i'm just a painter ( moogle62) wrote,
i'm just a painter

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fic: TSN; sweet on you (PG-13/R) (1a/3)

WHAT. IS. THIS. This also started life as an innocent fic venture and then turned into a monster that ate my life, it ate ate ate my life, etc. ALL I WANTED WAS FOR THEM TO BE HAPPY AND MAYBE HAVE SOME FROSTING-SMEARED SEX, WAS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

title: sweet on you
fandom: the social network
pairing: mark/eduardo
rating: pg-13 this part, but like R/NC-17 over all.
word count: ~13, 900 this part. (THIS. PART. WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME)
disclaimer: these are a) not based on the real people but their fictional counterparts from the 2010 film, and b) not my characters either.
summary: BAKERY AU. Mark is Mark, Eduardo owns a bakery/café near the Facebook offices. Mark does not have time to have a thing for him, but he totally, totally does. Sadly for Mark's continued enjoyment of a harassment-free existence, Dustin is still Dustin and is entirely devoted to his causes of a) getting Mark laid, b) acquiring all the gossip, and c) acquiring all the baked goods he can. Featuring novelty shaped cookies, frosting in places frosting should never be, and ~feelings~.
a/n: this happened because I reacted to the end of the film like this: WELL THAT WAS MISERABLE, I NEED SOME CAKE >> CAKE MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER >> CAKE WOULD MAKE MARK BETTER >> BAKERY AU! Hilariously, I know nothing about running bakeries, running websites, or Brazil. ~successful at all things~ This is actually saved on my computer as "diabetes-inducing bakery au", so there's that. CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED: THIS IS NOT A GREAT WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS.


And, also, gracewang translated this part of the fic into Chinese! No-one has ever translated anything of mine into another language before! It is pretty amazing. (You need to register for the site it's on first, I think? BUT ANYWAY. agsjh)

"Mark," Eduardo is panting, hot against Mark's neck, and Mark is arching up off the floor against him, and there's frosting fucking everywhere, even in places where frosting really, really doesn't need to be, and Eduardo is biting along the underside of Mark's jaw, and holy fucking shit.

In retrospect, Mark really should have seen this coming.


Since Facebook became big enough that Mark needed an assistant, Mark has developed a way of working out when he really does need to leave the office and when people are just nagging him unnecessarily. If his assistant is still bringing him Red Bulls without bitching at him about it - he likes the assistants who talk back, because the ones who just blink and do what he says tend to be the ones that quit after he says something to them that Chris comes and shouts at him for - then he's fine. If his assistant starts alternating Red Bulls with water, Mark goes to the cafeteria and gets something to eat, so that when she inevitably asks him if he has, he doesn't have to lie. He thinks Chris maybe somehow hires mind readers, because Lauren always knows if he's lying.

Anyway. There's a steady pattern that unfolds, from Lauren refusing to bring him any more caffeine to sending Dustin in to, what, Mark isn't sure, bug him into going home, maybe, and then, finally, Chris arrives.

Chris is currently leaning against Mark's desk and looking distinctly unimpressed.

"Mark," he says. "Mark. Hey, Mark, I'm not standing here for the good of my health."

"Well, you're not doing mine any good either."

Chris puts his hands over Mark's on the keyboard, stopping him from typing. "Mark."

Mark looks up.

Chris doesn't let go of his fingers. He's holding Mark's gaze like he's telepathically communicating what he wants. Mark isn't telepathic, so that plan is doomed to failure.

"I've been home every night this week," Mark says. "And it's the afternoon, so I'm allowed to be awake."

"That's - not really the point," says Chris. "Have you actually been outside this week?"

"I just said - "

"Yeah," says Chris, "but there's a difference between going from your car to your house to your car to your office, and not dying from lack of Vitamin D."

"That's not a thing," says Mark.

"If anyone could manage it, you could," Chris says. "Please go outside."

"I live in California," Mark says. "I don't think I've got SAD."

"Mark - "

Mark keeps going. "And we've got the updates on Thursday, and I need to - "

"Mark - "

" - work on the profile update, and - "


Mark stops talking.

"If you don't leave this office in the next half hour," Chris says, "I will resort to desperate measures."

Mark says, snorting, "I think I can take it."

Chris raises an eyebrow. "Do you really want to take that chance?"

Mark thinks about being at Harvard for their last set of finals before they left for their first Palo Alto summer, Facebook the only thing on Mark's mind and Chris frantically studying all hours of the day and being determined that Mark should at least sit the exams, even if he refused to study for them, and how, when Mark had been up coding the night before his OS exam and fallen asleep on his keyboard, Chris had had Dustin come in and sing it's the final countdown with unwarranted enthusiasm right in his ear until Mark had woken up and hit him.

Chris is an evil, evil person, is the point.

"Fine," Mark says, finally pulling his hands away from the keyboard and out of Chris's grip. "I'll think about it."

Chris eyes him, walking to the door. "You've got twenty-nine minutes to think about it."

"I'm so scared," Mark dead-pans.

"Twenty-nine minutes, Mark," Chris reiterates, and leaves.

