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Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five


Author's Note:

BIG THANKS to everyone for their patience! This part was hard to write--to go from all the baseball geekery to the Pride and Prejudice reference I've always wanted to do. We're really close to the end, and I cannot thank you all enough for your comments. Your encouragement keeps me going.

As a factual matter, the Red Sox weren't playing at Fenway for the Memorial Day weekend. This game actually happened on August 6.

Finally: as always, this fic is complete fiction that has absolutely nothing to do with people in real life. I invented a name for the newest character, and Google tells me that there is no person with this name. *fingers crossed*

-----------------



Baseball wasn't as boring as Mark thought, once he speed-read through Moneyball and got the fuss about OBP, WHIP, and WAR. Behind all the tobacco-chewing and posturing of the jocks on the field was the elegant math of sabermetrics. Mark liked to think that he could have been the Ivy Leaguer who built a world champion—too bad Theo Epstein got there first.

Then there was the ballpark experience, which had its own advantages.

“Get the fuck out of here, Lackey!” Mark shouted as the Red Sox pitcher hit the Yankees’ batter with a pitch to load the bases. “Instead of paying you sixteen million dollars, the Sox would have been better off buying MySpace!”

“Really?” asked Eduardo, who looked amused at Mark's enthusiasm. “That's the nicest thing I've ever heard you say about them.”

“I'm not saying MySpace is worth sixteen mil, just that it's worth more than John Lackey.” Mark took Eduardo's grin as another tally in the win column. He'd been ahead on points since they explored the ballpark during batting practice and found out that Fenway had a Kosher food vending machine. Eduardo insisted on ordering one of each item, and the potato knishes weren't bad for food that popped out of a black slot.

It only took some nudging from Mark for Eduardo to reminisce about his grandmother's cooking, and Mark dropped a few hints about inviting Eduardo to New Jersey for Hanukah. (See, Chris, he could be subtle!)

Lackey gave up another run to erase the Red Sox's lead against the Yankees, and Mark eagerly joined in the chorus of boos from the Fenway Faithful. It was nice to be on the other side of that level of venom, for a change. And there was something cathartic about expressing his disdain in such a socially approved manner. Mark fantasized briefly about attending the next tech conference incognito and using a flash mob to boo Eric Schmidt off the stage.

“Tito should pull Lackey out of the game. His VORP is negative at this point. VORP is Value Over Replacement Player,” Mark added for Eduardo's benefit. Not everyone could master the intricacies of baseball stats in two days.

“But who's the replacement player?” Eduardo asked, looking mystified.

“It’s an imaginary player who's below average for the league, an artificial construct to represent the freely available talent you can acquire at minimal cost . . . ” Mark reached for a pen as an idea seized him. “I bet we could calculate a Value Over Replacement Friend for everyone on Facebook. A program to compare your interaction with a friend to your interactions with everyone else. How many times you ‘Like’ their Wall posts, if you remember their birthdays, the number of Pokes. You can quantify all your friendships and rank them based on—”

“Bullshit.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said: Bullshit.” Eduardo glared at him. “Even you, of all people, should be able to tell the difference between a ‘Facebook friend’ and a real friend.”

Mark hated that term. “Your Facebook friends are your real friends. That’s the point.”

“You’re absolutely right.” Eduardo’s sarcasm was thicker than the overpriced beer. “Look at how often we interact on Facebook.”

Trying to think of a comeback, Mark couldn’t get around the sick feeling in his stomach. (Was Eduardo’s conversion to Twitter complete? Should Mark get a Twitter account? What was Eduardo trying to say?)


Eduardo ignored subsequent overtures, even when Mark bought them an obscene amount of pink cotton candy. The silent treatment continued until—

“Oh my god, I think Jacoby Ellsbury just looked at me.” Eduardo clutched Mark’s arm as the Red Sox hitter strode up to the plate.

“No,” Mark said slowly. “I’m pretty sure he’s focused on C.C. Sabathia.” The Yankees pitcher had given up two runs, with two men remaining on base, and the Red Sox crowd was hungry for more.

It didn’t hurt that Jacoby Ellsbury was excessively good-looking. Mark had no illusions about his own appearance, but he liked to think that the Winklevosses of the world hadn’t changed the fundamentals of human interaction. It was a cold comfort, though, when half the ballpark (including Eduardo) started screaming like they were Meg Ryan in a deli.

And then, of course, Ellsbury hit a home run.

Flashing a million-dollar smile—which was not as cool as a billion dollars—Ellsbury rounded the bases in a quick trot. As he approached home plate, Mark gripped Eduardo’s shoulder, in case Eduardo tried to rush on to the field.

“I could see the sweat on his brow!” Eduardo said, as he sank back with a happy sigh. “I feel like I could use a cigarette.”

