i'm just a painter (moogle62) wrote,
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fic: tsn: more than the recommended amount; r, mark/eduardo (1/2)

WE ARE ALL GOING TO PRETEND THAT MY FIRST ENTRY OF THE NEW YEAR IS NOT TECHNICALLY A LATE FIC, OKAY? OKAY.

title: more than the recommended amount
fandom: the social network
pairing: mark/eduardo
rating: r
word count: ~12,700
disclaimer: these are a) not based on the real people but their fictional counterparts from the 2010 film, and b) not my characters either. TSN YOUR DISCLAIMERS ARE SO CONVOLUTED.
a/n: a tsnsecretsanta fic for goldendoods! :D I hope this is okay for you! shdgfsjh also, as ever, all the thanks in the known universe for laliandra, who read this over despite me sending it THE DAY BEFORE NEW YEAR'S EVE... and told me to add more feelings. I also couldn't have got this done without antistar_e bearing all my ridiculous emails. SO MANY ♥ YOU GUYS DON'T EVEN KNOW. sdjhgfshjgf. That aside, this was actually so much fun to write! HAPPY HOLIDAYS ONE AND ALL. I have this fic saved in two different word docs on my computer, one of which is called "TELL HIM THOUUUUUUUGH" and the other "WARDO JUST HAS A LOT OF FEELINGS OKAY", which basically sum up this fic. *pokerface*
summary: in which Dustin gets impatient, Mark gets a cold, and Eduardo gets ALL THE FEELINGS IN THE WORLD.






"Tell him!"

"No."

"But tell him."

"No!"

"Wardo," Dustin whines, pulling the most ridiculous hang-dog face. "You have to tell him. It's Christmas."

Eduardo raises an eyebrow. "You're Jewish."

"I am infused with the spirit of all holidays," Dustin informs him. "I am like the ghost of awesome past, present and future, only less Dickensian. Also, less dead."

"Not much less alarming though," Eduardo says.

"Your words mean nothing to me, Pining Wardo," Dustin says. "All I hear when you speak is pine pine pine, does Mark love me? Pine pine pine. It is tragic. It is like losing a sock in the laundry and wondering if the other one is lonely."

Eduardo's eyebrow goes up higher. If this goes on much longer, he's going to get a headache from sheer incredulity. "So you're saying I am a lost sock? That's not exactly flattering."

Dustin rolls his eyes, like, this is ridiculous. Eduardo thinks Dustin accusing anyone else of being ridiculous is ridiculous. Ridiculous doesn't sound like a word any more, which seems appropriate.

"I'm also saying it's nearly winter break." Dustin throws his arms out wide, which is apparently supposed to mean something. Eduardo is only fully versed in the Mark Zuckerberg school of personal quirks, and has trouble with other people's vagaries sometimes. Dustin goes on. "When we come back, it'll be the new year, and this cannot continue for another year, Wardo, it just cannot. Je refuse! Je refuse in Portuguese!"

"Eu recuso," Eduardo tells him, absent-mindedly, and then: "What do you mean, this can't continue? What can't continue?"

"The pining," Dustin says, stressing every syllable. "It has become extensive. Enough now! I demand resolution. Tell him! Tell him right now or so help me god I will booby-trap the whole freaking campus with mistletoe and make you tell him."

Dustin pauses, and grins to himself.

"Booby-trap?" Eduardo guesses. Some of Dustin's vagaries are... less than vague.

"It's just funny!" Dustin defends. "Just because the object of your affections doesn't have them doesn't mean you can't appreciate some breast-centred humour."

"You are not allowed to talk to anyone ever again," Eduardo tells him. "Including me. Go away."

Dustin folds his arms. "I am staying right here until you say you're going to tell Mark about your squishy lovelorn feelings."

Something swoops in Eduardo's stomach, like he's missed a step at the bottom of a staircase. It's the way he feels every time he thinks about this, telling Mark how he feels. He's under no illusions, he's more than aware he's not exactly emotionally closed-off, but there's a difference between knowing the way you look at someone is probably the world's biggest feelings flare and actually telling them.

Plus, this way, Eduardo won't have to hear Mark turn him down. He just doesn't know what he'd do with himself, then. It hurts even to think about it, turns him shaky and sick like being in shock. Even here in his own dorm room with Dustin swinging his legs off the end of the bed like he's three years old, here, where any way Mark might react is still only a hypothetical, the idea of telling Mark makes Eduardo go clammy with fear.

So: "You're in for a long wait," Eduardo warns Dustin. "It's is just not going to happen."

Dustin settles back against the wall. Eduardo eyes him, waiting for him to crack.

Dustin stubbornly stays silent.

Everyone always forgets just how stubborn Dustin is, mostly because he hides it underneath a haphazard layer of insanity, but Dustin actually has a surprisingly steely core when it comes to holding out for the things he wants. There are reasons Dustin and Mark are friends, Eduardo always thinks, and this disturbing tenacity is one of them.