Mark looks back at the unfinished lines of code running across his screen and out of nowhere remembers tumbling through the snow to Kirkland, thinking relationship status, relationship status over and over, toes freezing and the code just there in his head, crystallizing, so that when he got his hands on his keyboard it was all he could do to get it out, frantic, like he hadn't created it at all, like it had been waiting for him to see it all this time.

He looks out of the window. It's sunny, the kind of light that washes everything yellow and sleepy, and he doubts waking somnambulism is really going to inspire great things. On the other hand, he remembers the bite of freezing air on his face and the tight, giddy feeling of everything hurtling into place, and in here he's feeling stagnant and nothing's coming together right, and so he figures it probably can't hurt.

When he leaves his office, Dustin actually cheers, which Mark thinks is a bit of an over-reaction.

"Where're you going, Mark?" Dustin asks, bounding up to him. "Are you going outside?"

Mark swats at him.

"Chris will be so pleased," Dustin says. "And also, with no ulterior motives at all, let me just say that if you're going for a walk, you should walk past Eduardo’s. And by "past" I mean "into"."

For the last couple of weeks, and Mark has no idea how this started, a weird sort of office tradition has sprung up whereby at lunch, someone nips out and comes back ten minutes later bearing a white bakery box and the entire office crowds round like hyenas to make pornographic noises over cakes and pastries, and then they presumably go and put their icing-sticky fingers all over their keyboards again. Dustin has tried to wave Mark over on a couple of occasions but Mark is pretty good at ignoring him. Then there's the emails --

from: dustinohyeahitsdustin@facebook.com
to: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
subj: you are disturbing the balance of the universe!!!

seriously dude you have to try one of these cakes it's like heaven spat them out

only less revolting and more DELICIOUS FROSTING GOODNESS!!!

- and:

from: dustinohyeahitsdustin@facebook.com
to: mark.zuckerberg@facebook.com
subj: marital frosting bliss

can i marry a bakery? is that legal? i think i am going to marry Eduardo’s anyway and have illicit cakey babies

-- so Mark gets the enthusiastic picture. He just - he likes cake as much as the next guy but it's not like he's going to drop everything for it.

Dustin bats his eyelashes, because he's disturbing like that. "Pretty please?"

And, okay, it's not like Mark had a specific idea about where to go once he got outside the Facebook building, so why not.

"Fine, whatever," he says, and Dustin practically beams.


It's not like he's expecting at all. Mark somehow has this mental image of all bakeries being, like, pink and staffed entirely by floury, smiling women. This is not the case. Eduardo's has a clean, white front with a big bay window to the left of the door. Inside, there's a light wooden floor and white walls and a few tables and chairs, painted streakily white and the pale wood shows through where the paint is thinnest. At the back there's a glass display case that looks more like the cryo pods in Alien than something that should be in a bakery, and it's stuffed, piled plates edging up on each other over both long shelves.

"Won't be a second," someone calls, from behind the green curtain at the back of the counter, and the someone is definitely male.

So. Not what Mark was expecting. He looks around, fidgeting. There are power sockets on the walls next to the tables, which Mark definitely approves of. There's also an actual chalkboard on one of the walls detailing drinks and prices, and a complicated-looking coffee machine behind the counter. Mark supposes it's all very welcoming, but he's starting to think code not cake, and he's halfway back to the door when a voice stops him.

"Hi," says the someone from the back of the shop, and Mark turns back round to see a guy about his own age stepping round the curtain, wiping his hands on the apron he's wearing, a pair of oven-gloves slung over his shoulder. Mark's going to go out on a limb and assume this is Eduardo. Okay, so maybe the gender's wrong but this is a little more like bakery in Mark's mind. The guy's smiling, big and genuine, and Mark knows he should stay and buy something but he's thinking again about the app updates coming up Thursday, and potential typos in potentially unchecked third-party code, and his fingers are itching for his keyboard.

"Um," says Mark, "yeah, I have to go."

"So soon?" says the guy, his mouth quirking up into a smile, and Mark just shrugs, not quite understanding his tone, and leaves.


Dustin's face actually falls when he sees Mark walk back in empty-handed.

"No cake?" he asks.

Mark ignores him.

"No cake, no bueno," Dustin calls.

"Shut up, Dustin."


Mark's been tooling around with a profile redesign for the last couple of weeks, on and off. It's not quite coming together the way he'd like it to be, and interns have actually started just, like, jumping out of his way if they pass him in the corridors, which is maybe not a good sign. Chris keeps giving him these looks, the ones that mean Mark, do we need to have a talk? I think we need to have a talk which Mark has worked out are always the immediate precursors to Chris staging what he calls interventions and Mark calls interruptions, but Mark knows he's this close from getting it, from making it work, and he wires in and tries to get it done.

Which is, of course, when the power goes out.

This wouldn't be too big of a problem except that Mark has been working on his sofa the whole morning, since Chris came and glowered at him from the doorway when he saw him cracking the kinks out of his spine, and his laptop has started telling him to plug it the fuck in, no, seriously, wire out, you idiot, and plug me in. Mark was honestly going to, any minute, but he's been trying to get to a certain break in the code before he gets up, and now the little battery icon has turned red, and the electricity is down, and fuck, fuck, fuck.

