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Part One
Part Two
Part Three

All things considered, Mark thought the evening had been going well. Eduardo was mocking his sports knowledge, confessing to Twitter treachery, even laughing at his Michael Corleone impression. (Take that, Dustin!) But then a shadow fell over Eduardo’s expression, and he refused to look up from his mushu chicken.

What did he do wrong? Mark tried to scroll back through their conversation. It was like he had forgotten a bracket somewhere and now half the page was in italics. Or wingdings. But even as Mark zipped through the small talk (oil futures, hybrid cars, and LinkedIn’s annoying features), Eduardo continued to shrink from eye contact.

With a silent apology to Chris, Mark fell back on the Sean Parker solution for awkward moments: he ordered more alcohol.

“Marrrk.” Eduardo staggered up to the glass doors and gave them an ineffectual tug. “Why is it locked?”

“Because the library is closed.”

“But why is it closed? Where will people study?”

Mark wondered if Eduardo had been one of those children who followed adults around asking “why”; Mark had always preferred to discover things for himself. (And now he couldn’t help imagining Eduardo as a child, with fluffy hair and eyes that took up half of his face. Or a kid with Eduardo’s laughing eyes and wide smile, but a sharp chin and messy curls. The thought made something in his chest seize up . . . Mark wondered if he should see a doctor.)

“Finals are over. No more studying.” Giving in to temptation, Mark wrapped an arm around Eduardo’s shoulders and tried to steer him back on to the footpath.

Eduardo resisted, head lolling against Mark’s. “Heyyy,” he said, smiling lazily. “Do you remember when we camped in there overnight? Because you had that ‘Greek Heroes’ paper and hadn’t done any reading?”

They had taken over a corner of the library with pillows and sleeping bags and smuggled in Cheetos and Red Bull. Chris divvied up the assigned books between the four of them, then made a flow chart for writing and editing various drafts of the paper. At one point, Dustin downed his fourth can of Red Bull and then freaked out because he thought he was having a heart attack.

Mark remembered conking out halfway through the third draft, waking up to the gentle touch of a hand in his hair. He’d opened his eyes to the sight of Eduardo’s smile, lit up by the glow of dawn.

Which was a terrible sight, because it meant that their (fine, his ) paper was due in three hours. Those last hours were one mad sprint, including an actual sprint down the street to the teaching fellow’s mailbox. Mark recalled taking mental notes as he tried to catch his breath in a stairwell:

1. Flipflops are not meant for running.

2. Eduardo has very nice teeth.

3. There must be an easier way for students who didn’t do the reading to share work with each other. (Perhaps he could code something . . .)

“Mark?” Eduardo asked when Mark remained silent. Then he sighed. “Of course you don’t. Typical.” He abruptly pulled away from Mark’s grasp and stumbled across the grass.

“No, wait! I remember, I do.” Mark hurried after him. “Chris made you do the final edits, because my handwriting ‘made him cry.’ And you made me buy breakfast at Dunkin’s for everyone.”

Eduardo did not respond. He stopped at the staircase to the main yard, face turned towards the trees below. Above the trees rose the white bell tower of Memorial Church, gleaming in the moonlight.

“Do you ever wonder how many people have prayed for you to be a better person?”

“What?” Mark asked, surprised by the non sequitur.

Eduardo waved an unsteady hand towards the bell tower. “Memorial Church.” He turned and gestured at the brick edifice of the university’s largest library. “And Widener. Faith and Reason, facing each other across the heart of the campus. I used to think reason alone was enough . . . but it isn’t, is it?”

“I don’t understand.” Mark never did when Eduardo drank enough to bring out the metaphors.

“I never wanted you to be a ‘better person,’ Mark. You’re brilliant and blunt—and I thought you were awesome just the way you were.” He looked Mark in the eyes. “And now . . . you’re still a genius, Mark. But I can’t bear to admire it because I can’t believe in you any more. We lost faith in—no, we broke faith with each other.”

The old resentment rose up, and Mark couldn’t hold back the words. “You didn’t come to California with us. You froze the account.”

“Yes, I did,” Eduardo said, voice level. “And I am sorry for my part in it. But apologies aren’t enough either.”

Once, Eduardo would have shouted at least. Mark suddenly felt very old. “What do you want me to do?”

Eduardo was already walking away. “Goodnight, Mark.”