With no small amount of apprehension, Eduardo gives up first.

"But I can't tell him," Eduardo says, ignoring the plaintive note in his voice just to preserve a thin shred of self-respect. Plaintive is better than terrified, at least. "I can't tell him, because what if he -- what if it -- what -- I can't." He shivers, and stops talking. He can't tell Mark.

"None of those words made a sentence, Wardo," Dustin chides. He's either unaware of or ignoring how even skirting the idea that much is making Eduardo restless, jumpy like he might get to his feet and run until his muscles drop him down to sidewalk and even then not feel at ease. "And, dude," Dustin goes on. "We can all see you looking at him. There is no invisible barrier that stops us seeing your terrifying huge-eyed love. Just freaking tell him before you explode love goop all over the dorm."

Eduardo wrinkles his nose, momentarily unpleasantly distracted by that mental image.

"Metaphorical love goop, dude," Dustin clarifies. "Save that for Mark's room, okay? There're some stains our couch can live without."

"Not that you'd know it," Eduardo says, petulantly. He relaxes a little. This, he can do.

"Whatever," Dustin says, leaning out of Eduardo's personal space. "Tell him. The season demands it."

Eduardo is beginning to think that the season demands that someone follow Dustin everywhere he goes and throw snowballs at him but he keeps that thought to himself. It can sit next to all the other thoughts he's not sharing with people.

Except -- and this is what really gets Eduardo, dizzies him whenever it crosses his mind -- maybe he wants to. Tell Mark, that is. Way, way at the back of all the nerves and over-thinking and late-night worries, Eduardo can't help but think it might be just exactly what he wants.

Eduardo gambled hundreds of thousands of dollars on oil shares last summer but this feels like a much bigger risk.

Still. If Mark is the stakes in this game, Eduardo thinks he could show his hand.

Dustin seems to sense weakness. "But Eduardo," he says, leaning back in close to Eduardo's face while Eduardo tries to lean very far away, "think about it. What if Marky Mark feels the same? What if you'll never know unless you make the first move?" He jabs a finger into Eduardo's chest. "Tell him, you great big sap," he insists, "and profit!"

Eduardo springs to his feet. He can't -- he can't quite think it, even as hard as Dustin is insisting he should, feels it knick too close to the bone. Unable to keep still, he paces the length of his room, window to door and back. Dustin, grinning like a gossip at court, leans back against the wall and watches him.

Discussing this feels like tempting fate, like now if Eduardo screws up his nerve then Mark is bound to hate him anyway because the universe is just fucking like that. Eduardo presses his hand over his mouth, turns on his heel, and paces faster.

"So, what you're saying is," Eduardo finally attempts, running an unsteady hand through his hair, coming to a halt on his eighth loop of the room, "that you think it might -- go well?"

He's actually holding his breath. Jesus Christ, the things Mark does to him and he's not even in the fucking room.

"Yes," Dustin hisses, with a terrifying degree of fervour. "And there's no think about it. Just because he's not a bundle of limbs and feelings like you doesn't mean he's not spending as much of his time pining. You're like a pine tree and Mark is like a pine box. Just because you can't see him shedding pine needles everywhere doesn't mean he's not - um - pining." He shakes his head. "Possibly that got away from me a little bit there, but my point still stands!"

Eduardo laughs, albeit shakily. "And what point would that be?"

Dustin makes an exasperated noise in the back of his throat. "Put your faces on each other! Wardo, this is not difficult."

Eduardo has imagined kissing Mark so many times that to hear it thrown at him like that, like it would be that easy, is weirdly disconcerting, like hearing a favourite song on the radio and realising everyone else can hear it too. He's thought about leaning down to kiss Mark when he stops by with smuggled-out cafeteria food because Mark won't stop working, about carding his fingers through Mark's hair just to see how it feels, about cupping Mark's jaw in his hand and learning the way it fits.

He's considered all the ways he might kiss Mark, but that is definitely not where those thoughts stop.

Eduardo abruptly feels himself turn very, very red, which is spectacularly inconvenient because Dustin jumps at the first sign of weakness and just never ever lets it go. He's kind of like a really exuberant puppy and other people's secret weaknesses are his tasty kibble.

He also has an incredibly infectious penchant for terrible similes. It's an ongoing saga in Eduardo's life. He needs to work on his resistance to that before it snowballs into a penchant for terrible metaphors and before Eduardo starts thinking about everything in terms of differently sized fish, or something equally inane.

Luckily, or not so luckily, he's saved from his piscine-obsessing fate for now by Dustin grabbing his hand hard enough to hurt, exuberantly victorious.

"See!" Dustin exclaims. "I am taking this manly blushing to mean that you agree completely and are on your way out the door to let Mark impugn your delicate virtue."