He's saved the code, he's not an idiot, and he knows he could move to one of the computers on the main office floor, or appropriate a laptop and bring it back to his office, but it's always jarring, typing on a computer that isn't his own, and the code was finally unfolding for him and he can feel it curling back with every minute his fingers are off the keyboard. He can hear people talking outside his office, surprised, making sure everything is backed up and running okay, and Mark would be more concerned about that if this code wasn't pounding hot through his brain, excluding other thought, like useful ones, like plug your fucking laptop in.

He wishes he were back in their sophomore suite at Harvard, headphones over his ears and only having to tune out Dustin and Chris, easy, familiar, and wiring in easily, familiarly. He looks around the office through his big glass wall, and wants to get out and finish this code. It thrums in his veins, an actual need. It's too far to his house and his laptop battery wouldn't last the drive, and Mark's drumming his fingers on the arm of his chair, thinking lines of code over and over, keeping them there.

And then he remembers, out of nowhere - Eduardo’s; the power points on the walls, the quiet, only an easy, fast walk away.

Dustin pokes his head round the door, saying, "Mark, are you - " but Mark is already grabbing his laptop and the power cord and his headphones, saying, "Call me if anything crashes," and is on his way out.

He barrels through the door at Eduardo’s and slams himself down at one of the little tables, fumbling to get everything plugged in, and then he slaps his headphones on and bashes the code out until it's out of his blood, emails it to himself just in case, and then he sits back and breathes out. This is also when he notices the guy from before, leaning on his elbows across the counter and looking at him with this half amused smile.

"What?" says Mark, king of social niceties, pushing his headphones down around his neck.

"Hello again," says the guy.


"I'm Eduardo."


Eduardo smiles, which is confusing, because usually people do the exact opposite when Mark says something like that. "Okay," Eduardo says, "but you don't come with a sign."

"Mark," says Mark, still slightly thrown. "Why are you looking at me?"

"You're the only one in here," says Eduardo. "I mean, that, and you came flying in here so fast I thought maybe you were being chased by angry bees or something."

Mark doesn't know what to say.

Eduardo says, "You know, in case the bees were distracted by all the sugar."

"Bees make honey," Mark says, because when all else fails, being right is usually his fallback option. "Why would they chase me to a bakery when they've got all the honey they want at home?"

Eduardo shrugs. "You were the one being chased," he says. "Why'd you seek refuge in here?"

Mark stares at him. "You know I wasn't actually being chased by bees, right?"

Eduardo laughs, like Mark's said something really funny. Mark isn't really sure what's happening.

"Can I get you something?" Eduardo says. "Coffee? Cookie? Bee-repellent?"

Mark abruptly remembers two things: one, he doesn't have his wallet on him, and two, you're supposed to order something before you abuse the electricity and/or internet privileges of a shop.

It must show on his face or something, because when he looks back up from patting his pockets down in a futile search for spare change, Eduardo's smile has gone crooked, like Mark is genuinely just that entertaining. It's kind of endearing. Mark has never really found anything endearing before. He starts gathering up his laptop.

"No, wait," says Eduardo, and Mark turns to stare at him again. "It's fine, I'll start you a tab or something."

Mark says, "You do that here?"

Eduardo shrugs. "I can make an exception."

"I don't want to be an exception," Mark says.

"Sure you do," says Eduardo, easily, and Mark goes hot all over, thinking of watching hazings and never being punched. "Come on, I make a great latte."

"Ugh," says Mark, before he can stop himself. "No thanks, I'm not a girl."

"You're wearing flip-flops."

"Flip-flops are unisex," says Mark, going hotter. "And do you usually talk to your customers this way?"

"Ah," says Eduardo, "but you haven't bought anything yet, so you can't be a customer."

"Black coffee, then," says Mark. "And less abuse."

Eduardo grins at him. "Yes, sir."

"That's better," says Mark, and finds himself grinning back without really meaning to.

Eduardo turns his back to use the ridiculous coffee machine, and Mark looks back at his laptop and starts tweaking bits of code here and there, and doesn't look up again until Eduardo slides a cup onto the table next to him.

"Thanks," says Mark, remembering.

"And take this," says Eduardo, and he presses a biscotti into Mark's hand. Eduardo's fingers are warm, Mark notices.

"I didn't - " Mark says, but Eduardo cuts him off.

"Call it an incentive to come back," he says, and touches Mark's elbow before leaving him to it.

Mark dunks the biscotti into the coffee, because he is a child, and it's really, stupidly good.

"What time do you open tomorrow?" he blurts, swallowing a mouthful of crumbs.

Eduardo smiles some more. Mark has literally never met anyone this friendly, and he knows Dustin. "Half seven," he says.

"I guess I could come by in the morning," Mark says. "You know, to settle my tab."

"Sounds good," Eduardo says. His smile goes all the way into his eyes. He is like a cartoon person, Mark thinks. "See you then."


The power is back when Mark gets back to the office, and Dustin pounces on him the second he walks through the door, following Mark into his office and hopping up onto his desk while Mark sets out his laptop again.

"So, Mark," he says. "Where'd you run off to?"

"Somewhere with working electricity," says Mark.

"That only rules out here," says Dustin, tapping his fingers against his chin like this actually requires thought. "Mark, if you don't tell me, I will just start naming places until you give in."

Mark ignores him. Sadly, this is not a strategy that ever works with Dustin, but it doesn't mean he's not going to give it some concerted effort.