“And here we have one of my personal favorites: Monet’s Red Boat at Argenteuil. Painted in 1875, this piece has a companion in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. Of course, we’d like to think our painting is the superior.”

Eduardo rolled his eyes at the curator’s smug chuckle and wished again that he’d skipped the personal tour for donors to the university museums. He’d woken up with a pounding headache and a general sense of mortification. (Why did he drink so much? Or say so much to Mark? His father had always accused him of self-indulgence.)

The Monet was rather pretty though. Eduardo wondered how much it would fetch on the market. Maybe he should sell half his Facebook shares and go into art collecting instead . . .

“Or we could just steal it. I’ve already scoped out security.”

“Dustin,” Eduardo hissed. “What are you doing here?”

Dustin grinned. “Remember when we watched The Thomas Crown Affair and decided we should be art thieves? You’re the suave front man, of course, and Mark’s our hacker. I get explosives, and Chris’ll be the getaway driver. We’re rich and handsome, so no one will suspect us!”

Eduardo could feel a vein throbbing in his forehead. “Wouldn’t it be obvious when art keeps disappearing wherever we go?”

“That’s the thing. We’ll let everyone think you and Mark are enemies, when we’re all secretly working together. You can do the recon, like, in a tux, then bang a classy chick while we hit the place. We’ll clear out before the cops arrive, and you’ll have an airtight alibi.”

Dustin continued to explain his plan, with disturbing enthusiasm for Eduardo’s role (which was apparently that of James Bond).

“But what happens when the cocky insurance agent comes after us?” Eduardo asked, unable to help himself. “And he dazzles Mark into giving us up to Interpol? We’d have to break out of prison and hide in Rio.”

“You’re no fun.” Dustin pouted.

Eduardo felt that he had a right to stay bitter about Sean. (Yet another self-indulgence, his father would say.) “So, why are you here?”

“We wanted to support the arts. Give back to the community.”

Eduardo whirled around. “You!” He pointed an accusing finger at Mark. “You never even went to class for that art history course!”

Mark visibly winced. “It was at nine in the morning, and powerpoints put me to sleep. But I’m not that nineteen year-old any more—”

“Mr. Zuckerberg!” the curator cut in. “I’m so glad you can join us. I was just going to ask Mr. Saverin here about how we can use social media to increase awareness of the arts.”

“Yeah, Mark.” Eduardo gritted his teeth. “Tell her about how you used social networks to write your papers.”

Eduardo slipped away while Mark squirmed and said something about cross-platform synergy—only to run into a plate of hors d'œuvres.

“Try the mini-quiche.” Dustin popped another one in his mouth. “This stuff is fantastic.”

Five hours later, Eduardo found himself perched on a familiar windowsill as not-so-familiar faces filed into the Kirkland suite. Dustin had even procured a keg, though Eduardo kept to his Sam Adams. Not even the pounding beat of music could drown out the buzz of conversation.

It was exactly the kind of party they wished they’d thrown, in college. Now, Eduardo missed those long nights of problem sets and Halo and episodes of Smallville.

He toyed with the idea of getting another beer, but cringed at the thought of squeezing through the crowd. Enough people were familiar with Facebook’s origin tale to make Eduardo uncomfortable with their stares and whispers. Instead, he sidled along the wall until his hand brushed a doorknob.

The door shut easily behind him. Unfortunately, it was the only door out the room.

“Wardo.” Mark looked up from his laptop, then at Eduardo’s empty hands. He nodded towards the cooler at his feet. “Dustin got Sam Summer for you.”

Eduardo debated whether to accept the unspoken invitation. Fuck it. He’d endured an entire afternoon of Mark’s company (Dustin clung to him like a koala when he tried to escape.) What was another hour?

Uncapping another bottle of Sam Adams, Eduardo sank down on the narrow bed, his back to the wall. Next to him, Mark typed away. It was almost like old times.

“Dustin Pedroia.”


“Dustin Pedroia,” Mark repeated. “He’s the second baseman for the Red Sox.”

Eduardo could feel the wrinkles form as he searched his memory. “Wha—oh! Mark, that conversation was twenty-four hours ago.”

Mark shrugged. “You know how I am.” His nonchalance was ruined by the way his eyes darted at Eduardo’s face.

Yeah, I do. Eduardo bit back the instinctive response. He went with the question he should have asked, all those years ago. “Do I?”

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October 2011

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