Eduardo wrenches his hands free and sits back down, hard. "No one is impugning my virtue," he says, trying very hard not to think about Mark doing exactly that in various and increasingly explicit ways. "And why is it my virtue we're worrying about?"

"Hair products, for one," says Dustin, who once found a tub of Chris's hair-gel in the Kirkland bathroom and then didn't let up about it for a full month. "And also your face."

"My face?" Eduardo resists the urge to run to his mirror. "What about my face?"

Dustin shrugs. "Your mouth looks like that," he says. "I mean, I'm just saying. It's very expressive."

Eduardo is weirdly pleased. "Expressive," he repeats, suddenly really conscious of how his mouth shapes his words. "Thank you very much."

Dustin inclines his head like it's nothing. "You're welcome. Now take your pretty mouth and put it on Mark."

Eduardo is pretty sure this is what a heart attack feels like. "Dustin!"

"What?" Dustin sounds exasperated, and leaps to his feet. "Wardo, this is a no risk venture. The two of you are literally just torturing yourselves for no reason. For the love of god, you have to do something about this shit."

Dustin has more than a touch of the crazy-eyes by the time he stops talking. Eduardo is quite glad when Dustin's phone buzzes and breaks the tension. Dustin slips his phone out of his pocket, glances at the screen.

"Okay," Dustin says, at a much lower volume. "I am being summoned by Overlord Hughes." Eduardo almost feels faint with relief that they can stop talking about this. "But!" Dustin continues, brandishing a finger at Eduardo. "Don't think this is over, Saverin." He narrows his eyes. "I am watching you."

"How will you be watching me when you're not here?" Eduardo says.

"You're never actually in this dorm," Dustin points out. "You're always in our dorm, where Mark is. It makes spying so much easier."

Eduardo opens his mouth to argue, but closes it again. Dustin has a point.

"I know I'm right," Dustin says, watching Eduardo's face. "So boo-ya."

"Boo-ya does not mean you've won," Eduardo tells him.

"You, my poor besotted Brazilian snowflake," says Dustin, shrugging on his coat, "have been misinformed."


//

As easy as Dustin makes it sound -- just tell him! -- Eduardo really doesn't think the prospect of letting Mark know he's in love with him is anything other than paralysingly terrifying. No matter how certain Dustin seemed, what if Mark doesn't feel the same way? What if Mark really wouldn't want anything more to do with him? What if -- and Eduardo is aware he's spinning down into worst case scenarios faster than fall leaves turn in the wind -- it changes everything, and Eduardo suddenly has no friends, fails all his classes and has to transfer colleges?

In the middle of the night, staring wide-eyed and panicked at his bedroom ceiling, even the most stupidly improbable outcome seems likely to Eduardo.

He's been in love with Mark for so long, almost a full year, that actually doing something about it seems impossible and unnecessary. He's kept it to himself through several rounds of finals-related emotional stress, a whole summer vacation apart and the beginning and end of Mark dating Erica Albright. It feels anathematic to let on now. He's used to wanting and not having. He's used to watching Mark work. He's used to throwing his arm around Mark's shoulders if they bump into each other between classes, or studying at opposite ends of Mark's bed, bumping ankles where they meet in the middle of the mattress. He's used to not saying a word about how much he wants to grab Mark by the wrist, dig his fingers in just too hard and keep him.

People say Eduardo's the nice one in this friendship group, the normal one.

Eduardo has more in common with Mark than those people think.

Eduardo actually wants a whole host of things that aren't okay to say upfront. He wants to duck down between Mark's legs when he's coding and blow him till Mark can't type at all; he wants to get his hands in Mark's hair and pull him in close, just this side of too hard. He wants to get Mark undone and spread out on his bed, to get Mark to beg him, to lose that last shred of pride and just let Eduardo know he wants him too.

Really, though, Eduardo just wants Mark, has a gut-deep pull towards this scrawny, mop-headed, brilliant boy who wandered into his life at an AEPi party and insulted Eduardo's hair, major and intellect in the first minute they met. It's been over a year, and Eduardo's still no more decided what he should do about it.

Sometimes, Mark catches Eduardo's eye, gives him the wry end of a smile just for him when someone has said something unforgivably idiotic, and it sinks down slow into Eduardo's bones. It's an ugly sort of hope, uncoiling in unbidden memories whenever Eduardo's near to giving up, but there it is. That look in Mark's eyes, the way he picks Eduardo, elevates him up to where Mark sees himself -- it's enough for a maybe.



He's always thought, if something were to happen, it would be Mark who would initiate it -- but now, lying here at three in the morning and churning this all over again, Eduardo thinks, if he holds on hard to that one insidious little maybe, he can do this.

Thinking all of this through all over again explains why he is entirely awake and more than a little strung out when his phone buzzes at three in the morning.

dude how do you tell if a dude has a fever? Dustin has sent, which does seem slightly like cause for concern.

hypothetically? Eduardo sends back, with the cautious optimism that seems appropriate at such confusing hours of the night.

nooooooooooot as such, Dustin replies, almost immediately. its a lot more Mark-o-thetically :S

Eduardo almost trips over his own legs trying to get out of bed.

