Warnings: We experience the emotions of a 19-year old boy, who is rather emotional. Seriously, Eduardo's mind is a strange place sometimes.There is also cursing in abundance. And vaguely suicidal thoughts once or twice.
Rating: idk, PG-13 so far? Idk, I think it should be a bit higher. Eduardo's obsessiveness is a little disturbing at times.
Word count: 8405
Disclaimer/AN: literally none of this belongs to me. Adventureland and TSN belong to their respective owners. The idea behind this is all due to the incredible Nas, who thought that there really should be a TSN-theme-park (I agree wholeheartedly).
This story is me taking the TSN kids and putting them in a new setting, with lots of lame humour and a bastardisation of the plot of Adventureland.
I don't even know.
The post got too large for livejournal, so the rest will be packed into a separate post. Which is convenient, because I think I need to rewrite the ending and I might do that after the a-thon is over, when I have more time ^^
TSN-land (an Adventureland crossover)
(someone's house, a graduation party)
Eduardo Saverin had spent most of the evening just staring at Alan in, what he hoped, was a loving and not creepy way.
It was however getting late and even staring at someone as attractive as Alan could only entertain you for so long.
He slung an arm around Alan's shoulder to catch his attention. "Shall we get out of here?" he asked.
Alan turned around to face him, winding out of his hold in the process. He looked distinctly uncomfortable "Erm...". Eduardos arm dropped and hung limply at his side.
"Look, Eduardo." Alan bit his lip, thinking of how to best break the news. He decided to make it quick. "I...I can't see you anymore. It's been...you...I...sorry." with an apologetic smile he turned around and walked away.
Eduardo stared after him, mouth opening and closing, no words coming out.
He needed a drink.
As expected he found his two best friends, the Winkelvoss twins Tyler and Cameron, at the improvised bar.
Tyler and Cameron understood Eduardo, it was one of the reasons they were friends.
If you were to ask someone outside the trio as to why they were friends, they might tell you it was, because they thought they were better than everybody else.
They wouldn't be wrong. However, when they were sitting together, sharing a joint, planning their post-graduation trip to Europe, they didn't dwell on the general lack of quality in their peers, they prefered to focus on their own amazingness.
They took one look at him and Tyler pulled him into a manly hug, while Cameron poured them shots.
"Men are fickle" Tyler offered, with what he thought was a comforting tone, several drinks later. "That's why we date women!" Cameron interjected and laughed like he'd made the funniest joke ever. No matter how much alcohol the had, Cameron always seemed a little more drunk that the rest of them.
"You were only dating for a week" stated Tyler, like that made it any less tragic. Eduardo corrected him "Actually, it was 11 days", before downing another drink.
Cameron paused with his glass half up to his lips, gaping at him "Wait a sec! Eduardo, you didn't tell her about your V-card, did you?"
Eduardo didn't even have to answer. Cameron groaned and downed his drink. In a whiny tone he continued "But you promised you wouldn't! No one likes a virgin, man. You need to get laid, stat. The next lonely, depressive, desperate gay guy who so much as looks at you is game. Just get it over with, right?" Cameron looked around for support, Tyler nodded sagely in agreement, but Eduardo determinedly shook his head. "Just because some people" Cameron understood that to mean 'you' "have no standards, doesn't mean it's wrong for me to have them. I'll only have sex with someone I love, thank you very much". Tylers amused chuckles made him feel marginally better and eventually Cameron joined in too.
"Just you wait Mr High Standards, we'll get you a nice guy in Europe" Tyler filled their glasses again and proposed a toast "To Europe", "To Europe" echoed his friends.
(a restaurant, dinner in celebration of Eduardo's graduation)
Eduardo was laying out the financial details of the Europe-trip to his parents.
"Due to a miscalculation of the cost of Youth Hostels, I'll be needing an additional 300$ to the 900$ you're already giving me, thanks again."
He looked up from his notes and is met with stern faces.
Before he could say anything else, his mother took his hand. Coupled with the apologetic look on her face, Eduardo realized that no, this coldn't be good.
"Eduardo, sweetie." She never called him sweetie, this was bad. "First of all, your father and I want to tell you how proud we are of you, aren't we David?" Mr Saverin mumbled something unintelligible. Mrs Saverin elbowed him and, with a disapproving glance over to her, he agreed "Yes of course Marilyn. Very proud." Eduardo almost cracked a smile, but his mother continued talking and he really didn't feel like smiling anymore.
"We really didn't want to ruin your graduation, but you need to know the truth: Your father has been transferred to a different department. What that means is that...we can no longer afford to pay for your trip to Europe."
It couldn't be true. This couldn't be happening. "But, but the trip was my graduation present." he hates himself for the stutter, for the fact that he whines like a child that had it's lollipop taken away, but it all seemed so unfair to him.
His mothers fake cheerful smile slipped a little. "I'm sorry honey, we just can't afford it.
His father ordered another drink. Eduardo would love a drink himself right now.
"You can still help me out with rent next year, right?" Eduardo's voice was trembling slightly, he couldn't help it.
His mother sounded exasperated "Are you listening to what I'm saying?"
The waitress arrived with his father's drink.
Mr Saverin thanked her and tried to change the topic.
He raised his glass to his son "Here's to you Eduardo, happy graduation!"
