you don’t hate me, what if – they’re my roommates, Wardo, they can’t –” and he’s babbling, now, because he’s fucking terrified.

“Hey,” Wardo cuts him off, in a whisper. “They won’t.”

“What if they do?”

“You have to trust them. And I’ll always be here for you, Mark.”

He frowns, and nods. “Okay.”

(He does tell them, one evening, when they’re playing Halo, just the three of them.

He pauses the game and twists his hands together in his lap, his right hand still twitching every once in a while.

“I have something to say,” he says, and swallows, thick. “I –” He pauses, thinking. “I mean – something – and I don’t say it to scare you –”

Dustin frowns, tossing the controller to the side, sitting by him. “What is it, Mark?”

“I’m a werewolf,” he says, in a rush, and his hands are shaking.

Dustin seems to get it right away, going stiff before smiling, wide. “That is awesome.”

Chris is less enthused; he smiles at Mark but it’s not until later that he sits next to him, talks about it.

“Are you kidding?” he asks, soft, staring at Mark’s knee.

Mark shakes his head, almost imperceptibly. “I’m not.”

“Why didn’t you just tell us before?”

A shrug. “I just – I don’t do well with – with dealing with things like that. And I was scared.”

“Don’t you trust us?”

“Of course I do.”

There’s a beat. “Are you – dangerous?”

Mark shakes his head. “I’d never hurt anyone.”

“Are you sure?”

“I never have before.”

“That’s not what I was asking.”

Mark shrugs. “It’s the best I’ve got.”

Chris scotches closer to him, putting a hand on Mark’s shoulder. “You know –” and he pauses.

Mark turns to him, frowning. “What?”

Chris shakes his head. “I’m glad you told me,” he says, “us.” He pulls Mark in for a hug, pressing his face into Mark’s neck.

He’s scared, he’s got to be, but he’s not saying anything to Mark – he’s offering him comfort, and that’s really all that he can ask for.)

*

He breaks up with Erica.

It’s too close to a change for him to be rational, and she’s so incredibly not Eduardo that Mark can’t handle it.

He’s talking too quickly for her and she glares at him and tells him that he’s an asshole, and he drinks a beer before he leaves the fucking place and walks in silence, by himself.

He gets inside and his fingers are itching with the need to do something, to create something – and so he takes out his computer and blogs about it, because code is the one thing that’s never lied to him, never called him an asshole, never been anything but perfect for him, exactly as Mark wants.

(Code and Eduardo, but Eduardo’s not here and Mark’s sure he’d leave if he knew everything, because that’s what happens, is people fucking leave.)

And then there’s Facemash – and Mark throws his everything into it, into making it exactly the way that he wants it to be, into making it everything that everyone else seems so fucking convinced he isn’t – popular, cool, a good thing.

He makes Facemash and sits back, admiring his work, and nods.

The servers crash and Eduardo is there – and he’s running on adrenaline alone, by this point, adrenaline and the need to make something better, something that’s going to show those fucking assholes what he can do.

He does.

*

He comes up with the idea for Facebook because and not because of the Winklevii.

They’re talking to him and then – suddenly, it’s all that he can think about. Not their fucking dating site – something so much bigger, so much more expansive.

He leaves with a thousand and one ideas filling his mind, enough to almost overwhelm him – and when he tells Eduardo it’s with a self-satisfied excitement that he hasn’t felt in years coursing through him.

(And when he tells Eduardo that he’s CFO, Eduardo stares at him, looking absolutely shocked.

“Mark,” he says, reverent, soft, and Mark just shakes his head.

“You deserve it,” he tells him, and he means it.

Eduardo grins, wide, so happy, and it means everything.)

*

He throws his everything into thefacebook – and he loves Eduardo but the love is overshadowed, almost, by the everything else, the want that usually courses through him replaced with potential, possibility, promise.

Love, he thinks, can’t quite stop himself from thinking, as he falls asleep sometimes; Eduardo is usually somewhere in the suite, and it’s the only time he lets himself pretend it can be something.

They fall asleep entangled around each other, sometimes, when it gets to be too late and Wardo doesn’t want to be alone. Because Mark can always tell – he knows when Wardo just needs someone to hold him. He pulls Mark close, then, and breathes him in and whispers “You’re so warm, Mark.”