//

Eduardo has had a key to Kirkland since around the beginning of term. He's never asked where it came from, because he has a sneaking suspicion he doesn't want to know. Dustin's mildly disturbing continuous mutter of deniability, deniability, precious, precious deniability was another contributing factor to Eduardo's decision never to look further into that, but either way, the key has come in handy more than once, and never more so than now. It means he doesn't have to wait for someone to come down and let him in, and if he takes the stairs two at a time, well, then, no one is around to see, which is probably for the best.

"Dustin?" he calls, pushing open the door.

Dustin appears from out of Mark's room, looking a little harried. Eduardo's worry levels go from three in the morning anxiety to defcon five! in the time it takes Dustin to cross the room.

"He's fine!" Dustin says, immediately, which probably says something about how Eduardo's face looks right now. "Just -- we can't get him to stop coding, and I mean, we don't know when he last slept? Like, at all?"

Eduardo rubs a hand over his face and takes a breath. "You did make the situation sound -- " he tries to find the words, "a little more serious."

"No, I didn't," Dustin says. "You just assumed. Your Mark sensors tingled. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons you should let him tingle your sensors, if you know what I mean."

"I really wish I didn't know what you meant," Eduardo says. He runs a hand through his hair and tries to feel more awake. "Okay. How long has he been sick?"

Dustin shrugs. "Who knows," he says. "It's Mark. He's not exactly forthcoming about these things."

Eduardo wills himself calm. "What exactly is wrong with him?"

"I don't know for sure," Dustin says, but he looks suddenly shifty.

Eduardo narrows his eyes. "What is it?"

"There's a chance," Dustin begins, looking like he's thinking very hard about how to phrase what's he's about to say, "um, that -- well, he's had some cough syrup. On top of whatever it is he has. So. That probably hasn't helped that much."

Eduardo takes a step away so he can look Dustin full in the eye. "When you say some cough syrup," he asks, "how much do you actually mean?"

"Remember winter finals last year?"

"Yes," Eduardo says, warily. Yes, he does remember. Vividly.

Dustin claps him on the back. "More than that," he says, far more cheerfully than Eduardo feels the situation warrants. "Over to you!"

//

Eduardo pushes open Mark's door to find Mark hunched over his laptop, and Chris, who looks more relieved to see Eduardo than is really reassuring, leaning over the back of Mark's chair. Mark doesn't look up when Eduardo steps into the room, but Eduardo can't tell if he's wired in, too sick to notice, or just plain ignoring him.

"Wardo," Chris says, drawing Eduardo's attention away from the unhealthy flush on Mark's cheeks. "Please believe me when I tell you just how good it is to see you."

Nothing so far has helped lessen Eduardo's anxiety. "Is he okay?" he blurts, and jams his hands in his pants pockets, trying to keep himself steady.

It's stupid, the way Mark can get under his skin like this. It's probably just a cold, nothing worse than the rest of the undergrads coughing their way through Eduardo's lectures have had this term, but seeing Mark like this is making it hard for Eduardo to stay calm.

"He'll be fine," Chris says, which is not exactly what Eduardo asked but does go some way to easing the ball of irrational panic in his chest. "We just can't get him to stop coding and go the fuck to sleep." He directs the last bit at Mark, but Mark ignores him completely.

Something eases in Eduardo's chest. If Chris is still making jibes at Mark, there can't be anything seriously wrong. Eduardo still feels unsteady, nerve-raw around the edges, but it's ebbing out into practical concern the longer he stands here. Chris straightens up, comes over to him.

"Sorry," Chris says. "I should have texted you. Dustin -- " he waves a hand in the air like he's struggling for a description, " ... is the wrong person to send news."

"That was supposed to be news?" Eduardo says, managing an incredulous grin, and Chris raises an eyebrow. On anyone else, this would say I know, right? but Chris is Chris Hughes, and it actually means welcome to my life.

Eduardo takes the opportunity to cast his eyes about the room. He takes in the perpetually unmade bed, the half-empty bottle of cough syrup on the floor by Chris's feet, the dark circles under Chris's eyes like he hasn't slept yet, but he stops on the way Mark's hands are trembling on his keyboard, keyed up past jittery and into alarming. Mark has always had a low threshold for medication of any kind. Half a bottle of cough syrup for Mark knocks him for as much of a loop as codeine does Eduardo.

When Eduardo drags his gaze away from Mark again, Chris is giving him this soft, understanding smile. Eduardo goes instantly self-conscious.

"What?" Eduardo asks.

"Nothing, Wardo," Chris says, warmly, and pats Eduardo on the shoulder. "Just, get him to sleep, would you?"

