aroceu: (ship captain)
black slacks with accentuating offwhite pinstripes ([personal profile] aroceu) wrote2017-06-10 10:01 pm

Do You Ever Wonder, Because

Summary: In which there are naps, bad pancakes, Red Vines for dinner, and Legos. Oh, and Mark magically turns into a five year old for some reason.

Char/Pair: Eduardo/Mark

Genre: romance/slash, humor

Rating: PG-13, despite the presence of an actual five year old in this fic

A/N: Dedicated to my favorite trope EVER, and also towards the end dedicated to that time I went to Singapore. Was also almost titled "Four Men and a Baby," but I convinced myself not to.



Eduardo stopped in his tracks when he heard Chris and Dustin on the other side of the door. It wasn't that they were talking that caught his attention - it was what they were saying.

"This can't be happening," Chris was moaning. "Today of all days - "

"The universe hates us," Dustin agreed grimly. "Mark wouldn't like this."

"Mark doesn't have a choice." Chris sounded thoroughly put out - that meant that this was a real problem, then. "Especially with Eduardo - "

Eduardo figured that that was his cue to interrupt. He rapped two knuckles on the door and opened it. "What's up?" he said. The conference room Chris and Dustin were in was next to the one that the shareholders' meeting had been in - Eduardo had been talking to an investor, and doubled back in order to avoid running into him again.

Chris and Dustin were looking at something in a chair, and immediately stood in front of it the moment Eduardo came in. "Nothing," Chris said innocently.

Eduardo gave him a look. "You know I can tell when you're lying," he said, trying in vain to see what was in the chair. "What's going on here?"

"Nothing's going on," Dustin said, shifting in front of the chair more pointedly.

Eduardo approached them, and Chris turned the chair with him so that Eduardo was still only facing its back. "What's new with you, Eduardo?" he asked.

Eduardo sighed. "Let me see what you're trying to hide."

"We're not trying to hide anything," Dustin said.

That was when a baby's wails erupted in the room.

Eduardo was faster than Chris or Dustin - he spun the chair around, and was greeted with the sight of a child, five years old at most, sitting up with the mark of the leather seat pressed into his face, a mop of curly hair on his head, and red-faced. Immediately Eduardo caved into his instincts and picked the kid up, while staring hard at Dustin and Chris, who looked uncomfortable.

"Why are you trying to hide a child from me?" Eduardo said dangerously. A thought occurred to him. "It's not mine, is it - "

"No," Chris said quickly, though Dustin snickered. Chris shot Dustin a glare. "It was - Mark was - "

Eduardo's mind kept leaping to ridiculous conclusions, but he said, "This is Mark?"

Despite the incredulity of the situation, Chris and Dustin nodded.

"He was napping after the meeting," Dustin said, "don't look at me like that, Wardo, I can't control his sleep schedule - after the meeting, but then he fell asleep before Chris or I were even out of the room, and then he turned into a kid!"

"This is insane," Eduardo said. He was now bouncing up and down with Mark in his arms, who was sniffling and rubbing at his nose, looking upset.

He looked at Mark in his arms. Mark was still adorable after he woke up, though when he was a kid it was more in an adorable-kid way, not an adorable-guy-who-metaphorically-stabbed-me-in-the-back-but-I-still-want-to-kiss-him way.

Mark blinked up at him and said, "Where's my mommy?"

"Oh," Dustin went, and even Chris's expression softened.

Eduardo tucked a curl behind Mark's ear and said, "I'm - Is it okay if I take care of you for a bit, Mark?" He wondered painfully if he really would need to call in Mark's parents to take care of - whatever this was.

"He can be your mommy for a bit," Dustin said, hunching over Mark.

Chris whacked him. "Ow!" Dustin said, while Mark watched him curiously. Mark giggled in Eduardo's arms, which immediately made Eduardo smile.

Dustin grumbled as he rubbed the spot where Chris had hit him. "Of course he's still a little sadist," he said.