And Mark can do nothing but go along with it, because Wardo trusts him enough to sleep in the same bed with him, despite the possibly deathly implications of that – and it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to Mark.

He still has to control himself around Wardo, always has to control himself, but it’s easier, then, in the space between one breath and the next.

Wardo pulls him close and Mark can breathe him in, can almost entirely relax.

Those nights are the best nights, Mark’s favorites by far, overshadowing even thefacebook in those moments.

Even if there’s never anything more between them, never anything beyond friendship, Mark thinks that this will be enough.

*

He puts all of his energy into thefacebook, and it grows – and god, it’s fucking beautiful, everything coming together exactly as he wants, as he planned.

Wardo is there, a constant, and Mark watches as it gets bigger, better. He feels more human, these days – he feels more like everyone else must. Even when he changes, it’s different, more – real, more tangible, this time around.

(The night the site goes live, he grabs for Wardo’s hand, threading their fingers together, and he kisses the knuckles, needing to be close, to feel something.

Wardo smiles at him, bright, brilliant, and Mark doesn’t want anything except this.)

*

For Spring Break, Mark and Eduardo look for people to sponsor them.

Mark doesn’t really give a shit – he’s content the way things are, and he’s going to fuck everything up on purpose if it means thefacebook will be safe. He knows how people work, okay, and he’s not going to give anyone license to fuck everything up.

And then he hears about Sean Parker.

It’s two nights before the full moon when they meet, and Mark is anxious, jittery, but that’s nothing compared to Wardo, who frowns and shakes his head and breathes out, sharp, when the minutes creep by. Mark wants to hit him and he wants to shove Christy out of the way and he’s feeling a lot of emotions, not all of them particularly kind or rational; he wants, he wants, and he drinks down a glass of water, quick, so as to not let Eduardo onto his predicament.

And when Sean shows up – it’s brilliant and he talks so quickly, gestures widely, and this is the guy. It’s the guy that Mark’s been waiting for, been looking for. He gets it, he fucking gets it, and Mark doesn’t really give a shit if Wardo doesn’t like him.

He says come to Palo Alto and a billion dollars and drop the ‘the’ and Mark is more than a bit smitten – and it’s probably his werewolf inside of him, because he’s not letting himself believe that he’s developed that much of a hero worship – but the hormones are racing through him and Sean gives him a sort-of hug goodbye, and Mark’s on overdrive, every touch sending him into a frenzy that only serves to remind him how long it’s been since he got laid (Alice’s blowjob in the bathroom notwithstanding (and, god, he can still remember the noises Eduardo made as he came, the way the door almost shook behind Mark’s back)).

On the way back, Eduardo is tense, quiet, and Christy sleeps on his shoulder.

Mark doesn’t really give a shit, because – well, he can’t seem to stop thinking about Sean, about the things he said and the way he smiled, small and conspiratorial, as though he got it, really and truly got it.

He looks at Wardo and he thinks I’m going to miss you and it’s a strange though, not one he’d usually entertain, but he thinks it might be truer than he’s willing to let on.

He swallows, thick, and stares at his hands.

He doesn’t talk to Wardo that night.

*

He goes to Palo Alto.

He goes and Wardo stays and it hurts, okay, it feels like a fucking punch in the gut but everything is better, faster, more out here. Everything is wonderful and then there’s Sean, and then it’s real, gloriously real, and he’s running Facebook, quickly becoming one of the fucking biggest social networking sites on the planet.

And – and it’s so fast and so much but he only wants more, only wants to look at all of the people that laughed at him and shake his fucking head, tell them I made it and you didn’t, laugh in their faces.

He closes his eyes, one night, standing outside, and he lets himself breathe. He feels fucking young and invincible – he’s nineteen years old and he feels it in every inch of him.

He smiles, wide, and laughs. It carries on the wind and – and inside, Sean’s sleeping with someone underage and there’s marijuana everywhere but Mark doesn’t give a shit, in that moment. He can’t make himself care because this is real, this is everything, and he hasn’t had time to think about Wardo in too long.

*

They make mistakes, both of them.