"Starbucks?" says Dustin. "A library? Pluto? Mars?"

Mark's eye is twitching a little.

"Did you just set up a sign on the street that said will sell body for battery packs? Give me a clue at least."

"Why does this matter to you so much?"

Dustin shrugs. "You are my reason to breathe, my light, my soul, my air - "

"Dustin - "

"- and my boss, and you have terrible people skills, and Chris said I needed to check to see if he needed to run damage control."

"Jesus Christ, I wasn't gone that long."

"Yeah," says Dustin, "but you did sort of storm out of here, so you can see his point."

Mark cannot really see his point.

"I went to Eduardo's," he says, in the futile hope that this will finally make Dustin leave him alone, but, alas, the opposite happens.

"Eduardo's?" screeches Dustin, like Mark had said the White House. "Mark, tell me you were well-behaved."

"I'm not a fucking puppy, Dustin, it's not like I'm going to start chewing the furniture or anything."

Dustin eyes him warily. "We can't have you out scaring the populace. Especially not the populace at Eduardo’s, because if we stopped being served there I think we might all die of sugar-withdrawal."

"It was fine," says Mark, trying to elbow Dustin off his desk. "Eduardo was fine about it, everything was fine."

Dustin does something obscene with his eyebrows and doesn't budge. "Eduardo?"

"Yeah, you know, the bakery guy."

"The bakery guy?" Dustin says, in the same tone that other people might say The Beatles, like Mark using his name so casually is causing Dustin actual physical pain.

"Dustin, you have to stop repeating everything I say or I am going to brain you with a stapler."

"Pffft," says Dustin. "I'd like to see you try."

"Go away," says Mark. "The grown-ups have busy work to do."

"The grown-ups have a crush on bakery guy," says Dustin, and Mark splutters, completely caught off guard.


"He's the person you turned to in your time of need," Dustin says, sounding absolutely delighted. "Oh my god, Mark, it's almost like you're a real boy!"

"Get out," says Mark, not even trying to hide his horror. "Please, please, get out."

"You want to put your plug in his socket!" Dustin calls, backing towards the door, and Mark lobs the stapler at his face.


Mark goes to Eduardo's before he goes to work the next morning, partly because he'd said he would, and partly because he's been thinking about what Dustin said - which is never a good path to go down - and okay, maybe he was a little preoccupied yesterday, and maybe he should have, like, asked if it was okay or whatever before he wired in. Whatever. Mark's priorities don't really leave room for asking in situations like that.

Eduardo isn't in the front of the shop when Mark walks in, so he waits by the counter for a minute, feeling a bit ridiculous.

"Hello?" he says, after a bit.

Eduardo comes round the curtain with flour all down his shirt, but he's smiling anyway. How can one person smile so much? Mark wonders if his face hurts after a while. He also wonders who the hell wears a dress shirt to bake in, but then he's not the world's expert on sartorial choices so he can't really comment.

"Mark," Eduardo says, brushing the flour off with the flat of his hand, beaming. "Hi."

Mark slides some money across the counter. "Here," he says. "Consider my tab settled."

"Great," says Eduardo. "Can I get you a coffee?"

"Yes," says Mark, and in the same breath, "but not on my tab."

"Looking for a clean slate, is that it?"

Mark doesn't know what to say to that.

"I'm kidding," says Eduardo.

"I know," says Mark.

There's a brief pause and then Eduardo turns back from turning on the coffee machine and says, "So, tell me what you do."

"What?" says Mark.

"You looked pretty busy yesterday," Eduardo elaborates.

"Oh, yeah," says Mark, because, after all, he does sort of, maybe, owe Eduardo an explanation for that one. "Um, the power went out in our offices and I was in the middle of - something, so. It was pretty important."

"Obviously," says Eduardo, like maybe it wasn't. Mark has gotten used to people just agreeing with him about that, so it takes him a second to react.

"I'm CEO," he says, defensive. "Everything I do is important."

Eduardo raises his eyebrows. "CEO?" He passes Mark his coffee. Their fingers brush. Mark is pretending he didn't notice.

"Yeah," says Mark, again, and then, all in a rush, because he never stops wanting to tell people, and because Eduardo is looking at him with dark, impressed eyes, "It's Facebook, I invented Facebook."

"Facebook?" says Eduardo. "Oh my god, seriously?"


"That's - so - " Eduardo's face does something complicated-looking, and he goes, "Oh my god, you're Mark Zuckerberg," which never really gets old either.

Mark nods, burning his tongue on the gulp of coffee he takes to keep from grinning inappropriately at him.

Eduardo's eyes are really wide. "Your assistant, Lauren," he says, which is not where Mark was expecting this to go, "she comes here every day."

Mark nods again. "Yeah."

"Every day."

"Yeah, um," Mark isn't really sure what this has to do with anything, but whatever. "Everyone's sort of obsessed with you at work. I mean, your baking. It's practically a cult."