Eduardo nods. "Sure," he says. "And -- thanks. For letting me know. Even if it was via Dustin."

"What?" Chris asks, opening the door. "You think we'd do anything else?"

He grins at Eduardo, a flash of camaraderie, and leaves. Eduardo has amazing friends.

Now that he knows what he's working with -- probably a virus, definitely a Mark bowled out by cough medicine -- it's easier for Eduardo to know what to do. He takes a breath.

"Hey, Mark," he says. He keeps his voice even, trying to sound the way he would on any other day. Mark doesn't do well when he thinks he's being patronized, even if he's sick.

Mark still doesn't look up from the laptop. At least now Eduardo can be pretty certain Mark's not wired in -- there's a line of fever-sweat staining through the back of his hoodie and not even Mark can wire in with a temperature like that -- so he's just choosing to ignore everything around him. Petulant Mark is much easier to handle than a Mark in denial, so that's a plus for the evening.

He steps forward, turns Mark's chair to face him, away from the laptop.

Mark takes a second to focus on him -- Eduardo tries hard not to look as worried as he feels -- but when he does, he frowns. "Wardo," he says, snappish. "I'm busy."

"You're sick," Eduardo corrects. He puts the back of his hand to Mark's sweaty forehead, keeps it there even as Mark tries to wriggle away. "God, Mark, you're burning up."

"I'm busy," Mark repeats, dismissively, and shrugs away from Eduardo, turning back to his computer.

Eduardo bites down on the screaming instinct to just smash the stupid thing and scans the lines of code on the screen. He's no computer guy, can't code the way Mark or Dustin can, but he understands enough to spot the most obvious mistakes, and Mark has made some obvious mistakes.

Mark is working on theFacebook, and he's sick enough that he hasn't noticed he's getting things wrong.

Eduardo swallows down hard, and is abruptly done fucking around with this.

He reaches out and closes Mark's laptop lid.

Mark spins back round to face him instantly. "What the fuck, Wardo?"

"You're not coding right," Eduardo says. He drops down to his haunches, looking up at Mark from between his legs. Mark flushes all across his cheekbones, noticeable even through the fever. Eduardo very determinedly does not react to that at all. Instead, he takes hold of Mark's hands in his, gets Mark to look him in the eye. "Mark. Please. You can't code." He bites his lip, tries another approach. "You'll only have to re-do it. You don't want to mess up theFacebook right at the beginning, right?"

Mark narrows his eyes, stung. Eduardo silently awards himself a point. It figures Mark will only react to Eduardo going after his work, not his health.

"I'm fine, Wardo," Mark insists, against all logic. "I'm coding fine. it's just a cold."

"Yeah?" Eduardo reaches for the half empty bottle of cough syrup by his feet. The damning evidence! "This, to me, does not seem like just a cold."

Mark's shoulders lift, defensive. Eduardo gives himself another point. Going rounds with Mark is so much easier when his guards are pharmaceutically impaired. "It was too loud, okay?" Mark sounds hoarse, but behind that, he sounds grudging. "It was interrupting me."

"What was?" Eduardo asks. If he just pushes Mark a little further, he thinks he can probably get him to go to sleep without much more work.

"Coughing," Mark snaps, like this should be obvious. It is obvious; Eduardo just wants to make him say it. Eduardo Saverin, button-pusher extraordinaire. He's really, genuinely not the nice one.

"You were coughing so much it was interrupting you and you don't think you should get some rest?" Eduardo's voice rises entirely without his say-so. "Mark, oh my god."

"Soup," Mark declares, in a complete non-sequitur.

Ah, cough syrup, Eduardo thinks. Our old, lucidity-destroying friend.

"Soup?" he queries.

Mark starts getting to his feet but Eduardo keeps him in the chair with a hand on his shoulder. Mark frowns but Eduardo isn't swayed at all. "I want some soup," Mark says, plaintive, blinking up at Eduardo with suddenly tired eyes. "Do we have any?"

His eyes are bright, but Eduardo doesn't know if that's the fever or if Mark's just high. The last time Mark had this much cough medicine, he couldn't hold a train of thought longer than a few minutes, and ate nothing but Cheetos for three days straight. Eduardo isn't entirely surprised that he can't carry on a conversation, but the soup certainly makes a healthy change.

"I can go check," Eduardo tells him. "But you have to get into bed."

The colour on Mark's cheeks deepens again. Eduardo feels himself flush in return.

This is ridiculous. Eduardo is too old to be blushing like a schoolgirl just at the mention of a bed. He's slept with Mark in that bed, curled up around each other when Eduardo's been too exhausted or too drunk to drag himself back across campus to his room, or when they've been studying on opposite ends of the mattress and woken up in a pile of limbs, gravitated together in sleep. They've never talked about it, though, and maybe that's why Eduardo still pinks at the thought, goes hot when he puts two and two together. Mark plus bed is still not something Eduardo can really cope with all that well.