Eduardo couldn't let it go though. "What about Columbia? they're holding a spot for me!"
His mother closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, like she did when she could feel a migraine coming up.
"If you want to go to Columbia, you're going to have to find a job."
Eduardo really needed a drink now.
(The lawn in front of the house in which Tyler, Cameron and Eduardo had shared a little flat)
There were boxes with all of the stuff that has accumulated over the years, which the boys were loading in their respective parents' trunks.
The parents were standing together in polite conversation, something that never failed to make their offspring feel slightly uneasy.
Cameron beckoned Eduardo to come over to where he and Tyler were sifting through a box of records with a mock secretive gesture.
They huddled around the box.
"Man, it sucks that you'll be spending your summer in Pittsburgh" Cameron sighed. Tyler nodded with a pitying look on his face.
Eduardo pretended to look through the records, so he didn't have to look them in the face. He was afraid the jealousy he felt might show.
Tyler rested a hand on his shoulder "Hey man, I know everything kind of sucks for you at the moment, but think of next year. We'll be in New fucking York, the most awesome city on the whole planet. Our dad has great connections, so we'll get a great deal on out apartment and if all else fails, we'll float you for the first few months, right Cam?" he looked at his brother, who nodded enthusiastically.
Eduardo felt much lighter, like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. "Thank you so much guys" he was glad his voice didn't sound as teary as he felt.The twins gave him an identical bright grin and clapped him on the shoulders.
"Don't mention it" Cameron said, breezily waving his left arm around, while his right hand dug through his pockets.
A few seconds later he pulled out a joint and fit it between his lips.
Tyler watched with his usual serene smile, while Eduardo had trouble not panicking on the spot.
"What are you doing? Our parents are right over there." he hissed through clenched teeth, glancing nervously over to the adults who seemed, as of yet, unaware as to what their sons were getting up to.
"Relax. They're completely clueless. Wave to the nice people Eduardo." Cameron and Tyler started waving at their parents and Eduardo hesitantly joined them.
The adults waved back, showing no sign of suspicion, before turning back to whatever fascinating topic they had been talking about.
"See? clueless." Cameron observed with satisfaction, lighting the joint.
Tyler poked him in the ribs and gave him a meaningful look.
"Ah, right." Cameron rummaged through another box that had been close by and produced a plastic bag, filled with more joints.
He held it out to Eduardo, who was just about ready to panic again, when Tyler took the bag out of Cameron's hand and pressed it into Eduardo's.
"Here, so you can be with us in spirit." He smiled and Eduardo was going to have a heart attack if they kept waving drugs around in front of their parents, he he quickly snatched the bag from Tyler and forced himself to thank them.
Tyler laughed at him. "You worry too much Eduardo." "That's what the weed is for" Cameron supplied helpfully, with a seedy wink.
Eduardo couldn't help but laugh at that and carefully placed the bag in one of the boxes.
They finished loading their parents' cars and exchanged manly hugs in goodbye.
Eduardo couldn't help the sinking feeling that settled in his stomach as he saw the tall figures of the twins disappearing in the distance, when he and his parents drove off.
Eduardo looked through the window of the moving car at the houses that looked exactly the same as they had when he'd last seen them, they way they had looked all through his childhood.
People were mowing their lawns, children were playing outside, it was 'idyllic' for lack of a better word.
Eduardo's father had often told him, how fortunate he was to be growing up in such a lovely neighborhood.
Eduardo had always agreed, deciding it was not worth a fight, but he resented it.
He resented the fake-looking green lawns, the white picket-fences, the small white houses and the small-minded people that inhabited them.
They drove past a ginger boy in a red t-shirt on his bike.
The boy gave Eduardo the finger.
"It's good to be back, isn't it?" his father's cheerful voice managed to make Eduardo feel even worse, if that was possible.
"Sure." Not worth a fight.
In the following days Eduardo did everything to get a job. Well, not everything, he had standards after all, but he did not even hesitate when manual labor was required.
As it turned out, he needn't have bothered.
The fact that he had majored in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies was not at all appealing to any possible future employers.
In the end, he had to face the facts: the only job someone like him could get was at TSN-land, the big carnival at the outskirts of Pittsburgh, that needed more staff during the summer months.
His parents weren't exactly delighted, but as his mother remarked "At least you'll have a friend there".
By 'friend' she meant Dustin Moskovitz, the boy on the bike.
Yes, Eduardo was really looking forward to spending his summer with that guy at a crappy carnival instead of travelling Europe with his best friends.
"Sure, Mum." Not worth the fight.
(TSN-land, manager's office)
Eduardo had spent the bike ride to the park worrying.
TSN-land looked even worse than what he remembered from the last time he'd been there.
Granted, he'd only been six at the time and after he'd fallen out of the rowboat and nearly drowned early on, he hadn't paid that much attention to anything.
What hadn't changed from his six-year old self to now was that he had no clue as to what 'TSN' stood for.
It made him think of a drug, like LSD, but that didn't strike him as likely.
He was greeted by a man and a woman, who introduced themselves as Larry Summer and his wife Gretchen.
They didn't strike him as particularly competent, but they didn't mind his lack of work experience and he really needed the job. They had given him an odd look at first, presumably because he was wearing a suit to an interview at a carnival, but they hadn't said anything about it.