And then Sean is talking to Mark – and it’s you need to get rid of him, face hard, and Mark’s closing his eyes and nodding. He knows, okay, he fucking knows that Wardo needs to go; because he’s known since the beginning, really, that Wardo wasn’t cut out for the job.

(That’s a lie, a dirty lie, but it’s the only way Mark can think of the situation, of what he knows he has to do, and not feel sick at the thought.

At the beginning he wanted so much that it might have overshadowed the knowing, but. He still feels like shit, and he knows Eduardo’s not going to forgive him for this.)

He drafts up the contracts and puts a Post-It on Dustin’s computer that says don’t sign the contract that eduardo does and he feels like shit, but.

The next time he changes, it’s with a vengeance coursing through him, and he gets hurt in the forest, again, but he lies there, letting himself heal, and he doesn’t let himself go to the doctor’s. It’s idiotic, probably (definitely) and Eduardo would kill him – but Eduardo’s not out here, that’s the thing, that’s what makes it okay that Mark’s doing what he’s doing – because Eduardo doesn’t give a shit, that much is clear.

He closes his eyes and tries to heal all on his own.

*

When Eduardo finds out, all hell breaks loose.

He runs at Mark and smashes his laptop and Mark has never been more hyperaware; he’s never wanted so fucking much, and he wants to smack him and pull him close, consume him, in a way that’s absolutely fucking terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

Wardo’s shouting at him and Mark can only take it, shrink back against the chair, though all that he wants to do is to shut him up with a kiss, to fuck him, hard, so he’ll feel it for days – but there is a time and a place and he knows this isn’t it. He’s never been one for social niceties, but this – this he understands.

“You signed the papers,” he says, shaking his head, and he’d always hoped – there was always hope, in the back of his mind, that Eduardo would read them and know, and not sign them – and then he’d have felt better about keeping him on, wouldn’t have felt as though it was just a friend doing a friend a favor.

(Mark doesn’t do anyone favors.)

“You set me up,” Eduardo says, and the words are broken, cracked, like Mark’s never before heard him sound.

There’s shouting and Eduardo tries to hit Sean and Mark watches it all, dazed. He feels like he’s going to throw up, a bit – because Eduardo’s leaving him and he can do nothing to stop it because the beat of this is your fault drums through his veins.

It’s entirely his fault – all of it, all of this, Eduardo’s rage, the smashed laptop, everything. It’s his fault.

And he hopes that Eduardo will come back, but he doubts it; because Eduardo’s always been one for personal offense where none was meant, and Mark’s never respected that as much as he probably should have.

He’s never understood why anyone cared what anyone else thought – Eduardo, especially, because Eduardo’s fucking perfect, okay, he’s brilliant and smart and – perfect. Mark doesn’t give a shit what people think of him – but that was before Eduardo, that was before lawyer up and the fear coursing through his veins.

That was before Eduardo left, and he realized the true implications of his leaving.

*

(“You’re a fucking freak,” Eduardo hisses to him, when they’re in an elevator together.

Mark looks at him, frowning.

“You know what I mean. You fucking wolf. You fucking – monster, okay. You’re a monster and you don’t care. No one’s going to love you, no one can love you. You’re going to die alone.”

Mark’s silent, staring at his hands, and he hopes that this is just coming from a place of anger, not real, but he knows that it’s not the case.

Eduardo steps out of the elevator, looking perfectly put-together, not wrinkled in the least. “And that’s what you deserve,” he says, almost as an afterthought – though Mark takes pride in the fact that he can hear the slight tremor behind the words, and knows this must be affecting him, too, even if he won’t show it.

Mark nods, and steps out of the elevator just as the doors are closing. “You’re probably right,” he says, voice mild, and he forces a smile. “I deserve to be alone. I’m a monster. I’ve heard it before. I thought – but no. Why should you be any different?”

Eduardo frowns.

Mark laughs, a short, bitter sound that isn’t anything like his usual voice. “You’re suing me,” he says, because he’s still almost surprised by it – because he can barely believe Wardo did something like this (but it wasn’t Wardo, he has to remind himself, it was Eduardo, the man who follows his father’s wishes instead of his own heart, and that’s not the person that Mark fell in love with, that’s not the person that Mark wants to be in love with). “You’re fucking suing me for half a million dollars.”