"Or!" Eduardo goes, struggling to keep his voice at a non-ridiculous pitch. "Just -- sit down, okay, Mark? No coding. I'll go look if there's soup."

Slightly to Eduardo's surprise, there is some soup in one of the little cupboards near the sink. It’s nothing fancy, the powdered, just-add-water kind, but they've got a kettle and a bowl that Eduardo washes twice before using, and Eduardo is back in Mark's room with hot tomato soup in under ten minutes.

Less to Eduardo's surprise, Mark is back on his laptop.

"Mark." Eduardo sets the soup bowl down on the desk and snatches up Mark's laptop. Mark looks straight up at him, betrayed.

"Give it back, Wardo," he says, reaching for his computer, but his voice is even hoarser than it was when he last spoke and Eduardo is not feeling disposed to be indulgent.

That's new.

"Eat your soup, Mark," he says, instead.

Mark eyes him suspiciously, like he's forgotten he ever asked for soup, or maybe like the idea of eating is strange and unfamiliar to him. Eduardo sighs. He puts the laptop down on the desk just out of Mark's reach and nudges the soup towards him.

Mark just looks at him, mouth set. Eduardo doesn't know whether it's the cold or the meds that are making Mark this childish. Knowing Eduardo's luck, it's probably a horrifying alliance between the two.

"Mark." Eduardo folds his arms, stares Mark down. "Soup. Don't make me feed you."

Mark eyes him, clearly weighing up how serious Eduardo is. It’s nearing four in the morning, Eduardo's exhausted and Mark has fever-sweat stains on the back of his clothes. Yeah, Eduardo's pretty damn serious.

Mark picks up the spoon. Eduardo stays where he is, leaning back against Mark's desk, until Mark has finished the whole bowlful.

"Good," Eduardo says, and takes the bowl back. "Now go to bed."

"I'm fine," Mark insists but he stumbles over to his bed anyway, drops down hard on top of the covers.

"You're such a liar," Eduardo watches him, a sudden, awful rush of fondness welling up inside him. Tell him! his inner Dustin screeches, which doesn't help in the slightest.

"I love you," Mark says, as if he's read Eduardo's mind, and Eduardo almost drops the soup bowl. He sets it back on the desk with unsteady hands, stares at Mark, wide-eyed.

Obviously Eduardo is sick too, because that was clearly a hallucination.

"What?" he asks, which is a feat in itself. He feels winded, like Mark had turned around and punched him in the chest instead of telling Eduardo he loves him, oh god, Mark said he loves him. Eduardo's heart feels like it's suddenly beating double-time.

"What?" Mark repeats back, petulant and tired, drooping against the wall. "What are you doing over there, Wardo?"

"What do you mean, what am I doing over here?" Something in Eduardo's brain has just given up and died, resigned to replaying I love you over and over again without a break. Questions seem the safest bet, if Eduardo has to say anything at all, and Mark's out of it enough that he probably won't mind.

There. That helps. Mark is still out of it, loopy from cough meds and feverish from his cold. Eduardo focuses on that as hard as he can and drags his attention back to getting Mark well. In the back of his mind, he's very aware that he's not going to able to ignore all his other feelings forever -- Eduardo has never been a repressed emotion kind of guy -- but for now, they can wait.

Mark is scowling at his closed laptop like it's done him a grievous wrong by not transporting itself from the desk to where he's sprawled over his bed.

Eduardo is very carefully not thinking about what Mark looks like right now, spread out over his comforter, because a) he is Not Thinking about a lot of things right now and b) there's a time and a place, Saverin, get your shit together.

"I ate the soup, Wardo," Mark announces. "Come give me my laptop back."

"No," Eduardo tells him, simply, and walks over to the bed. "You're going to go to sleep now."

He folds his arms, gathering his strength to fight this one out as well, but, unexpectedly, Mark just nods, and slides under the covers.

Eduardo is really not in the emotional state to question anything that actually goes his way, so he's just going to go with it. He doesn't think he could have actually stood having to talk Mark into bed right now anyway, so this is definitely for the best.

Oh god, Mark said he loves him.

"All right, then," Eduardo says. His voice has turned soft against his will; to no one's surprise, he doesn't have the best control of his reactions where Mark is concerned.

Eduardo leans down to pull the duvet up around Mark, to make sure he'll be warm enough. The amount of self-control it is taking Eduardo not to kiss Mark's temples, slide in beside him and wrap his arms around him until he falls asleep, is almost staggering. Eduardo has definitely not had enough sleep to able to cope with any of this at all.

Mark closes his eyes.

Looking at Mark like this, boneless and half-asleep, hurts something in Eduardo's chest. He doesn't understand how he can love Mark so much like this, in the way that makes him want to put himself between Mark and anything that might do him harm, and also want to kiss him so hard their mouths hurt after. Love is complicated, and stupid, and it's had its stupid complicated hooks deep in Eduardo for long enough now he doesn't think it'll ever let him go.