"So Eduardo, you want the games job, eh? Let's get you set up." With that, Larry pulled out a document and started filling it in.
"Erm, actually, I'd rather work at the rides. If the position is still available." Eduardo ventured timidly.
Larry looked up from the document, squinted his eyes and declared "You look more like a games guy. Anyway, I already have the games application out, so..."
"Yeah, uh, no problem." Not worth the fight. Especially since this was his new boss.
Larry finished, mumbling the words he was writing under his breath, and turned to Eduardo. "Let me explain the rules: No freebies, no free turns for your friends, no free upgrades, no free food." his face was so solemn, Eduardo found it hard to keep a straight face. "so, just nothing is free here, right" h summarized.
Larry nodded "Yep, everybody has to pay for everything." Easy enough to remember.
"There's another thing" Larry looked gravely serious now: "No one ever
wins a giant-ass chicken"
"Excuse me?" Eduardo was sure he'd misheard.
Larry repeated slowly "No one ever wins a giant-ass chicken"
"We don't have many left" came Gretchens voice from the back of the room.
Eduardo took a deep breath. "Eh, yeah, okay."
Gretchen stepped forward, holding out a blue t-shirt hat read 'games'.
"Here you go. By accepting this shirt you are officially hired."
Eduardo got changed in the tiny staff changing room.
Larry released him into "the trustee arms of one Erica Albright".
Erica was about his age in body, in cynicism she was about 20 years older than him.
When Larry had left them alone, she spread her arms out mockingly "Welcome to Paradise." Eduardo only smiled politely at that. She shrugged "Well, new guy. let's show you around."
They walked along the 'attractions' and Erica explained the many ways in which the games were manipulated so that they were almost impossible to win.
There was the "Cannibalistic Chicken" game, where you had to throw plastic chicken drumsticks into the beak of a chicken. You could only win, if you threw from a certain angle. Eduardo couldn't explain why, but this was his least favorite game. After the first day at TSN-land, he woke out soaked in cold sweat, screaming "I did not torture the chicken!", because he had dreamed of the Cannibalistic Chicken.
There was "The Marlin and the Trout", a fishing game, where you had to use a magnetic rod to fish cut metal fish from a tank. Erica confided that not all of the fish were actually magnetic.
He also learned what Larry had been talking about with the 'giant-ass chicken'. They were the prize for a game where you had to throw rings at bottles and make them stay on. If the ring landed on one of the red bottles(there were two, the others were white) the customer won a giant-ass chicken plush.
Erica dropped a ring directly over one of the red bottles, the ring bounced off. "It's un-winnable, you see? Those things" she pointed to the chicken plushies " are the best prize in the park. If anyone wins a giant-ass chicken on your watch you might as well go home, because your ass is fired." She shrugged.
She showed him around all kinds of other obscure games that had only one thing in common: they were impossible or at least very hard to win.
Eduardo's first booth was a rowing game, fortunately one without real water.
The customers had to throw balls in holes and depending on the value of the hole their ball landed in, their little rowing boat would move.
It was even less exciting to watch than real rowing.
Eduardo tried to make the best of being stuck there, but his lack of motivation was so obvious that Larry took him aside and had a serious word with him.
He used expressions like 'kick it up a notch' and 'crank it to 11', which made Eduardo feel slightly uncomfortable.
With a meaningful nod, Larry stepped back to watch the 'cranked up to 11' preformance.
Eduardo went all out. He jumped up and down like a cheerleader and made up currents and harsh winds that favored individual boats.
The end of the race saw him panting, throwing a fluffy bunny plush at the winner, who looked like he didn't quite know where his head was at. Larry gaped at Eduardo with a gobsmacked expression on his face "Yeah, that, er, that'll do".
Larry walked away, turning to look back at Eduardo every now and then.
Eduardo felt pretty pleased with himself.
While he waited for more customers, he looked over to the other booths.
His gaze met that of a boy, who was sitting on the counter of his booth, looking at Eduardo with an unreadable expression.
He was attractive, not in the way that Alan had been attractive, with his stupid black hair and his stupid blue eyes. Never mind Alan now. The mysterious boy was wearing a blue 'games' shirt like Eduardo. It looked a little too big on his skinny frame. With it he wore cargo shorts and were those flip-flops?
his hair was brown, curly and it looked very soft.
Eduardo checked himself. Was it normal to speculate on the softness of someone's hair?
The boy snickered, like he could read Eduardo's thoughts and found them amusing.
Eduardo's brain short-circuited. "I'm new!" he shouted over to the guy.
He raised his eyebrows, but didn't say anything.
Eduardo's booth on the next day was the one with the bottles and the rings. It was called 'A tiny chicken is not cool. You know what's cool? A huge chicken'. The name of the booth was on Eduardo's list of 'things he didn't understand about TSN-land', along with the name of the park, but it was easy to maintain, so he didn't complain.
A customer asked to buy 5 rings and started telling him a weird story about what his girlfriend had done when she'd had a few too many appletinis.
Eduardo listened politely, really not giving a crap, when he did a routine glance back over his shoulder to the bottles, to see a man holding his son over them. He turned around fully and no, it couldn't be! There was a ring on the top of a red bottle.
Eduardo had trouble breathing for a second.
"Oh will you look at that! you won! my son won! Great work Div!" the father was overjoyed and so was his offspring, who danced around his father, muttering unintelligible sounds of glee.
