isthisthelasttime: ((TSN) what now?)
[personal profile] isthisthelasttime
Title: Can’t get your memory off of my mind
Rating: PG-13 (barely)
Pairing: Mark/Eduardo (implied)
Summary: He sighs deeper, realizing that when Mark told him he wasn’t coming back to Harvard, he fulfilled his own prophecy. He left Eduardo behind.
Word Count: ~1,500
Note: I felt like if I didn’t post this now, I’d never post it. Wrote it Sunday night, left it to marinate. Not even sure it has a plot, but here you go. Title from “The Haunting” by Anberlin.





Harvard’s in the full swing of things in October.

Eduardo hasn’t seen Mark in two months and it’s weird being in Cambridge without him around.

It’s not that he’s miserable. His schedule’s great and he doesn’t even have Friday classes. For once he can call himself an upperclassman and not feel like he’s cheating someone of a title. And girls actually flock to him now that Mark’s not at his side all the time (though that could actually be a combination of Mark’s absence and his membership in the Phoenix, where girls eat out of his hands left and right).

He should be happy within the gates of an institution older than its country, three thousand miles away from all things facebook.

But all those things he should be are never the things he is. His father can attest to that.

+

Eduardo has a roommate now. Before the semester began, the housing office offered him the same room from the previous year, but Eduardo denied it, requesting instead a double. He didn’t think he could live on his own anymore, not when he was constantly plagued by the ghosts of his not-so-distant past

(hooded jackets, knotted curls, sticky sheets, invisible grins, stifled moans of markmarkmark)

and so he contacted Brennan, a fellow Economics major he’s known since freshman year. They put in a mutual request and now they’re sharing a two-room suite in Eliot, windows overlooking the courtyard.

(At least twice a day, Eduardo passes Kirkland and has to avert his gaze. If he doesn’t, muscle memory will act and lead him up the steps to the building’s front door. It’s hard, after walking this same path every day for a year, to train his legs not to do what they were once so accustomed to doing.)

Brennan’s a nice guy. He never intrudes or makes a lot of noise. If he’s in the living room watching TV, he’ll put the volume low enough so only he can hear the words and so Eduardo can only hear the TV’s hum. On the weekends, he brings back girls for both of them. By the end of the night, their bedroom doors are locked and even with a girl in his arms, Eduardo can’t stop thinking.

He wishes he’d done the whole roommate thing from the beginning. He probably wouldn’t be where he is now, in love with the least sentient person on the planet.

+

It’s past eleven at night and the water beneath the bridge is pitch black. Occasionally, white foam wraps around rocks to break up the running water’s dark façade. Eduardo’s been staring at the Charles for so long that he doesn’t even notice it anymore.

There are other places he could be right now. He could be on Mt. Auburn Street, holed up in a smoky, dark room playing strip poker, or he could be at an AEPi party, stirring the bad punch with a ladle.

He could also be in a dorm room across campus where this girl he met a few nights ago lives. She’d promised him unbarred entry and a no-questions-asked policy that made his head spin at the time.

But none of those places sound appealing, so he’s on the bridge, vaguely wondering how crazy he’d have to be to dive into the murky depths of the river.

Mostly, he’s thinking about Mark again. It’s a common occurrence, happening at least six times a day, but he can never make himself stop it. Suddenly, now seems like a fantastic time to give him a call.

The phone rings for twenty seconds before the automated voicemail picks up, announcing the 914 area code that Eduardo doesn’t think Mark will ever change. After almost six months on the west coast and decidedly moving facebook to Palo Alto for good, any normal person would change their phone number to reflect their new residence but Mark’s never been a normal person. He’ll probably have the same number for the rest of his life, just for familiarity’s sake.

Or just to be a nonconformist.

Eduardo doesn’t leave a message. It’s eight in California. Mark’s probably still coding, even though it’s been an hour since the office closed. A missed call should be notice enough to call Eduardo back.

Sighing, Eduardo sets his cell phone on the weathered brick and hangs his head. He catches a glimpse of a couple walking away from him, the girl’s hand pressed firmly into the guy’s back pocket and the guy’s arm wrapped possessively around the girl’s waist.

He sighs deeper, realizing that when Mark told him he wasn’t coming back to Harvard, he fulfilled his own prophecy. He left Eduardo behind.

