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01 June 2011 @ 11:15 pm
Couldn't Stay Away  
Old friend, why are you so shy?

Pairing: Mentioned Mark/Eduardo.
Length: 1,952 words.
Rating: PG.
Summary: Mark sees Eduardo, ten years after the depositions, and they meet.


Couldn’t Stay Away


At first, he sees the little girl.

Mark smiles, walking across the street, as she reaches up to hug her mother, who coos to her, tapping her on the nose. And then the girl reaches for her father, calls him Dad in an unmistakable Portuguese-American accent, and out of some deep-rooted curiosity, he looks at the father’s face.

Eduardo.

He hasn’t thought the name in years, and so the surprise he feels isn’t unwarranted, not really. He hasn’t seen Eduardo in – well, since the depositions, since “I was your only friend” and “It was Caribbean night”. Since the day he wrote a check and never saw Eduardo again.

The Eduardo he had known would have wanted to get to know Mark again, would have smiled and reminisced, but that isn’t an acceptable way to think, anymore, because this Eduardo isn’t the Eduardo that Mark had known, that Mark had loved; now he’s an adult, an adult with a wife and a family and children.

Mark’s the same, though. Mark is still Mark, still in love with Facebook, still drinking too many Red Bulls.

One thing, though, is different. Mark’s sorry. And knowing that is making all of the difference.


He didn’t expect to see him here, of all places. After the depositions, after everything – well, Eduardo had wanted to fall off of the face of the Earth, and Mark had let him, because why would he want to hurt him any more than he had already?

Of course, he hadn’t expected to see him here. And married, too. Mark smiles, because the little girl has his hair, all over the place, and his eyes, big and brown. He knows that, just like Eduardo, if she asked him anything he wouldn’t be able to say no.

The thought makes him inexplicably sad, and he closes his eyes, shaking his head. He leaves.


Of course, hours later, when he’s lying on his bed and wondering what the hell went wrong in his life, he’s telling himself that he’s an idiot, that he should have talked to Eduardo, at least.

I didn’t mean it. He hadn’t meant to hurt him. He hadn’t meant to end their friendship. He hadn’t meant to break either of their hearts, and he’d done all of that and more.

That was years ago. Ten years, and Mark was still feeling the pain and loss of losing – what? His best friend?

No. Eduardo was more, had always been more than his best friend, and then he hadn’t been, and Mark hadn’t known that but the I was your only friend was laced with so much more, with the promise of nothing, ever, and Mark had, for the first time, felt regret.

He’d wanted to apologize, then, but he hadn’t really felt it, because he wasn’t sorry, and Eduardo would have known that. And so he didn’t, praying the entire time that there would be something, that Eduardo would tell him that he was forgiven. It wasn’t about the lawsuit for either of them. It was about getting attention, and, well, Mark-at-nineteen had figured that everything would work out. Just like the movies.

But life wasn’t a movie, and time had passed and the chance had flown further and further away, until he was here, lying on this bed, closing his eyes and wondering where everything had gone wrong.

Without much thinking about it, Mark gets up and goes to his laptop, opening Facebook. Eduardo has a Facebook page, got one a couple of years after everything happened, but Mark’s never tried to contact him. The only reason he knows is because Dustin told him, with a small smile and a hand on his shoulder, that maybe this was it and maybe he’s all right now.

But Mark is Mark, has always been Mark, and he ignored this, only going to the page once, to check everything out.

It’s as sparse now as it was then, only a picture of Eduardo and his family, smiling at the camera, and a small About Me that Mark doesn’t want to read. Eduardo isn’t his friend anymore, and this is different. It’s not business, but it’s not pleasure, either.

He clicks the Send Message button and starts to type.

Eduardo

I saw you were here. Where I am. I know we haven’t spoken in a long time, and we haven’t been civil for longer, but I’d like to meet with you. Just to say hello.

Mark

He goes to sleep after that, physically forcing himself away from the laptop.


In the morning, he doesn’t let himself go to the computer right away, making himself get up and walk around, eat breakfast. You don’t want to be disappointed.

And then, over an hour after he’s gotten up, he goes, checking Facebook.

There’s a message from Eduardo.

He feels his heart stop and clicks Open.

Mark

I’m not sure if that message was intentional or a result of too much alcohol and too-speedy fingers, but either way, I’m interested to hear what you’ve got to say. That ‘hello’ is code for something more, I’m sure.

I was at a park yesterday. I’m fairly certain that’s where you saw us, which is more than a bit creepy, Mark. Let’s meet there at two.

Eduardo

Mark feels himself breathe out slowly, a grin sliding across his face.


It’s two PM on the dot when Mark gets there, looking around. Eduardo isn’t there, and he has a moment of panic – He didn’t mean it, he tricked me – before calming down. He’s late. It isn’t a big deal.

But that’s a lie. Of course it is, because everything with Eduardo meant something, from the first time they met – “My name’s Mark and I’d rather be coding.” – “Well, that’s no way to be. Perhaps a dance’ll change your mind?” – “Doubtful.” – to Facebook’s inception – “I can’t feel my legs.” – “I know, I’m excited, too.” – and this is no different. This has been years in the making. He forces himself to calm down.

Eduardo walks up, a small sort-of smile on his face. “Mark.”