Eduardo braced himself "Erm, actually sir, I don't think I can. I saw you holding your son over the bottles. You. That's cheating.".
The father, at least a head taller than Eduardo and significantly heavier, did not take well to that. "Who're you calling a cheater, eh? My son won fair and square, sir. You need to give him a prize." the 'or else' was implied, but Eduardo couldn't back down, not with his job at stake.
The guy with the appletini-girlfriend backed the cheating father "I saw him throw it!"
"Oh, thank you, sir" the father replied and Eduardo could have sworn he winked at the other guy.
"Look, I really can't..." but he didn't even get to finish his sentence.
Appletini-girlfriend guy raised his voice "Hey, this fella here's trying to rip off a kid!"
A few passers-by stopped and looked at Eduardo disapprovingly.
"Why don't you just give the kid a fucking chicken?" the father's tone had become decidedly menacing.
Out of nowhere, curly boy from earlier appeared. He pulled out one of the huge chicken plushies and handed it to the man. "Here you go: one chicken for the lucky winner" he smiled, or rather: he showed his teeth. There was nothing friendly about the gesture.
The man grabbed the chicken and handed it to his son, who completely disappeared behind it.
"Yeah, thanks. Here you go Divya." they walked off without looking back.
The panic had taken control of Eduardo now. He was breathing heavily, sweat was trickling down his brow.
"I'm going to be in so much trouble. No one's ever supposed to lose a giant-ass chicken."
The curly boy gave him a blank look "Is it worth getting knifed over?"
Eduardo thought about it for a second "Er, no." "Damn right it isn't. That guy? he had a knife, he was playing with it while he talked to you. I'm sure he wouldn't have minded cutting you for that fucking chicken."
"Huh." Eduardo looked at the boy. He had pretty blue eyes. And he didn't want Eduardo to be knifed, that had to be a good sign.
"Oh" he remembered his manners "My name is Eduardo Saverin. I just started." "Mark Zuckerberg, nice to meet you." they shook hands. Mark had nice hands.
"Sucks you'll be fired on your second day." Marks voice was cool, emotionless.
The panic, that had subsided in the past minute, returned with full force. "Shit! I need this job" his voice was muffled, because he had buried his face in his hands.
"I'm kidding. You're fine. I'll tell Larry it was a life-or-death thing." Eduardo lowered his hands and was rewarded with the sight of Mark smiling. A genuine smile, that lit up his face. It was beautiful.
They were interrupted by one of the other booth guys shouting out "Parker! hey Parker! Rock on!" to a passing man, who was carrying a guitar. The man nodded, like he couldn't be bothered to react more than that.
"Who's that?" Eduardo turned to Mark. "Oh. That. That's Sean Parker, he's the maintenance guy."
At the end of their shift, a whole group of games staff stood together.
Eduardo was waiting for Dustin, who was his ride. His mother had called Dustin's mother and arranged it without asking Eduardo first.
He was talking to Erica, when Mark joined them.
Eduardo wanted nothing more than to be cool, to impress Mark.
"Look" he pointed to a wall a few meters away "I think someone tried to write 'Satan lives', but they spelled it 'Satin lives'" Smooth Eduardo, really witty.
Mark looked at him seriously "One of those textile-worshiping cults, no doubt."
Erica started laughing hysterically. "That's funny" remarked Eduardo, before joining in with Erica.
Mark chuckled. Eduardo was torn from staring at Mark's dimples, dimples I ask you!, but the arrival of Dustin.
Dustin was a man with impeccably bad timing.
"NSYNC? Nice shirt Mark" Mark didn't even dignify that with an answer, he just gave Dustin the finger.
Dustin quickly turned his attention to Eduardo. "You know about Parker and NSYNC, right?" Eduardo shook his head. Dustin's jaw dropped "He doesn't know about NSYNC you guys!" His colleagues exclaimed in mock terror.
"Parker once performed with NSYNC" Marks voice cut through the babble and silenced it. He didn't sound impressed, just kind of wary.
"Is he a musician then?" Eduardo couldn't help being a little impressed.
"Yup. Plays gigs in bars and everything. The chicks dig it!" Dustin sounded wistful in a way that suggested, that chicks didn't dig him very much.
Erica set about proving that point "Just shut up Dustin." She rolled her eyes "he's married".
Dustin looked the tiniest bit hurt "You're a bitch Erica Albright." but there was no heat in it.
"Alright loser, let's go." he waved to Eduardo. With a sigh he said his goodbyes.
He had only taken a few steps, when Marks voice stopped him in his tracks "I could give you a ride".
Eduardo's mood did a dramatic 180 degree turn to pure happiness "Really?"
"Dustin? I've got a ride! see you tomorrow" he shouted after his retreating figure.
"Yeah? whatever, you can suck my dick!" Eduardo was only half-listening and as he followed Mark to his car, he thought that if he was going to suck someone's dick, it was going to be Mark's.
The ride was uneventful. When the silence became slightly uncomfortable, Mark put on a CD.
To Eduardo's relief it was not an NSYNC one. Speaking of which: "Do you like NSYNC?"
Mark took his eyes off the road for a second to give him a disbelieving look.