Eduardo looks so unbelievably flattered that Mark has to look away and fidget with the strap of his backpack. He hadn't really noticed yesterday, what with the power going out and the code like a physical need in the back of his mind, but Eduardo is sort of unnecessarily attractive. He's got the biggest eyes Mark has seen outside of, like, the anime his sister makes him watch when he goes home for the holidays, and stupidly dramatic hair, and he's sort of stupidly nice to boot. Mark really, really doesn't need this to happen but he's getting the same sort of lost, hot feeling he got when he'd been pacing the floor at Harvard, saying to a confused, slightly drunk Dustin, it'll be like taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online, dizzy with spooling, unraveling, possibilities. That was better, obviously, because that was Mark's, possibilities he was fucking dragging up around him, but this is almost as heady.

Mark jams his hands in his pockets, and tries to get a grip.

"A cult?" Eduardo is saying. "So am I, like, the leader or just the conduit for baked goods?"

Mark shrugs. "You're an enabler."

"You basically bought my new oven," Eduardo says. "So, thanks."

"It wasn't me," Mark says, honestly. "But, um. Okay."

Eduardo laughs, all open and happy; Mark really suddenly has to go and be anywhere else until he can stop thinking ridiculous things about Eduardo's mouth.

"Um," he says again, because he is gifted with the art of sparkling conversation, "I have to go. Work. You know."

"I do sort of know," says Eduardo, still smiling at him. "Work. Go do Facebook things."

"I will," says Mark. "You go bake things."

Eduardo laughs again, like this is legitimately funny. Mark needs to leave, like, much, much faster than he is doing.

"Okay then," he says, awkwardly. "Thanks for the coffee."

He's heading for the door when Eduardo says, "Come back anytime, though," and he probably says it to everyone, because he's polite and friendly and running a business, but Mark says, "Yeah, okay," and surprises himself by actually meaning it.


He walks through the bakery door the next morning, and Eduardo smiles like seeing Mark shuffling in with sleep still in his eyes and a creased hoody on is the best thing that could have happened to him.

"Hello again," he says. "Coffee?"

"Fast coffee," Mark mumbles, belligerent with the morning at large, and Eduardo smiles bigger, all crinkly and warm, and Mark is so fucking gone it isn't even funny, and it's taken no time at all.


It becomes a sort of routine after that, Mark slumping in half-asleep before work, or between hours of work if he hasn't slept at all, and Eduardo always smiling bright at him like he's the second coming, making Mark blush.

It's usually quiet in the bakery when Mark's around in the morning, and when he can't face going into the office without more caffeine in his system, he sits at one of the tables near the counter and listens to Eduardo moving around in the kitchen. He hums to himself while he stirs cake batter, or rolling out dough for ginger cookies, or chopping up blocks of chocolate, and Mark leans his head back against the chair, closes his eyes and thinks of lines of code looping out in front of him to the same tune. He catches himself humming them at work, sometimes, and catches Lauren raising an eyebrow at Chris when he passes, both of them looking in at him through the big glass wall in his office.

One morning, Eduardo is rolling round chocolate truffles in chocolate sprinkles, the next he's coaxing what look like individual pineapple upside-down cakes out of their little plastic moulds, the next he's spooning dulce de leche over plain, yellow cake, cupcakes. He looks up and catches Mark's eye, and tells him about his mother letting him help in the kitchen sometimes during hot, slow Brazilian summers, or his nanny teaching him dessert recipes once he'd finished his homework. He says their names, quindim, brigadeiro, slipping easily into the Portuguese, and Mark has to drag his eyes away from Eduardo's mouth shaping the words, his fingers slipping on the keys of his phone, checking his email in a nervous tic.

In return, Mark tells him about the trials and tribulations of sharing a suite with Dustin, and the time they drew a moustache on Chris when he fell asleep on the sofa and it turned out to be a really permanent marker and Chris had had to go to the student health centre to see if they could, like, bleach it off or something, and how Dustin learned all the cheats to Mario Kart faster than he learned to code when he needed to, and watches Eduardo lick frosting off his fingers, checking the taste. They fall into conversation and silence by turn, equally companionable, and Mark starts to resent the presence of other customers when Eduardo turns his attention full-beam onto them, and it's the first time Mark's felt like this, like he might want someone to want him rather than recognise what he can do.

Sometimes he watches Eduardo piping frosting onto cupcakes or decorating sugar cookies with coloured icing, watches his long fingers, the way he frowns to concentrate, licks his lips when there's a complicated pattern to ice. It is basically pornography, and Mark sometimes has to tear his eyes away and think about server statistics or what little he retained from his art history classes until his body stops embarrassing him and it's safe to stand up.

It turns out to be sort of easy, being around Eduardo, comfortable without Mark really having to make an effort, and he's the first person outside Mark's family that Mark can just talk to, because whenever Mark says something actually offensive, Eduardo just laughs, or pretends to tell him off, and Mark shivers all down his spine. It's just Mark's luck that when he finally finds someone he can be completely at ease around, he wants him so much that he just can't do it, can't unwind the way he thinks he could do if Eduardo would just stop sending him those little crooked smiles.

He jerks off one night in the shower, helplessly, thinking about big dark eyes and Eduardo on his knees, his mouth around Mark's cock, and then about Eduardo on his back, fingers gripping white and tight in Mark's sheets, wet mouth open, moaning broken Portuguese, and comes so hard he has to lean his forehead against the slick tile wall and try to catch his breath while his legs stop shaking.

He can't look Eduardo in the eye the next morning, but it's really, really worth it.