“Eduardo.” Mark stands up, brushing imaginary dirt off of his pants. On a whim, he holds out his hand.

He shakes it, and they sit down. It’s more than a bit awkward, but Mark was expecting that, and so he starts right into his speech.

“I was in love with you.”

Eduardo stares at him.

All right, so that wasn’t how he was planning on starting that conversation, but it’s as good a way as any.

“At Harvard. I was – in love with you.”

Eduardo doesn’t say anything, just blinks at him softly.

Mark swallows. “And I never told you. And I know that now is a terrible time, but – I wanted to say.”

“Is that why you wanted to meet?” Eduardo’s face is neutral.

“No.” Mark sighs. “I just – that was the driving force behind it – everything, really. I didn’t want you to leave me and so I – well, I thought that you never would.”

Eduardo nods slowly. He doesn’t seem surprised or angry, and so Mark continues, swallowing back any fear he’s had.

“And… then you did. And I’ve wanted to say something for a long time, you know, because – well, I was an idiot.”

“Yes, you were,” Eduardo murmurs, but he’s got a faint smile on his face, and so Mark doesn’t think that he’s all that angry, anymore.

“But I haven’t. So. I just wanted to say.”

He’s never been good at endings, and Eduardo seems to appreciate that, actually laughing now.

“You loved me.” Eduardo sounds as though he can’t quite believe it, as though he wants to but just can’t make himself, has to be sure. “You—you never said anything.”

Mark shrugs, feeling a weight lifting off of him, little by little. “I thought you’d be the one to say something.” It’s odd, being here, talking to Eduardo as though nothing has happened. Ten years and he still feels the same, still feels as though he’s tripping on his words, even discussing this, what he was once so sure about. “I don’t think – well, you were – and then there was Christy –”

“Don’t pin this on her, there was over a year before that.” Eduardo’s voice is sharp, but not malicious.

Mark swallows. “I know, I was an idiot.”

“Yes, you were.”

“I’m sorry.” And it’s easy to say that, because he’s felt it, and this—being with Eduardo, here, no, he’s more sure about this than anything else.

Eduardo blinks. “You—what?”

“I’m sorry. It’s—god, it sounds so—was it worth it? I’ve asked myself that a million times, and-I don’t know. It wasn’t—it was what Facebook needed but it wasn’t what you deserved. I’m sorry.” He smiles, just a bit. This is why I’m here.

Eduardo nods, looking down and twisting his hands together. “I—thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

There is more silence, a comfortable silence, before Eduardo speaks. “I loved you, too.”

Mark smiles a bit. “I… I know.”

“Did you?”

“Not then.” He gives another small, sad smile. “But… I do now. You did, and so did I.” He sighs. “We could’ve been everything. Mark and Wardo. What we could have had—didn’t happen, because I’m an idiot. You would have been too good for me, anyway.” He cracks a smile. “You deserve someone nice.”

Eduardo acts as though he hasn’t heard him, keeps talking. “You were my everything, back then. Until—until that happened, I would have done anything for you. You were my first love.” Eduardo shrugs, but it’s not defeated. “And my biggest heartbreak.”

Mark swallows, closing his eyes. He doesn’t know what to say; how can anything be said? “Me, too,” he finally manages.

Eduardo smiles. “I’m happy now,” he says after a moment. “Really… happy.”

“I’m glad.”

“Are you? Happy, I mean?”

Mark nods; he doesn’t have to think about it. “Facebook is—” He cuts off, not sure how to finish hat.

“Everything to you, and it’s successful. Of course you’re happy.”

Mark nods again, sheepish.

“I don’t blame you. Your dreams came true, it was what you always wanted.”

“I wanted you, too.”

“But you wanted it—Facebook—more. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily. Just… a thing. It just is.”

“Yeah,” Mark says, nodding. It is.

“I’m glad you’re happy. Back then—well, back then I wouldn’t have been, but now—now I have Maria and—I can be rational. I really am glad.”

And it’s genuine, and it’s real, and Mark feels his chest loosen, just a little bit.

“Thank you,” Mark says, looking down at his hands.

“For what?”

“For letting me do this.”

“What?”

Mark shrugs. “Forgive myself.”

Eduardo smiles.



And that is all that needs to be said, though the conversation continues. Neither of them say too much—it’s all been put on the line, today.

Mark doesn’t know what’s going to happen. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever see Eduardo again, but as he walks away, waving a final hand in farewell, he knows that’s not what’s important.

Both of them have lives separate from each other, and while once upon a time it might have been different, now things are stilted between them. They can’t go back to what they were, and Mark isn’t sure he would want to.

He waves goodbye, and he feels the final weight lift off of his chest. He has his closure.

He can move on.
 
 
Lelaleladancer18 on August 13th, 2011 02:29 am (UTC)
Aww, sweet and brief but very fitting. :)
Skyskyearth85 on August 13th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
it's fabulous bittersweet. *sigh* one don't forget never the first love, even if it's been tragic, even if you are now in a happy and healthy relationship, there is always.... well a little regret, I suppose.

beautiful, really beautiful :)
gogothgirlgogothgirl on December 27th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
ugh. why do i do this to myself? WHY OH WHY DID I PUT ADELE ON LOOP AND READ THIS. WHY. SPECIFICALLY SOMEONE LIKE YOU, BTW. i just-ugh. i need caffeine.