Flustered, Eduardo tried to row back "I mean, they are obviously great. They are all very nice guys and those lyrics? deep. Their songs are so catchy. What's the one? 'bye bye bye'? awesome" he was babbling.
Mark started laughing about halfway through Eduardo's declaration of love for NSYNC
"Dude, I'm wearing this shirt, because all my other shirts are in the wash, it belongs to my little sister. I think she has outgrown them. I'm sure she'd gladly hand it over to a real fan." Mark looks decidedly too pleased with himself, Eduardo really should be put off, instead he found himself much too interested in Mark taking the shirt off and giving it to him.
He even considered pretending to really be into NSYNC to make it happen.
Sadly Mark chose this moment to change the topic.
"Erica tells me, you'll be going to Columbia for grad school? I'm at NYU right now."
It was late and definitely dark, but Eduardo felt like the sun has just come out. He would live in the same city as Mark! "Maybe I'll run into you" Eduardo tried to play it cool, but he already thought up ways in which to make that happen.
Mark pulled up in front of Eduardo's house.
"Here we are" he smiled at Eduardo. "Thanks for the ride" Eduardo wanted to say more. So much more, but he couldn't. "No problem. See you tomorrow"
Eduardo wanted to say 'don't go', but he didn't want to seem clingy, so he just waved at Marks tiny, rickety car as it disappeared into the night.
The next day Eduardo was in charge of a booth called 'Caribbean shooting range".
The goal of the game was to shoot barrels that went down Niagara Falls.
He was just talking to Parker, who was fixing one of the guns, when Mark approached them.
Mark smiled, but he seemed a little nervous.
"Hey guys. My father's away for work, so I'm having a party tonight. You should come."
His eyes flicked from one to the other and occasionally to the little barrels toppling over the edge of the waterfall. "Definitely." Even if he had had plans, he'd have cancelled them in a heartbeat. Anything to spend more time with Mark. "Parker?" "Busy. Sorry. You kids have fun"
Mark shrugged. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I can't be around this booth. Who owns this park? Morons?" Muttering something about 'Caribbean and Niagara Falls' under his breath, he left.
Eduardo followed him with his eyes. It was not just to check out Mark's backside, though he did that too, what he felt for Mark was different. Yes, there was plenty of physical attraction: he wanted to run his hands through Mark's hair(he might be a little obsessed with those curls), to hold Mark's hand, to run his hands over every inch of Mark's skin and so, so much more, but it was even more than that: he wanted to write sappy poems about Mark's blue eyes, take him out to dinner, talk to him, feed him grapes, to do all those ridiculous couple-y things that people did.
When he pulled himself down from cloud nine, he saw Parker looking at him with an odd expression.
"You got it bad, huh?" Eduardo felt heat rise to his cheeks "Am I that obvious?"
"You are to me. Mark is a nice guy." Eduardo would later realize, that Parker had sounded suspiciously thoughtful there, but it wasn't until much later, that he would realize why.
Pittsburgh, Mark's house, house party
Eduardo had literally spent hours on his outfit and on his hair.
He as still not quite whether a suit was appropriate for the occasion, but he kept hearing his father say 'dress to impress' in his mind over and over again and to decided to just follow his advice.
Mark lived in a nice house, interior and exterior were exceptionally tasteful. Music was playing loudly and people were dancing.
Eduardo knew most of the people, they all seemed to be TSN-land staff.
He spotted Mark on the other side of the living-room, wearing shorts, a hoodie and flip-flops and good god, how did he manage to look so appealing, just standing there?
Eduardo waved at him. The movement caught Mark's eye and he met him half-way.
"Hi" there was no reason for Eduardo to be breathless, but he was.
"You came" Mark stated the obvious, and then he added "in a suit."
Eduardo really wished that Mark was easier to read, because he couldn't tell if Mark was amused by his choice of clothes.
"You look like my dad, when goes off to the office in the morning." That didn't help Eduardo.
"He's a lawyer" Mark specified. Still no idea.
Finally, "You look good." Eduardo let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. He felt very pleased with himself, especially when he noticed the faint shade of pink that Mark's cheeks had turned.
Mark must have been aware of it too, because he seemed very keen on distracting Eduardo.
"Bet you didn't expect that, huh? a lawyer. But what can I say? It was his life-long dream for his son to work at TSN-land." he gave a mirthless laugh. "Whatever. It get's me out of the house."
Eduardo could tell, that Mark didn't enjoy this topic and more than anything he wanted Mark to be happy, to smile that genuine smile that made Eduardo feel like his chest might burst.
"Speaking of which: do you have any idea what 'TSN' stands for?" Marks eyes focused on him, his eyebrows knitting together in confusion for a second, before he relaxed again. " I have absolutely no clue." and then he started laughing.
Eduardo wanted to see him laugh again, see him smile, he even wanted to see Mark's sadness, to comfort him, to be there for him.
Which, okay, was a little scary, because he had only just met Mark and he kind of wanted to spend the rest of his life with him already.
It was a dangerous train of thought, so to stop it, and maybe a little, because he wanted to impress Mark, he rummaged through his pockets.
"Actually, I brought something for the party!" Eduardo declared proudly, producing a little white wrapper that had seen better days.
"Erm, thanks? what is it?" Mark sounded vaguely amused.
"It's a joint" Eduardo explained, bending it in shape as best as he could."Oh" Marks eyes widened in realization and an appreciative smile played on his lips.