Mark turned to Eduardo. His blue eyes were big and watery, but Eduardo met them - he didn't expect Mark to trust him especially if he retained any of his present memories, or at least feelings.

But Mark said, "Okay," and Eduardo said, "Good."

*

Of course, nothing with Mark could ever go easy, which was why as soon as Eduardo exited the room along with Chris and Dustin, they were met face to face with Sean Parker.

"Hey Wardo!" Sean said with the same amount of arrogance and friendliness that Eduardo hated. They hadn't spoken in years. "What's up - who's the kid?"

"No one," Eduardo said, making to shove his way past Sean. "Nothing."

"Who's that?" Mark piped up curiously, looking over Eduardo's shoulder as Eduardo began to walk away.

Eduardo didn't answer him; but Sean prattled behind them and went, "I'm Uncle Sean! Yo, Dustin, is that the secret kid Mark keeps talking about"

Eduardo spun around at this. "Mark has a secret kid?"

Sean cackled. Chris sighed and said, "No."

"I was joking," Sean said, elbowing Eduardo. Eduardo hated him so much. "Seriously, though, why does he look like he could be Mark's kid?"

Eduardo, Dustin, and Chris all exchanged a look.

And Eduardo was sure that none of them were going to say anything - himself and Chris at least - but then Mark said, "That's my name. My name's Mark."

Sean's eyes got huge. "Holy shit," he said, and Eduardo covered one of Mark's ears with his free hand. "No way. Did Mark turn into - "

"Yes, Sean," Chris said, looking pained. "Now can you let us go so we can take Mark home - "

"Or at least to a fortune teller," Dustin said, peering curiously at Mark. "Or the local magician."

Sean shook his head, and tagged along as the three - well, three plus Mark - made their way out of the offices. "No, guys, you need me. I'm the only one who knows Mark's daily routine these days."

"Yeah?" Eduardo challenged. "And why's that?"

"'Cause we're bros, duh." Sean made his way in front of them and made grabby hands towards Mark. "C'mon, let me hold him."

Eduardo eyed him warily. But Mark wasn't squirming away, and though it would be heartless to leave a child in the hands of Sean Parker, Mark was watching him curiously and that resentment that still abided in Eduardo's stomach wanted him to deserve whatever chaos this would inflict, just a little bit.

Still, he asked Mark, "Do you want Uncle Sean to hold you?"

Mark looked up at him and nodded.

"'Uncle Sean,'" Sean said gleefully. "My legacy. Come here little Marky."

He less lifted Mark from Eduardo's arms as much as Eduardo kind of dumped Mark into Sean's hold. Mark didn't complain, though; he had absently stuck a thumb into his mouth, and let Sean adjust his arms around him.

Sean held him tight, which was good - though not in the right way, which irritated Eduardo - and poked his nose. "You're a cute little fella, aren't you?" he said, to which Mark giggled.

It made Eduardo more annoyed than soft-hearted at the sight of Mark smiling up at Sean. "Okay, that's enough," he said to Sean. "Give him here, you're not holding him right."

"I'll learn," Sean insisted.

Eduardo gave him a look - and maybe he meant it to be menacing because Sean cowered and caved in, though no one would be able to prove Eduardo's intents later - and got Mark back into his arms.

Chris looked between the two of them. "Are we done here?" he said. "So you're going home with Sean and Mark, Eduardo? Because Dustin and I have actual work to do."

"I don't have to do work," Dustin said.

"Yes you do." Chris pulled at Dustin's ear and Dustin complained again.

"Yeah, I'm going to Mark's house with Wardo," Sean said, before Eduardo could properly respond. "We've got to take care of Mark together."

"We do not," Eduardo said, with his teeth gritted.

Chris began to pull Dustin away by the ear, and waved behind to them. "Have fun!" he said, as Dustin whined.

Mark said to Eduardo, as Eduardo and Sean began to make their way to the elevator, "Why do you hate Uncle Sean?"

Eduardo gawked.