+

At three A.M., Eduardo’s phone’s shrill ringtone echoes in his room. He tumbles onto the floor in an attempt to silence it, entangled in sheets like he just fell into a movie scene, and when he answers the call, “Hello?” all he can hear is his breath mirrored back at him.

Five seconds later, a simple “hi” is his response. Mark.

(rough fingers, dark eyes, chapped lips, warm skin)

That fucker.

“Mark. Man. It’s late.” He pushes himself to his feet and staggers over to his bed. Cradling the phone between his shoulder and cheek, he rubs one hand across his eyes and the other down his thigh.

“I’m returning your call,” Mark says. In the background, Eduardo picks out the squeak of rusty springs and distant, muffled laughter. “I can always call you tomorrow.”

“I have class at eight, Mark. I shouldn’t even be awake right now.”

“We don’t have to talk, then. I can call you tomorrow.”

“It’s midnight on the west coast. It’s three here.”

“I forget about time differences.”

“If you called more, maybe you wouldn’t.”

Mark doesn’t say anything for a long time. Eduardo shakes his head at himself, smacks his forehead and lies back with an arm draped over his eyes. Thing is, he knows he’s right. Time wouldn’t be an issue if Mark weren’t such a distant person – literal distance aside. If Mark would just let Eduardo in, everything would be so much simpler.

But nothing with Mark can ever be simple. Eduardo exhales. “So did you just get back from the office?”

“No, I got back two hours ago.”

“And you just now decided to call me?”

“Yes.”

“Does the term ‘missed call’ mean anything to you at all?”

“Wardo, if you had left a message telling me to call you back as soon as possible, I might have called you sooner. As it is, at least I’m not busy at the moment and you actually have half my attention.”

Sighing, “Where’s the other half?” he slips his hand under his shirt and scratches his stomach. Goosebumps rise on his skin.

“I don’t think that question deserves a serious response.”

Eduardo can’t help the laugh that escapes him. “Well, I miss you.”

“At least someone does.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just glad to know you do, Wardo.”

“You make no sense whatsoever.”

“You’re employing too much logic for someone who just rolled out of bed.”

“I guess you’re right.” A smile stretches Eduardo’s face so wide it hurts his cheeks. It’s too late for bright smiles but he can’t really help this one. “But be embarrassed that I, who woke up five minutes ago, can find the holes.”

“Well, no, because you’re rested. I’ve been coding all day. My brain has turned off its prefrontal cortex and I’ve now got alcohol in my system.”

Eduardo’s face immediately relaxes. “Is that why you’re calling me?”

“No. I was just going to say –” Mark’s voice sounds distant for a moment as he audibly shifts around, “that I still think you should come to Palo Alto.”

“You needed liquid courage for that?”

Mark’s sigh is barely noticeable in his words. “I know you’re miserable out there on your own. You should transfer to Stanford if you really want to finish your degree and work for facebook in your downtime. Tell me that’s not a good idea.”

“I appreciate you looking out for my wellbeing, Mark, but I’m not,” Eduardo says, closing his eyes tightly. If only Mark would put things more nicely.

“Not what?”

“Not miserable at Harvard.”

“You told me you missed me.”

“I do miss you but that doesn’t mean I’m miserable. I was miserable in New York when I missed you but I’m not miserable in Harvard while missing you. It’s just a matter of your absence weighing on me.”

“That’s sweet, Wardo, but my absence wouldn’t weigh on you if you were in California.”

“That’s not gonna happen, Mark. This is Harvard you’re asking me to leave for Stanford. Are you insane?”

“There’s nothing wrong with Stanford.”

“Stanford is not what my father wants – it’s not what I want.”

“You both want Harvard?”

Eduardo freezes. He’s tempted to say, “I want you,” but it’s not the time for that. Not the place either. He can’t go to California just to be somewhere near Mark. Instead of answering, he sighs and hopes Mark can maybe read into it.

“I think you don’t want to get left behind.”

A few seconds after Mark says it, Eduardo ends the call, turns off his phone and rolls onto his back. There’s only so much obliviousness he can stand before he gets tired of it.

(reluctant hellos, garbled declarations, missed words, hurried goodbyes – )
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March 2011

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