How Eduardo wanted to lick that smile away, to sink his teeth in those lips, to push them apart with his tongue and invade Mark's mouth. As far as distractions went, the joint was a failure."Let's go outside" Mark set off towards an open double door, that led into the garden.
Eduardo could see people standing together, smoking.He looked at Mark and felt like he might die if he didn't touch him, so he placed a gentle hand in the small of Mark's back.Mark looked up to him, like he might say something, but then he just smiled at Eduardo and let himself be led outside.
The joint, and Eduardo as the bringer of it, received a warm welcome, that was no consolation whatsoever, when he had to let his hand drop from Mark's back.
The joint went around and while everybody else was busy exchanging horror stories about what had happened during their shifts at TSN-land, Eduardo debated whether or not he could just kiss Mark, with himself.
Just as he reached a conclusion, he would go for it but not in front of all these people, Mark raised his voice "I'll go for a swim, if anybody would like to join me?"
Eduardo was pretty sure he hadn't imagined that Mark had looked at him more than anyone else when he'd said that.
He followed Mark to the pool. It was quite big, about 7 x 5 meters, with expensive-looking, cream-colored tiles and sparkling turquoise water.
The yellow lights that shone from the house illuminated everything nicely, it was nearly as bright as day.
Eduardo said a silent 'thank you' to Mr and Mrs Zuckerberg, for their determination to keep the darkness at bay and for their willingness to put up with electricity bills that must surely be huge, because he could see Mark as clear as day.
Mark, who had dropped his hoodie, shorts and flip-flops in a heap on the floor, who was swimming in nothing but boxers, who he wanted very badly.
"Come on, Wardo!" It was the first time Mark used this name and for a second Eduardo pondered jumping in the water, suit and all, and ravishing Mark on the spot.
He didn't want to seem pushy though.
With as much elegance and grace as he could muster, which was not a lot considering he was a horny 19-year old who wanted to get undressed as quickly as possible, he shrugged out of his jacket, pulled his button-up over his head and shimmied out of his trousers.
Too late he remembered that he was only wearing briefs, but in retrospect it probably wouldn't have made a difference, if he'd known.He climbed down the little ladder. The water was a bit of a shock, colder than he'd expected, and for a good minute Mark was wiped completely from his thoughts.
"You should submerge" came Mark's helpful voice from somewhere very close to Eduardo's left ear.
Obediently he sank below the surface. For a second that made it worse, but when he resurfaced, the water felt warmer.
Mark must have been able to tell from his face, because he was smiling smugly.
"Told you so" Eduardo's thoughts had returned to Mark's lips and the things he wanted to do with them.
When Mark swam closer, Eduardo had the faint hope, that he might have something similar in mind.
Smaller though he was, it turned out Mark was surprisingly strong and coupled with Eduardo being distracted by a certain pair of lips, he managed very easily to duck Eduardo.
Eduardo came back up, spitting water, trying to get some air in his lungs. He didn't even think before jumping at Mark's shoulders and pushing them down under the water.
They both resurfaced at the same time, breathing heavily.
Mark moved towards him once more and Eduardo dived underneath him.
When Eduardo set out for the counter attack, Mark clung to him, which was a simple, yet effective way to short-circuit Eduardo's brain.
All rational thought vanished, leaving only 'Mark': Mark's skin pressed against his own, Mark's arms wrapped around his neck, Mark's legs wrapped around his torso, Mark's crotch pressed against his stomach, Mark's face close to his own, Mark's face close to his own, Mark's lips smiling at him. Always those lips.
They went under then, since Mark couldn't move very much and Eduardo had stopped treading water. The only thing Eduardo registered, was that Mark was still clinging to him. And that he needed oxygen.
His legs started treading water, seriously how does the pool in your fucking backyard have to be?, and one of his arms started paddling.
The other arm held firmly onto Mark's waist and would not be removed unless the danger of drowning was imminent.
Mark, for his part, used one of his arms to paddle them upwards. It didn't do much, but Eduardo appreciated the effort.
Even more he appreciated the arm, that remained wrapped around his neck.
Their struggle lasted all of three seconds, before they broke the surface.
Breathing was good.
Eduardo managed to maneuver them to the side of the pool, where the water was more shallow.
The very second his feet touched the floor and he didn't have to worry about drowning anymore, he returned his arm to Mark's waist and pressed his mouth to Mark's.
It was his wettest kiss yet, what with them being in a swimming-pool and having been under water and that, their lips were a little cold and he had to pull away much too soon for air. It was also his best kiss yet.
He took a few deep breaths and was just about to lean in again, when Mark put a finger on his lips, to stop him.
“Wardo...” being this close to Mark and being unable to kiss him was torture. Eduardo had to physically restrain himself from not kissing him anyway.
Mark removed himself, who let him, feeling like something terrible had happened and he'd missed it.
He had no clue what was wrong and he was afraid of asking.
He wanted Mark back in his arms, but even more than that, he wanted Mark to be fine.
“Mark. Are you alright?” Mark had backed away and for a fleeting second he looked like he might cry, or maybe it was just all that water, Eduardo wasn't sure. For his own safety, he deemed it best to leave the pool as well.
He could hear the music booming through the walls, the smokers talking some distance away, but it seemed 'off', like it didn't concern him.