Sean said, "Yeah, why do you hate Uncle Sean, Uncle Wardo?"

Mark squinted at him. "Mommy says it's not good to hate people," he said, before frowning and looking down at his palms. "Though I really want to sometimes. Especially when some of them look at me funny."

Eduardo's insides could crumble. Sean just looked pitying, so Eduardo turned Mark away from his expression as they got into the elevator. "I know the feeling," he said to Mark. "But Uncle Sean is - " He didn't want to fuck up Mark and Sean's friendship, loath as he wanted to admit it. "Uncle Sean and I don't get along a lot," he said.

"We're kind of like your mommy and daddy," Sean put in.

Mark frowned at Sean. "My mommy and daddy get along," he said.

"Yes," Sean said, "but we're your new mommy and daddy now - "

"If I'm supposed to be the mommy in the situation," Eduardo said to him, "then leave me out of the metaphor."

Mark looked at him with wide eyes, but he giggled again.

Okay, so Eduardo couldn't resist when Mark was so cute every time he laughed. "Why do you find everything amusing?" he said, grinning down at Mark, who just giggled some more.

Mark just shrugged at him.

Sean said, "He sure is adorable, isn't he? A real looker when he was a kid." He turned mock wistful. "What happened, Marky?"

"He's still a looker," Eduardo mumbled, as they made their way to the car.

Sean was, annoyingly, Eduardo's GPS since Eduardo didn't know where Mark lived. Sean didn't give him any details about where Mark lived, exactly, when Eduardo asked for details, and just said "I'll tell you where to go," which made Eduardo increasingly distrustful with each passing minute.

They got to Mark's house eventually, though, and as Sean pulled a pair of keys from his pocket, Eduardo asked, "Why do you have keys to Mark's house?"

"You know how many times I need to crash here?" Sean rolled his eyes as he led them inside. "We're home," he called to the house.

"We're home!" Mark mimicked, shouting.

This made Eduardo worry. What if Mark as a child began to imitate everything Sean did? "Don't do what he does," Eduardo said, letting Mark down and bending down so he was eye level with him. "Usually."

Sean scoffed. "I make excellent life decisions," he said.

Eduardo whispered to Mark, "He doesn't." Mark just giggled some more.

They made their way into the kitchen. "Okay," Sean said, opening and closing doors in a way that drove Eduardo nuts. "So what's first - food?"

Both he and Eduardo looked over at Mark, who was wrapped up in the hoodie he'd been wearing. Mark nodded, and climbed onto a chair at the table. "I'm hungry," he said.

"Naturally," Sean said, as Eduardo began mentally going through all the baby food he's ever had to buy for his cousins. "Let's see - oh here!" He pulled out a package of - to Eduardo's great despair - Red Vines.

"Your favorite," Sean said to Mark. "Want some?"

Mark nodded.

"No," Eduardo said, before Sean could pull out a strand of licorice for the literal child who hadn't had a thing to eat since he'd been a child. "You are not giving Mark Red Vines for lunch."

"This isn't lunch," Sean said. He looked at the kitchen clock. "It's the three o'clock hour. This is usually Mark's red vine time."

"I want red vines," Mark whined from the table, swinging his legs.

Eduardo looked between the two of them. "He's hungry," he pointed out to Sean. "He needs something real to eat before he has red vines. Okay?" he called over to Mark. "Real food first, and then red vines."

"Red vines are real food," Mark complained.

Sean said to Eduardo, "You know this is Mark, right? He doesn't have real food in his house." He glanced over to where Mark was looking at a picture of himself and his sister on a decorative table in the corner with interest. "Let alone food for kids."

Eduardo sighed. "I know," he said. "Do you want to go out and get something?" He was resigned to having to work with Sean on this. "I'll look after him."

"Oh, you trust me now," Sean said, grinning. "Yeah, I'll get some food. Chinese?" He looked at Mark, who was just watching them expectantly. "I'll take that as a yes. Still vegetarian? Wait, nah, he was just a vegetarian this year. Okay I'm going," he added, to the expression on Eduardo's face. "I'll try not to crash your rental car."

