disclaimer: Based on the Social Network idea of Mark Eduardo, but in no way true. All from my own head.
A/N: I wrote this story 9 years ago, then I went away before I could post the ending. I thought I'd lost it and couldn't face rewriting it, but recently found it in an old email. Posting this for my own satisfaction in completing the story after all these years. Thank you to readers of years gone by.
Continued from here.
In 2010 there is a film.
For the most part, it gets things right. Conversations are skewed and meetings are fabricated, but mostly it captures what went on during those months at Harvard and in Palo Alto. You can feel it, almost taste the pure genius of their creation. That, Eduardo thinks, is what the film is about. It’s about a kid who had an idea that smashed all other ideas, before or since. It’s about a 19-year old proving himself to the whole fucking world. It’s about two friends who saw things differently and how – stupidly, Eduardo thinks now, wastefully – that split them apart. Their relationship comes off as kind of gay, but in reality they kind of are.
The film doesn’t mention leukaemia. It ends at an imagined point just before Eduardo found out that Mark was sick. It doesn’t go into the weeks in hospital or the terror of waiting for news after his operation or the nights spent sat on the cold tiled floor of the bathroom next to Mark as he vomited again and again, sobbing in weakness and pain. It doesn’t mention the hundreds of millions of dollars that Mark doled out to various leukaemia and cancer charities, or the awareness campaigns that he endlessly supported, or the visits he and Eduardo made to young cancer patients in hospitals across the country, spreading a message of hope, telling people that you can survive. You just need to try and hold on. Carry on fighting. And if you have a delicious Brazilian-American holding your hand, that can help, too.
They watch the film in a rented out theatre with a hundred or so Facebook employees. Mark is surprisingly calm about the whole thing, but Eduardo panics.
“What if people don’t like me?” Eduardo whispers to Mark as the lights go down.
“Who cares?” Mark shrugs.
“People are going to think I’m an idiot. Nobody signs anything without reading it first. I know they’re going to focus on that…”
Mark doesn’t reply, but he links his fingers through Eduardo’s, holding his hand, and Eduardo realises that it doesn’t matter if people don’t like him – at least Mark does.
They don’t talk throughout the film. Others do; people laugh at Dustin and there is a mass booing when the too-good-looking Winklevoss twins appear, and Erik, the original intern, cheers when on-screen Mark welcomes him to Facebook, but things go quiet when the laptop gets smashed and Eduardo looks at Mark for the first time in two hours when Andrew Garfield murmurs point-zero-three percent. Mark is wincing, his eyes screwed shut, and Eduardo squeezes his hand, letting him know that it’s okay.
When the credits roll and people start clapping, as though it is live theatre and not a movie, Eduardo and Mark turn to look at each other.
“What did you think?” Eduardo asks after a moment.
“Yeah,” he laughs, relieved that this isn’t going to stir up anything between them. “You were good though. I mean, the guy who played you.”
Mark nods. “I liked his hair.”
Mark, whose hair has grown back softer after the chemotherapy, the curls far less pronounced, looks to Eduardo, who pulls a face.
“I prefer yours,” he says.
Mark smiles, but it slowly fades and his expression turns serious. “You know people will actually care about us now, right? They’ll talk to us…they’ll want to know what happened…”
Eduardo shrugs. “So we’ll tell them.”
“Tell them what?”
“That we were best friends and we screwed things up, but now we’ve fixed it. And we’re in love.”
“We’re in love,” Mark murmurs, nodding slowly. “Yes. We are.”
Eduardo leans over and kisses Mark then, in the emptying movie theatre. And Mark kisses back, the way he always does, like he’s promising Eduardo something. He kisses like he really, really means it and Eduardo never takes that for granted, never. When you come that close to losing someone, every single day feels like a gift and still every morning, years after the all-clear, Eduardo wakes up next to Mark and thanks whoever it was that let him keep this man. And he knows – they both know – that in the future it might change; the cancer might come back and Mark might need more treatment, but Eduardo will be there with him, by his side, always.
Their lips part and they look at one another, both of them searching and, as always, finding the answers to all of their questions. On the screen, the credits are rolling to a close. A part of their relationship immortalised on film; a time that Eduardo would never go back to, but that he remains forever grateful for.
“Do you want go home?” Mark asks him, placing a hand on Eduardo’s knee.
Eduardo nods and leans in for another kiss, one more before they leave the theatre and drive home. Their tongues touch, gentle and loving, lips pressed together like their bodies in the lamplight haze of their bedroom at night. When Eduardo kisses Mark, he tastes the future. He tastes healing and brilliance and sarcasm and all the marvellous and beautiful things that Mark is, some of which only Eduardo gets to see. He tastes, Eduardo thinks, as they part and smile softly at one another, like life.