At some point, and despite Mark's best efforts, Dustin finds out that he's going to Eduardo's before work most days and doesn't so much insist on tagging along as he does just pop up outside the bakery doors when Mark turns up one morning.

"What?" Dustin says, all fake wide-eyed innocence, when Mark glares morningly at him. It's been a week or so of only catching a few hours sleep here and there, tweaking the profile update unrelentingly ready for making the change at the end of the week, and he is not quite conscious enough to make conversation yet. "I like the cookies, okay?"

Except, obviously, he has a gigantic ulterior motive, which manifests spectacularly clearly when Eduardo comes out from the kitchen, and Dustin all but trips over his own feet saying hello.

"You're real!" he says. "I mean, I knew you were real, but - you're real."

"I think you'll find rumours of my existence have been greatly exaggerated," says Eduardo, gamely, and grins at Mark, who is slumped in one of the chairs and pretending none of this is happening. It's too early for this shit. "Coffee, Mark?"

Mark nods as vigorously as he can at eight in the morning.

"Two shots or one?"

"Seven," says Mark, childishly. "Dustin's face is hurting my eyes."

"I am offended," says Dustin, who is obviously not. He turns back to Eduardo. "I'm also Dustin."

"I gathered," says Eduardo, still grinning. "Nice to meet you."

He does something fiddly with the coffee machine, and then there's a ping from the kitchen.

"Excuse me," he says. "That'll be the brownies."

He disappears back behind the curtain, and Dustin turns to Mark, actually agog, which is something to behold. Dustin has, like, a plasticine face. He makes the most ludicrous expressions of anyone Mark knows.

"Okay," he says. "I know why normal people come here, because eating the cake is like eating rainbows, but you are abnormal and shun deliciousness when it is dangled in a box in front of your face, so I knew that wasn't it - but now I totally get why you come here."

"For the quality of the clientele?"

Dustin pats him on the shoulder and folds himself energetically into the chair opposite. "One, you are a customer too, so you just insulted yourself, well done, and two, have you seen Eduardo? I mean. Dude. Seriously."

Mark opens his eyes and squints at him, unimpressed.

"Seriously," Dustin reiterates.

Mark closes his eyes again.

"Wait till I tell Chris that you've been consorting with a hot baker," Dustin continues, unabashed. "He'll be so jealous."

"Who'll be so jealous?" asks Eduardo, coming back out of the kitchen carrying a tray of brownies. Mark slumps further down in his chair and tries to think of ways that, if this were only a virtual reality, he could code a way for the earth to swallow him up, but is distracted halfway through by the silence coming from Dustin's side of the table.

He clicks his fingers in front of Dustin's face, but Dustin is fixed on the brownies the way he used to stare at Mario Kart when Chris was in the lead by split seconds, and shaving off a corner could get Dustin a win.

"Oh my god," says Dustin. "Is it too early for brownies? It's not too early for brownies, right? It can never be too early for brownies, right? Right, Mark? Right?"

"By all means, ingest more sugar, that will help," Mark grumbles, and hears Eduardo laugh from behind the counter.

"Here," says Eduardo, coming over with Mark's coffee. He squeezes Mark's shoulder when he sets the cup down on the table, standing just behind Mark's chair. Mark lets himself lean his cheek against Eduardo's long fingers just this once, because he's tired, and because Eduardo touched him first, so it must be okay.

Dustin is looking at him oddly across the table, and Mark is definitely too tired to care exactly what that expression is, but there's something more subtle than Dustin's usual grin going on. Whatever. Mark clasps his hand around the coffee cup and takes a grateful sip.

"Careful," Eduardo warns, like he does every morning and Mark never listens. He says, "It's hot," at exactly the same time as Mark burns his tongue and winces, and Mark feels him laugh.

"I think you should give Mark your number," says Dustin, decisively, and Mark chokes on his coffee. "He's almost out of red vines and he might, er, go into hypoglycemic shock or something and need emergency cake."

Mark can't look up at Eduardo or he doesn't know what he'll do. Something inadvisable, probably. It's not fair that Eduardo should look so put-together so early in the morning. Mark needs caffeine and his hands on a keyboard in order to wake up properly, and he is definitely not awake enough for Dustin to be doing this, and also Eduardo's hand is still on Mark's shoulder, and, just, what the hell.

Dustin kicks Mark under the table, and winks. "Don't say I never do you any favours."

Mark turns exceptionally, unpreventably, red, but Eduardo just laughs and digs a pen out from his shirt pocket, scribbling something down on a napkin and handing it to Mark.

"In case of red vine withdrawal emergencies," he says. "I am very happy to be a back-up supply of refined sugar."

Mark can actually see Dustin physically bite back some horrifying comment along the lines of Mark, he could be your sugar daddy! for which he will be forever grateful.

"I'll keep that in mind," Mark says, folding the napkin into the pocket of his jeans. Eduardo gives him this little soft smile. Mark wants to kiss him so fucking much he doesn't know what to do about it, so he just fidgets and eventually Eduardo turns back to Dustin, and Mark dips his fingers just inside his pocket, touches the top of the napkin like it's going to disappear.

On the way to work, Dustin keeps up a steady stream of hyperbole about Eduardo's face and Eduardo's eyes and Eduardo's smile. Just before they go inside, Mark says, "Jesus, Dustin, if you like the guy so much, just ask him out already."