Mark sulked in his own seat. No one ever enthused about drops of water on his face or feigned a nicotine addiction around him. And since when did Wardo gush about guys? (Not that there was anything wrong with that.) As far as Mark could tell, Eduardo never paid attention to other guys the way he paid attention to Mark . . .

“Awww, that’s adorable.” The girls seated next to Mark cooed, interrupting his train of thought. On the Jumbotron, a man went down on one knee and flipped open a small black box. His girlfriend gasped, teared up, and threw herself at him.

“Proposing at the ballpark. That’s so cliché,” Mark said. He glanced over at Eduardo, ready to laugh together over the banality of modern romance.

Except Eduardo was still turned towards the happy couple on screen. There was a strange look on his face, one that Mark half-remembered from many late nights, right before Eduardo pried him away from the keyboard and herded him to bed.

“Look, we’re on camera!” Mark’s neighbors sat up and waved, as the giant screen switched to showing their row. Snapping out of his weird mood, Eduardo smiled politely at the camera. Mark slouched down and scowled.

This was not going the way he’d planned.





“Hey, Mark.” Chris appeared in the doorway.

“What?” They’d both declined another night of partying in Kirkland, to Dustin’s dismay, and retired back to their suite in the Charles Hotel. For Mark, that meant a chance to catch up on work, and he didn’t welcome the interruption.

“Um, how do I put this,” Chris said, looking nervous. “I have a Mr. Rafael Saverin on the line for you. And he wants to videoconference.”

Mark’s brain froze for a moment. “Saverin? As in—”

“Eduardo’s father, yes.”

What? Why “Okay,” Mark said, saving his work and closing the windows. “Did you give him my personal account?”

“Yeah, it should link straight to your laptop. Good luck.” And Chris abandoned him.

It was only after Mark clicked yes to a videoconference that he remembered he’d been wearing the same hoodie for three days. He could only hope that mustard stains did not show up on webcam.

Judging by Rafael Saverin’s expression, it did. A flash of disdain crossed his face, before it returned to a look of severity. “Good evening, Mr. Zuckerberg.”

Well, two could play this game. “Hello, Mr. Saverin. To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“You already know the answer. You should not look so surprised, that a father would want to speak to you.”

Mark had wondered about Eduardo’s father, but that had been years ago. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Mr. Zuckerberg,” Rafael Saverin said, eyes appearing dark with anger. “Your dealings with my son, that was business. I did not like it, but I let Eduardo handle his own business. But this, this is personal. I am the head of the Saverin family, and here you try to hurt my family.”

What the fuck? Mark could feel himself flush from irritation. “Mr. Saverin, I really don’t know why you are calling me.”

“A rumor has reached me, a terrible rumor. I was told that you, that Mark Zuckerberg, was engaged to be married to my son, my own son, Eduardo. That you have reserved a church for this Sunday to that very purpose. And today I see you and Eduardo at a baseball game on television, on national television. You—you must be the one spreading this disgusting lie.”

An instinctive fury overwhelmed any denials Mark could have made. “If I am one to spread lies, I would hardly say so.”

“Oh, yes,” Eduardo’s father sneered. “Because you have no heart and no shame. Is it true? Are you and he to marry?”

“You have declared it to be a ‘disgusting’ lie.” The word made Mark’s hands shake with rage.

“It ought to be. It must be. But my son has his weaknesses.”

“A weakness for men?” Chris would be proud, Mark thought, at how much sarcasm he could convey in a sentence.

Rafael Saverin snorted. “My wife tells me that it is the twenty-first century, that we must accept such things.” He frowned. “Even so, Eduardo has a choice of companions, unobjectionable companions.”

“If that is true, you have no reason to think he would marry me.”

He hesitated, then replied. “After how you made a fool of him, yes, he should have nothing to do with you. But Eduardo is his mother’s son, with his mother’s heart. You may have drawn him in. You may have made him forget how you humiliated him.”

“And if Eduardo has forgiven me, why shouldn’t we be happy together?” Mark asked. The words burned inside him.

“A man capable of loving my son would not have done what you did. Tell me, once and for all, are you engaged?”

Mark had no answer, except the truth. “No, we are not.”

Eduardo’s father seemed pleased. “And from one man of the world to another, will you promise me, never to enter into such an engagement?”

“I will make no such promise.”

“Are you determined to shame him in the eyes of the world?” Saverin looked like he was about to have an aneurysm. “You tried to screw him out of a company, now you want to screw—”

“Don’t you fucking dare. Don’t you dare finish that sentence.”

“Don’t take that tone with me, you little bastard. If you touch my son, I will—”

Mark slammed the lid down, then threw the laptop against the wall. In the ensuing silence, he could hear his own ragged breaths. Fuck.
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