I love you, Mark said, but did he mean it? Eduardo can't imagine Mark feeling like this and keeping it hidden: Mark tends to decide what he wants and take it, and Eduardo has been decidedly untaken as yet.

Mark closes his hand around Eduardo's wrist as Eduardo starts for the door, and Eduardo turns back, surprised.

"Mark?"

"Wardo," Mark says, dragging out the o, blinking up at Eduardo. "Don't go."

There is literally no part of Eduardo currently equipped to deal with that.

He sits back down on the edge of Mark's bed. "Okay," he says, because, really, what is his other option here? "I'm not going anywhere."

Mark turns his face sideways into the pillow, apparently satisfied. "Good," he mutters. His voice is slurring now. Eduardo thinks it can't be long before he falls asleep. He reaches out before he can stop himself, pushes Mark's hair back off his sweaty forehead.

Mark stirs, a little twitch of a movement, orientating himself back towards Eduardo. His grip on Eduardo's wrist is slackening. Eduardo eases his way free, moves Mark's arm back to the bed. The air on Eduardo's wrist feels cool where Mark's fingers were and he closes his own hand around it, against the loss.

He watches the lines of Mark's frown slacken out, the way Mark's fingers uncurl from his grasp on the top of the duvet, Mark's breathing steady out, until he's sure Mark's properly asleep, and then he very quietly tries not to have a panic attack.

I love you.

What the hell is Eduardo supposed to do now?

//

Eduardo stumbles out of Mark's room after about half an hour of terrible emotional wobbling on the edge of Mark's bed, clutching on to the empty soup bowl in his hands like it's going to give him all the answers to the questions pinioning their way around his mind. Did he mean it? Will he remember? Should I remind him when he feels better?

Not for the first time since he's known Mark, Eduardo wishes there were some way to turn off his feelings, just enough to give himself the space to think things through objectively. He's an economics major. Objectivity should come easier than it does.

Chris has apparently been waiting up despite Eduardo taking over. While this is commendable, Eduardo thinks, it also means that he gets up from the sofa, takes one look at Eduardo's face and goes, "Well, you look like a guy who needs to talk about his feelings."

Eduardo can't corral his feelings into a small enough group to get out in words yet, so this feels less admirable.

Instead of answering properly, Eduardo just nods and goes over to the sink. There isn't actually enough room to wash the bowl in the basin so he futzes around with the washing up liquid until he's more certain that if he open his mouth then the terrible he said he ~loved~ me! thoughts won't all come pouring out.

"No," he manages, when he eventually turns back around. "No, that's probably not the best idea."

Chris folds his arms. "Not the best idea? Eduardo, give me a break, okay?"

Eduardo shuffles his feet, caught. When Chris has set his mind to something, there's really no escaping it. There's a very real chance that Chris is going to end up running the world one day, Eduardo thinks, and god help anyone with anything to hide.

Not that Eduardo's been doing such a great job of hiding things, if the last twenty-four hours are anything to go by.

Chris pats the sofa next to him. "Sit," he says, in a tone that brooks no arguments. "Share your feelings."

Eduardo sits. "You are a genuinely terrifying person, you know," he says.

Chris shrugs. "It comes naturally."

Eduardo bites his lip. He can still hear Mark saying I love you, bouncing around and around inside his head like the world's most persistent echo, and even though he keeps reminding himself that Mark was under the influence of far too much heady cough syrup, he can't keep from smiling.

Chris is giving him this long-suffering look of patient inevitability.

Hey, did you know? Eduardo's brain is telling him, in case he's missed it the first ten thousand times. Mark? He loves you. You!

Eduardo gives up.

"Um," he says, taking a second to pick his words as best he can. "If someone says something under the influence, how -- do you think they mean it?"

"What did Mark say?" Chris asks, rolling his eyes.

"What did he say?" Dustin adds, bouncing out of his room where he has apparently been eavesdropping. Even if Eduardo had room to spare any more emotions right now, this would not come as a surprise. "Wardo," Dustin wheedles. "Tell us all about your squishy feelings."

"Um," Eduardo says again, and then promptly finds there is actually no way for him to get the words out without sounding ridiculous. Well, it's not like the day has been high in dignity thus far anyway. "Er," he says, "he said he loved me?"

Dustin leaps over the back of the sofa in delight and lands on Chris's knee. "It's about time!" he proclaims, flinging his hands in the air and nearly hitting Chris in the face. "What did you do to unlock his secret pine box heart?"

"Well, Dustin, I assume he just threw metaphors at him," Chris says dryly, shoving Dustin off his lap without turning a hair. "And you wonder why you're single."

"I am single because my awesome scares people away," Dustin says, imperiously. "And this isn't about me, Christopher, this is about Piney Saverin and his friend Bottled Up Zuckerberg and their angry puppy-eyed love."