"Don't be jealous, Marky, it's not attractive."

"Fuck off," Mark says, without any real heat to it.

Dustin stops walking and catches hold of Mark's arm. Mark turns to him, surprised. Despite Dustin being Dustin, an emotional octopus in human form, he doesn't tend to touch Mark as often as he does everyone else.

"Dude," Dustin says, and he's suddenly uncharacteristically serious. "Seriously though, I mean - he's clearly - you're clearly - if you asked him - "

Mark pulls his arm away and changes the subject before Dustin can get a full sentence out. "I am never letting you have any sugar ever again," he says. "I am going to tell Chris you had brownies for breakfast."

Dustin gasps, switching moods to match Mark instantly, turning a circle on his heel with his hands clasped over his heart, hamming it up for all he's worth. "Et tu, Brutus," he cries. "What happened to our sugary morning love?"

"Your face happened," Mark says, and Dustin pretends to pout.

Later, Mark texts Eduardo, sorry about dustin, he's special.

Mark? comes the reply, like there's been a whole stream of people and their irrepressibly cheerful friends called Dustin traipsing through Eduardo's that morning, and: he's nice. you have nice friends. they suit you :)

Mark puts his phone in his pocket and tries not to smile too stupidly down at his keyboard.


The update is scheduled for Friday and Mark barely sleeps, paranoid the way he is every time they make a change, that he's missing something, that something is wrong. He checks and rechecks his code, writes and rewrites it, barely sleeping. Chris leaves him to it. Mark knows he was worse when he was younger and Facebook younger still, but he can't stop it, eyes growing gritty from the laptop light, snapping at his assistant, which is going to come back to haunt him when this is done, because Lauren's not the shy and retiring type, but he isn't thinking about that now. He's missing something, he knows he is. He just - he can't see it.

Friday rolls around, and Mark is exhausted, dropping into Eduardo's on auto-pilot rather than purposeful thought after two hours fitful sleep at home, waking in a sweat, convinced he's missed the update going live. He shuffles down in his chair, leans his head back, closes his eyes and listens to the sound of the coffee machine and Eduardo stacking the display case, the hissing of steam and the clatter of plates.

He jerks abruptly awake some time later to Eduardo's hand on his shoulder, and doesn't know what day it is or how long he's been out.

"What," he says, heart pounding in his ears, and then he rubs his eyes and actually wakes up a bit more, takes in his surroundings. "What's the time?"

"Nine," Eduardo says, and Mark has been asleep for an hour, fuck. He's prickling with embarrassment and the remnants of the adrenaline, knows he sleeps open-mouthed and unguarded, and apparently now he sleeps in public, and if his breath smells like it tastes then he really doesn't want to know. Eduardo's fingers tighten slightly around Mark's shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"I'm late," snaps Mark, getting to his feet, but he genuinely hasn't slept properly for going on three days and he's dizzy, and he grabs the back of his chair. Eduardo grabs his elbow to steady him, and Mark lets him until his head has cleared enough that he can pull away.

Eduardo watches him pack away his laptop. "Mark," he says, and he sounds sort of worried, which is ridiculous, because why would he be worried about Mark? "Mark, sit down, okay, when was the last time you ate?"

"I'm too late to eat," Mark says, shortly, shoving his laptop into his bag. "You shouldn't have let me sleep, I need to - " He stops, wide-eyed, because Eduardo has caught hold of his hand. Mark has poor circulation; Eduardo's hands are warm enough that it makes Mark notices how cold he was before.

"Just," says Eduardo, and he's giving Mark this look Mark doesn't understand, "just, wait a second, okay?"

Eduardo still has hold of Mark's hand, and Mark nods, dumbly, curling his fingers against Eduardo's palm.

Eduardo nods back, pleased, and disappears into the kitchen at the back. Mark runs his thumb over the backs of his fingers where his skin is still warm from Eduardo's touch. He's tired.

Eduardo reappears with a brown paper lunch bag, like he's about to send Mark off to school. Mark makes a face that hopefully expresses this sentiment, but Eduardo just turns him round and unzips his backpack, and puts the bag in there. He pats Mark's shoulders.

"There," he says. "Now you won't starve."

"I wouldn't have starved," says Mark, disconcerted.

Eduardo says fondly, "Sugar is not a food group, Mark."

"Says the guy who runs a bakery."

"Weren't you late for something?" Eduardo says, but he's smiling.

Mark says, "Yes, shit," and heads to the office at pace. Chris is scowling when he arrives, and shepherds him into the meeting as soon as he steps off the elevator, and so it's another couple of hours before Mark gets back to his office. His stomach actually growls.

Chris says, "Have you eaten anything today?" all sort of resigned like he's expecting Mark to say no.

"No," Mark says, and Chris makes a face, and then Mark remembers, "but I've got something, so."

Chris looks like he doesn't know what to do with that information. "You... brought food?"

Mark says, slightly annoyed, "Yes, Christopher, I'm not a child."

He brings the brown bag out of his backpack and reaches inside. It's a tuna salad sandwich.

Mark really likes tuna.