It was a struggle putting his trousers on wet legs, but Eduardo didn't even care, the button-up and jacket were easier and finally he was dressed. His underwear was wet and felt uncomfortable when he moved his legs, but Eduardo got satisfaction out of it, he felt like he didn't deserve to feel good after what had happened with Mark.
He started walking then, through the garden, around the house, down the street, down another street, homewards.
He'd come with Dustin, but he probably wouldn't even notice that Eduardo wasn't there anymore.
It was a good five mile walk, through badly lit streets, down the side of a busy motorway for about a mile and then more badly lit streets.
Whenever a car passed him, he felt a little panic, because of what could happen to him and how he felt that he deserved it. None of the cars stopped, no one bothered him, he arrived home safely.
He was relieved and disappointed in equal measure.
It wasn't very late, but his parents had gone to bed already.
Eduardo raided his father's liquor cabinet. His father owned quite an extensive collection of liquors. He took a sip out of every bottle, so his father wouldn't notice anything and by the end he was reasonably drunk.
It didn't make him feel any better about what had happened.
When he remembered how happy he'd been just two hours ago, he couldn't help but laugh, a loud bellowing laugh that quickly turned into violent sobs.
His head pounded when he woke up on the next morning, without any recollections as to how he had got into his bed.
He didn't want to go to work.
The amount of self-hatred he felt, coupled with his hangover, meant a serious threat for any customer who so much as looked at him.
There was no telling what he'd do if someone upset him: punch them or start bawling.
And then there was the possibility of seeing Mark.
It was only the constant nagging of his mother, who appeared five minutes later, that made him leave his bed.
Things didn't escalate from there.
He was close to throttling Dustin by the end of the drive and jumped out of the car the second it stopped, to get away from the stupidly grinning idiot, because if he heard another dick-joke, he was going to end Dustin.
The booth he was assigned to that day did nothing to improve his mood, it was called 'hack-a-thon'.
The customer pit on a pair of goggles that contorted their vision and then they had to fit objects through shaped holes, the fastest won.
It was statistically the booth with the most customer complaints.
Eduardo held up reasonably well for the first hour, only raising his voice twice at particularly stubborn customers, and he thought that maybe, just maybe, he would manage to get through this day and then maybe he could get Dustin to drive over him on his way home, so he never had to feel anything ever again.
Then Mark walked by and he lost it.
It didn't help, that all four of the current players were bickering like a bunch of five-year olds.
“Fuck off!” four heads turned to him, speechless.
“Seriously” he punctuated each word by throwing the coins back at them “Take. Your. Fucking. Money. And. Get. The. Fuck. Away. From. This. Booth.”
Three of them had the sense to obey at once. They scrambled to their feet, grabbed their money and retreated as fast as they could.
The last one however, he reminded Eduardo of Dustin, tried to argue.
“Look here Carnie guy: I paid good money and I demand that you let me play. Actually, seeing as the others left, it's fair to say I won. Why don't you just give a prize and I'll go?” his cocky grin disappeared, when Eduardo picked up the goggled he'd worn and snapped them in half in one smooth motion.
“Now, unless you want me to repeat that with your neck, you shut up and go. Now.” Eduardo was only half kidding.
Fingers slightly shaky, the man grabbed his money.
From a safe distance away, he turned and shouted “I'll complain to someone!” before hurrying away.
Eduardo didn't care.
He shut down the booth as quickly as he could and hurried in the direction that Mark had disappeared in.
Seeing him had settled it, Eduardo couldn't go on like this.
If there was even the smallest chance, that he could fix things with Mark, then he had to go for it.
He couldn't see Mark anywhere, his head start was too big and, despite it's crappiness, the fairground was fairly big.
Eduardo started asking his colleagues whether they had seen Mark.
After five fruitless minutes, Erica was able to help him.
“Mark was looking for Parker. I told him, that he's at the 'Brazilian roller-coaster of emotion'. There was an issue with seatbelts and this one lady...” but Eduardo wasn't listening anymore. As soon as he had a direction, he set off.
Erica shook her head at him.
When he arrived at the roller-coaster, there was no sign of Mark, but there was a tool-box, that indicated that Parker had been there not too long ago and what was more, he couldn't be far.
The guy in charge of the booth, a quiet blonde named Chris who didn't talk much, pointed underneath the construction “They went back there, far as I know, but I wouldn't get involved if I were you. They seemed pretty, er, emotional.”
Eduardo thanked him and completely ignored his advice.
So far he had successfully managed not to think about what he was doing, but as he looked around between the wooden planks that held up the rails of the ride, he couldn't help but do just that; think.
Which proved disastrous for his will to move. He stood rooted on the spot, not daring to go on, but also completely unwilling to go back.
He was also slightly worried for his health, because from down there, the ride looked anything but up to safety standards.
“Are you saying you can't do this anymore?” it was Sean Parker's voice and it was close.
Eduardo's legs, unwilling to move just a second ago, carried him closer to the voice on their own accord.
“Yes. I'm starting to really fucking hate myself, you know?” Mark's voice. He sounded lost and so, so sad.
Eduardo peeked around the next aggregation of wooden beams.
Parker had his back to Eduardo and had his hands on Mark's shoulders. Mark had covered his face in his hands.
“You want to end this?” Parker asked softly, stroking Mark's shoulders lightly and something fell in place in Eduardo's head.