"I am not puppy-eyed," Eduardo protests, unable to muster much heat for it. "And I'm not -- I don't -- " Chris is giving him the most impressive side-eye Eduardo has ever seen. Eduardo sighs, and gives up completely. Blind-sided. In love. Pining. He's done keeping it all back. "Fine," he admits, putting his head in his hands. "I'm pining."

Dustin actually yelps with glee. "Bro!" he yells. "Dude! Dude-bro! Welcome to the side of Emotional Honesty! Get your emotional mack on!"

He darts in, and before Eduardo can stop him, he kisses Eduardo, quick and smacking, on each cheek. Eduardo flails as far back as he can, and shoves Dustin away.

"Why?" he manages, scrubbing at his face. "Why, Dustin?"

Dustin is grinning idiotically at him. "Wardo," he says, "do you have any idea how long we have been waiting for the two of you to get with this particular programme?"

Chris hits him on the elbow.

"What?" Dustin turns to him, pulling a tragic face. "It's true!"

"Maybe Eduardo would like to be the one talking now," Chris points out. "This is kind of his moment."

They both turn back to Eduardo, expectant. Eduardo's mind goes completely blank. It's a nice change from the buzz of unsortable feelings, but it doesn't exactly help.

"Well," he tries, "I don't think now is my moment. For one thing, Mark is unconscious."

Dustin snorts. "A minor obstacle! Go and spoon!"

"Spoon?" says Eduardo. His voice comes out completely unsteady. He feels completely unsteady, shuffling emotions like cards. He doesn't know whether spooning Mark is exactly what would help or the polar opposite, whether he needs Mark under his hands, in his line of sight, or whether he just needs to go and sit in a dark, quiet room and have a lot of incredibly undignified emotions all by himself until they're at least partly out of his system.

Dustin, at least, has a fixed opinion on the matter. "Spoon, Saverin," he nods. "Go complete his cutlery set."

Eduardo snorts despite himself, and then he can't quite stop again. He puts his head in his hands and tries to take deep breaths but every exhale comes out as laughter and he can't get himself back together right.

It's been a bit of an exhausting night, all told. As hysterical reactions go, he thinks this is probably fairly restrained under the circumstances.

Someone puts a hand on his back, which Eduardo is grateful for. It gives him something else to focus on other than his shuffling deck of feelings. He clings to that, and forces himself to breath properly.

"Such a dramatic Latin flair," Dustin says, and winks when Eduardo turns to glare half-heartedly up at him.

"Must be what Mark sees in him," Chris rejoins.

"Hey," Eduardo protests, weakly, sitting up again. "Guys. I am right here."

Chris pats him on the shoulder. "Wardo," he says. "This is seriously not a problem. You both like each other. I am willing to bet you both like each other alarming amounts. You can definitely do this."

Eduardo's heart feels like it has just turned right over in his chest. "Right now?" he squeaks.

This is not his most dignified hour.

Chris's expression turns devious. Eduardo stands no chance. "Don't you want to make sure he's okay?" Chris asks, deceptively innocently, and Eduardo scowls, and gets to his feet.

"Just to see if he's okay, though," he lies, and Chris and Dustin nod like they can see right through that.

When Eduardo screws up his nerve and pushes open his door, Mark is almost entirely hidden under a heap of quilt, only just visible in the streetlight spilling in through the window. Eduardo is backing out again, reassured that Mark is getting some damn rest at last and really not wanting to interrupt it, when Mark rolls over to face him.

"Wardo?" Mark mutters. "Is that you?"

"Yeah, Mark," Eduardo says. He closes the door -- just before it meets the frame he sees Dustin making frantic get the fuck in there motions with his hands -- and goes to sit down on the edge of the bed. "It's me."

Mark keeps his eyes closed, shifts back to face the wall. "Good," he says, mostly asleep still, obviously entirely unguarded. "Missed you."

Eduardo bites his lip. Fuck, he's so gone on Mark it isn't even a little bit funny.

"Yeah?" he says, gently.

Mark nods against his pillows. He's sweating still, the edge of his duvet dark and damp with it, but he's shivering like he can't get warm. Eduardo thinks about it for roughly half a second, and then swings his legs up onto the mattress, huddles down by Mark's side.

Mark turns over as soon as Eduardo puts his head on the pillows, tucks himself right along Eduardo's side. He's radiating fever warmth even though the duvet but Eduardo turns in to him, pulls him in close.

Mark says Eduardo's name, quietly, into the crook of Eduardo's neck. His hair is tickling the underside of Eduardo's chin, and Eduardo thinks, well, he probably won't remember this, and presses a kiss to the top of Mark's head.

"I love you too," he whispers, letting it out, so quietly he almost can't hear it himself.

Mark stops shivering not long after that.

//

(part two!)
Tags: christmas gets a caps tag too, fandoms that ruin your life, fic: tsn, film: the social network, my fic
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