He sort of stares at it for a moment, and Chris sort of stares at it, and then Dustin shoves his head round the door, displaying his alarming tendency to know exactly when Mark doesn't want him around and then show up anyway. "I smell gossip!" He pauses, and then goes, "Actually, I smell fish. Mark, have you sprouted gills? Do we need to work on finding waterproof laptops?"

"We need to work on finding Dustin-proof doors," Mark mutters.

"I know you don't mean that," Dustin says.

Chris says, "I mean it."

Dustin catches sight of the sandwich in Mark's hands. "That's not from the cafeteria," he says, frowning, because leave it to Dustin to be able to spot a sandwich intruder from ten paces away, and then his face lights up. "Is that from Eduardo?"

"No," Mark lies, going red.

Dustin looks highly delighted. "He made you lunch?"

"No," Mark insists. "He sort of just gave me it."

Chris says, "He just gave you it?"

"Yes," Mark says. It's slowly occurring to him that this is actually really weird. Like, Eduardo runs a bakery, not a sandwich shop, so why does he randomly have sandwiches lying around in to-go bags in his kitchen?

He gets out his phone and texts, frowning, was that your lunch?

Was what my lunch? is the reply.

The tuna sandwich, Mark sends, rolling his eyes as if Eduardo can see him. What else would I be talking about?

I can make another one, Eduardo replies. You can't be trusted in a kitchen.

There's a cafeteria here. I wouldn't waste away or anything.

Right, sends Eduardo, and Mark can feel the sarcasm through the screen, which is pretty impressive.

He looks up, suddenly aware that Dustin is staring at him like he's sprouted wings or dispensing glitter or something.


"Were you just texting Eduardo?"

Mark can't be bothered to lie this time. Talking to Dustin is like talking to a rollercoaster: it's just going to barrel on regardless, so you might as well get on board. "Yes."

"I knew it." Dustin's voice has gone all funny and strangled. "Your face went all weird."

"My face is not weird."

"Your face is very weird, Mark, my friend, but you went all - all - " Dustin looks to Chris for help. Chris will not help, Mark is sure. This can all stop happening and he can eat his fucking sandwich in peace.

"Gentle," says Chris, and he sounds funny too, and Mark feels endlessly betrayed. "You looked gentle."

Mark isn't sure if Dustin could look any happier if he tried.


The update goes live at five Friday evening, and Mark stays later than even he's used to, constantly refreshing the page, drumming his fingers against his keyboard when he's not actively typing. Nothing goes wrong. Nothing crashes. It goes off without a hitch, but Mark is so sure there's something looming that he can't make himself go home. Chris comes in around one in the morning, bleary-eyed, and tells him he's worrying about nothing, and Mark says, "If you're so sure, why are you still here?" and Chris gives him a look like he's missing the blatantly obvious, and sighs, and gets him another Red Bull.

If Red Bull gives you wings, Mark should be in the fucking stratosphere by now.

But the weekend passes, and everything's fine, and there's only the usual rumblings of dissent that happen when Mark changes something around and no actual mutiny, and by Sunday night statuses are starting to say things like this is so much better!! and don't know how i lived without this :DD and Mark's so tired and so relieved that when he goes home, he sleeps through till Monday afternoon.

When he swings by Eduardo's on his way to work, out of habit, he feels like a different person than the one he was last week, like something's been lifted clean away.

"Hello," says Eduardo, when Mark walks up to the counter. "I don't normally see you at this time of day."

"I know," says Mark, and there's a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, like the thing that's lifted took his reserve with it, because the update was a fucking success and Eduardo is really, really handsome. "There's an afternoon, who knew?"

"Stop the presses," says Eduardo. He starts prepping Mark's coffee without Mark even having to ask, turning over his shoulder to offer Mark a bright-eyed smile. "So, the update went well?"

"Nothing blew up," says Mark, and Eduardo gives him this look like you are the least modest person I have ever met, stop wasting my time with this pretence, and Mark lets himself grin like he wants to, really fucking pleased, and says, "Yeah, it went really, really well."

Eduardo hands him his drink. "I'd say well done, but it seems unnecessary."

"Just because I can congratulate myself doesn't mean you shouldn't do it as well."

"I was going to say it seemed unnecessary because I knew it would go well," Eduardo says, and he's gone slightly, shyly, pink. "But congratulations anyway."

"Thanks," says Mark, completely insincerely, to make Eduardo laugh, but his chest feels sort of warm, idiotically, and he bites his lip a little, turning his coffee cup round to have something to do with his hands. He's just happy, here with Eduardo, and his site is working, and he's not dragging with exhaustion, and he just stops, and sort of gets out of his own way, and lets it in.

"Do you want to come for a drink tonight?" says Eduardo, sort of out of the blue, and Mark isn't actually sure he's heard him right for a minute, too caught up in his own head. "I mean, you're probably busy, but - "

"Yes," Mark says, quickly, before Eduardo can take it back, "yes, yeah."


Mark's heart is beating too fast, and he's not sure what Eduardo is actually asking, not quite capable of separating out his hope from the question, but: "Yeah."

Eduardo is beaming at him. It makes Mark feel stupid, and he thinks of Chris saying you looked gentle. He shoves his hands in his pockets and doesn't let himself look at the colour creeping in further over Eduardo's cheeks.


(continued here)
Tags: fandoms that ruin your life, fic: tsn, film: the social network, my fic, what is this and what am i
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