"Not funny," Eduardo bit out.

Mark let out another giggle - and as cute as it was, it was also slightly worrisome when he was laughing at Eduardo being annoyed. As soon as Sean left, Eduardo kneeled down with him, looking Mark in the eye.

"Hey," Eduardo said. "I know you're adorable, but you can't laugh at everything, you know."

Mark pouted at him. "Why not?" he said.

"Because," Eduardo said, and tucked that wayward curl behind Mark's ear again. "Because sometimes people are hurting, and you can't laugh at them." He met Mark's eyes and said, "It's not funny when other people are hurt."

Mark brought his thumb between his lips, and then shrugged. "Okay," he said, though he avoided Eduardo's eyes.

Eduardo was used to that, at least - in Harvard (and, well, during Facebook) Mark avoided confrontations with him. "Okay," Eduardo said. He looked down at Mark, who was sure to be comfortable in wearing only an adult men's hoodie draped over his body, but couldn't exactly run around like this. Eduardo knew that he himself ran around a lot when he was a kid.

"I'm going to ask Uncle Dustin to get us some clothes," he said. "Want to play video games while we wait?"

Mark lit up at this. "Video games!" he said excitedly. "What video games?"

"Let's see." Eduardo went into the living room, where adult Mark was predictable and had a Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation3 set up. "What do you want to play?"

Mark shrugged, so Eduardo found Mario Kart and demonstrated how to play.

Mark busied himself with the video game as Eduardo called Dustin to get kids' clothes - Eduardo estimated the size - and then despaired a little, now that he was mostly alone and by himself. Eduardo was okay at raising kids, and handling Mark even after all these years, and raising and handling Mark as a kid even after all these years. But it still wasn't easy to see him like this, playing Mario Kart and muttering, "Dang it," pretty audibly and jostling with the Wiimote.

Sean came back soon enough, with a bag of Chinese food in tow. "Lunch!" he crowed, entering the house. "Served by your Uncle Sean."

"Yay!" Mark said, immediately dropping his controller and running to the kitchen. Eduardo sighed and picked the controller up and put it on the table. Some things would never change.

Sean laid an assortment of Chinese food down on the table and said, "Okay, so we've got beef with broccoli, kung pao chicken, uh, some stuff with tofu here - and here's rice," he handed a box to Mark. "Go wild."

"He's not going to be able to finish all of this," Eduardo said, as Mark picked up a fork and eagerly started picking out things from the boxes to put into his takeout box of rice.

"Yeah, but he can eat it later," Sean said.

Mark was piling on broccoli and beef when a piece of beef fell to the floor. Mark didn't do anything about it, so Eduardo said, "Are you going to pick that up Mark?"

"Later," Mark said distractedly, poking at the chicken.

Eduardo stood in front of him, and said, "Are you going to remember to pick it up later, Mark?" When Mark didn't answer him, still getting food, Eduardo said, "Mark?"

Mark turned to him with big blue eyes. He was trying to manipulate him - Eduardo could tell right away, he'd done the same trick so many times when he was a kid. "Mark," he said sternly. "Pick up the food you dropped."

"But - " Mark went.

"It's not hard, is it?" Eduardo grabbed a paper towel and handed it to Mark. "Pick it up, Mark."

Obediently, Mark dropped his fork and picked up the stray piece of beef, before throwing them both into the trash can. There was still a stain, and Eduardo sighed and wiped that down.

"He's still good old Mark," Sean said to Eduardo cheerfully, who grunted and pressed a hand to his temple.

*

Dustin came in with the clothes, which were slightly too big for Mark after they'd put them on him, but would do. As soon as they'd got him in and Dustin had wished them good luck with far too much of an air of "better-you-than-me," Mark yawned.

"Oh," Eduardo said, and scooped Mark up. "Nap time."

"Little fella needs his beauty rest, doesn't he?" Sean said.