He must have been blind not to notice it before: Mark and Sean fucking Parker had a thing going on.
That explained a lot, from Parker saying that Mark was a “nice guy” in a weird way, to Mark not wanting to kiss Eduardo. It all made sense.
It was like a punch to the balls, a practice Dustin was very fond of. He didn't hear Mark's whispered “yes” over the sound blood pumping in his ears. His hangover made a spectacular comeback and Eduardo felt like he might vomit any second.
“Mark. I'm very disappointed. I thought we had something special going on here” Parker's accusing tone made the bile rise in Eduardo's throat, and when Sean's hands trailed down Mark's chest towards his waist, he couldn't hide away anymore.
He stepped out in the open and walked towards them. They turned to face him when they heard his footsteps on the gravel.
Sean dropped his hands, like they'd been burned. Now that Mark had taken his hands off his face, Eduardo could see the tears in his eyes, that were open wide with panic.
“Wardo? What are you doing here?” his voice was slightly high-pitched and his hands fumbled with the hem of his 'games'-shirt.
“Eduardo? Hi, good to see you man. Right. I gotta go. See you later guys.” he stalked away hurriedly.
Eduardo ignored Sean's words.
Sean didn't matter. Mark did.
He felt angry, hurt, sad, but when Eduardo addressed Mark, his voice was soft.
“Mark? Is this the reason” he waved his arms around to express 'why you didn't want to kiss me' without actually having to say it”I just...you could have told me.” it wasn't supposed to sound accusing, but Mark took it that way.
He started crying.
Without thinking, Eduardo closed the distance between them and closed his arms around Mark.
Mark shrank back at first, but after a second he slumped against Eduardo's chest.
“It's okay Mark. Don't cry. You're alright. It'll be fine. Please, don't cry.” Eduardo kept whispering in Mark's ear, until the tears stopped.
Mark snaked his way out of Eduardo's embrace and took a step backwards.
Rubbing his eyes furiously, he started talking “I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry, Wardo. I didn't want to fuck this up, but I did and now everything sucks and it's my fault. I...I'm sorry. “ his voice sounded raw, broken, he had shadows under his eyes and Eduardo wondered, if he'd slept at all last night.
Eduardo looked at Mark, who looked like hell, but was still the most appealing sight he'd ever seen, who had an affair with a married man, he didn't love Eduardo, but he was still Mark. All his feelings were still there, unchanged and his highest priority was still Mark's happiness.
He rested an arm on Mark's shoulder and tried to sound confident “We'll fix this. I'm sure there's a way. Is it Parker's wife? Don't worry about her, we can figure something out.”
He wasn't sure how, but he was going to make things alright for Mark and then he would be the pathetic friend, who waited at Mark's feet for any scrap of affection Mark was willing to give him.
It wouldn't be enough, could never be enough, but it would have to do.
“Wardo” Mark sniffed “what the hell are you talking about?” his brows were furrowed, but he made no move to shake the arm off, which Eduardo took as a good sign.
It didn't help, that he still wanted to run his hands all over Mark's body, kiss him, lick the tears away...
“Wardo?” Eduardo snapped out of it. “Sorry, Mark. I'm sure we can fix things with you and Parker. Whatever the problem is. You'll be fine.” he rubbed little circles on Mark's shoulder with his thumb.
It might just be his imagination, but he felt like Mark had to make a conscious effort not to lean into the touch. Wishful thinking probably.
“Wardo” Mark's voice was barely audible and his eyes were quickly filling with tears again “What are you talking about? I don't want Parker. I thought you, …. I'm an idiot. Shit. I'm sorry. I gotta go.” he turned around quickly and tried to walk away.
Eduardo didn't let him.
He grabbed Mark's right wrist and held onto it.
“You're not going anywhere until you explain” and because that felt a little too forceful, he added a soft “please”.
Mark stood very still.
“Don't make me say it” he all but begged, without turning around.
Eduardo kept his right hand around Mark's wrist and rested the left one on Mark's shoulder. It was a gesture of comfort, a means of preventing escape and using, what he felt, might be his last chance to touch Mark.
“I'm your friend. You can tell me anything.” the words came from Eduardo's hear.
Mark didn't react visibly, but his shoulders started shaking, as he tried to suppress the sobs.
Eduardo closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around Mark's shoulders. He rocked gently from side to side, like his mother used to do with him, when he'd had a nightmare.
Mark pressed back into Eduardo's arms and let himself be comforted. They remained like that, until a few minutes later, Mark started speaking.
“The thing with Parker. It's been going on for, I don't know, the beginning of summer really.” Eduardo's grip tightened imperceptibly and he closed his eyes, like that would make Sean Parker disappear. Mark continued, gathering speed, like every word he uttered lifted a weight off him.
“He said he was trapped in his marriage. His wife, Christy, she's very jealous. He couldn't even talk to other women without her flipping her shit. She once set fire to his guitar, because he started talking to a woman in front of her.
And then he met me and he I said I made him feel free and, well, his wife doesn't get suspicious when we spend time together. See? He never told her he was bi.
And then you came into my life. You are probably the coolest, nicest guy I've ever met and I started to really like you. And then you kissed me. You looked at me like, I don't know. Like you liked me."
Eduardo's breath caught in his throat.