“And why shouldn’t I?”

Mark shrugs, his fuck-you shrug that never fails to make Eduardo angry – and that’s nice, the way he can still read him, still read the tensing of his jaw and the straightening of his shoulders. “Because it won’t change a god damn thing,” he hisses through his teeth, shooting out the words like knives. “Because you know it won’t and you know you’re going to get your settlement and your father still won’t –”

And then pain, blooming over the side of his face, and Mark’s mouth falls open and he can’t see out of his right eye.

Eduardo’s punched him – and he looks strangely satisfied by it, as though the act made anything better (but it’s like the money; feels good at the moment but Mark knows that later it won’t be enough).

“Better clean that up,” Eduardo says, voice low, as though he doesn’t care, but Mark’s face is stinging and clearly it does.

Wardo walks into the room.)

*

Years pass.

Chris and Dustin stay.

It’s just Dustin, at first – he’s the only one to put Mark back together and though he’s livid, he makes that clear, he does put Mark back together. He heals him and doesn’t let him alone and in the time of the after, of after he can speak again and feel like a person again, Mark thanks him.

He grabs his hand when Dustin’s leaving one day, lacing their fingers together. Dustin’s always been more touchy than Mark, and he only hopes that it won’t be misconstrued.

“Thank you,” Mark whispers, soft, and swallows, thick. “I just – thank you.”

Dustin smiles, and nods, squeezing back. “Anytime, boss,” and it’s like things are okay.

(Things aren’t okay. When Dustin finds the bits of laptop he shouts at Mark until he’s hoarse but the next day he’s there with a cupcake saying sorry on it, and he shrugs.

“I’m not sorry for what I said, but I’m sorry Wardo left,” he says, and it’s funny, how that’s exactly what Mark’s feeling.)

Chris comes later – he comes after graduation, when he can be Mark’s PR again, and he treats Mark with a healthy amount of distaste before seeming to grasp that Mark is different, now.

Because he is. Mark’s changed, and he hopes that comes across. He tries to shout, less, and to think of other people’s feelings more – and Dustin tells him he’s doing well, on the days when Mark feels as though he’s doing anything but.

Chris comes, too, and he helps Mark heal.

It’s been six years since you monster, six years since Mark signed a check and watched him walk away, and Mark’s still feeling the effects of it, rippling through his life. He’s still feeling the phantom presence of Eduardo, over his shoulder; he turns, sometimes, to say things that Eduardo would find entertaining and it’s as though he’s dead, the realization that Eduardo’s not there is so shocking.

They invite Eduardo to every shareholders’ meeting that they can, but after a while Mark stops sending personal invitations. He gets it – he really does, because he knows what it’s like to be so angry you can’t see, to be blinded with hate that other people only dream about.

He’d never thought that Eduardo would hate him, had always thought, in the back of his mind, that they’d stay friends for a long time, until both of them were functional enough to work alone – but Eduardo hasn’t come back, and Mark’s losing hope.

Of course, as soon as he does, Eduardo surprises him.

*

“I miss him,” Mark says, one day, sitting at his desk.

Chris looks up, face soft. “Eduardo?” he asks, but there’s something in his voice to suggest that he already knows.

Mark nods, and he feels like shit – worse than, really, because he still can’t get over this, years later. He still can’t forget the beautiful boy that loved him (loved him?) despite who he was, what he was, and he can’t stop regretting how much he fucked everything up.

Chris bites his lip, looking down, and there’s something like sadness in his eyes. “I think he misses you too.”

Mark shakes his head, and he feels impossibly sad and impossibly lonely. He has thousands of friends on Facebook, but he feels entirely alone; he has no one that’s replaced Eduardo, as hard as Chris and Dustin have tried. “I don’t think so,” he says, and his voice is toneless.

“You can’t know that.”

“And you can?”

Chris stares at him, eyes wide, and Mark remembers – because Chris went to college with him, Chris has seen him in the past two years.

“He misses me?” Mark asks, soft, feeling so, so vulnerable.

Chris nods, reaching out to pat his hand, and it feels comforting instead of patronizing, so Mark stays still and lets himself be comforted. “He does. I suggest you don’t fuck it up this time.”



(part two)