"I think I do too," Eduardo muttered. He was still jetlagged having flown in from Singapore for the shareholder's, and Mark clung to him as Eduardo carried him up.

"Don't go," Mark said, as if he instinctively knew that Eduardo didn't belong here.

Eduardo's heart did a funny thing, and he looked down at Mark. "I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I'll stay with you - make sure you don't fall off your bed."

Mark frowned at him. "I can sleep by myself," he said petulantly.

Eduardo opened up the doors down the hall - there were a number of guest rooms, but only one had clothes sprawled everywhere and a basket of dirty laundry. "Okay," he said, and let Mark into his room. "You can nap here. I'll be across the hall." He gestured to the guest room opposite of Mark's.

Mark nodded, so Eduardo shut the door behind him and went into Mark's guest room. He fell asleep nearly as soon as he hit the bed.

But it felt almost immediately after when he heard a scrabbling at the door and Mark, in all his two-foot tall glory, was peeking out from behind the door. "Can I join you?" Mark asked shyly from between the doorway.

Eduardo nodded, disoriented. Mark ran up with him on the bed and curled into Eduardo's arms; Eduardo checked the time on his phone. Only twenty minutes had passed.

"Do you sleep alone when you're with your parents?" he asked Mark, who had rested himself onto Eduardo's chest.

Mark nodded his head, but tucked his face into Eduardo's neck. "I want to stay with you, Wardo," he said. "I don't want you to go."

"I'm not going anywhere," Eduardo mumbled, before he fell asleep again.

*

Later in the afternoon, Eduardo had woken up with Mark still as a kid on his chest. Sean had resumed Mark's game of Mario Kart while they had napped, and then Chris and Dustin swung by, Chris bringing dinner for the four of them. Mark ate his Chinese food again, though Eduardo let him have a few bites of his Chipotle, but made sure Mark didn't get stuffed with food.

Afterward, Mark declared, "I want to play with toys."

Eduardo and Sean exchanged looks with Chris and Dustin.

"How about tomorrow?" Chris suggested, even though it was only six in the evening. "We can buy toys then."

Mark pouted. "I want toys now," he said.

"It's not that late," Dustin said gamely. "We can get him shi - uh, stuff."

"What kind of toys do you want, Mark?" Eduardo asked, because he agreed with Dustin but it was better not to vocalize that he disagreed with Chris.

Mark shrugged. "I like Legos," he said.

"Legos it is," Sean decided.

So against Chris's claimed better judgment, they went to Toys 'R Us, which Sean also for some reason knew the directions to. "I do babysitting, okay," he said to them, which Eduardo took at face value.

They found themselves in the Lego section. Mark was taken with all the variety of options and colors instantly - he ran over to every buckets for the make-your-own sets, and was awed at the big boxes displaying pictures of legs in the form of monsters, buildings, and cars. "How many can I have?" he asked them eagerly.

"Four," Sean said, the same time Eduardo said, "One."

Mark pouted at Eduardo. "I want four," he said, trying to do the puppy dog eyes at Eduardo again.

Eduardo patted his cheek. "That won't work on me, Mark," he said. "Find your favorite and we can get that."

"Okay," Mark said eagerly, and ran off.

Sean whistled as they look around. "Man, they really tricked out the Legos recently didn't they?"

"I could buy a set for myself," Dustin said, picking a box up. "Or for my niece. Or both."

"There's a Lego World, you know," Chris said. "We could just go there."

Eduardo crossed his arms. "We are not going anywhere," he said. "If this Mark realizes we're this close to Disney World, then - "

"Where is Mark, anyway?" Chris said, peering around Eduardo.

Eduardo swiveled around. There were only a couple of aisles dedicated to the Legos, but Mark wasn't in this one. "Mark?" he called, walking down. "I swear, I thought he was here - "

"You told him to look for a Lego set he liked, didn't you?" Dustin said.

"Yeah, but - " Eduardo said, and went into the next aisle over. Mark wasn't there, either. "Mark?" he called, panic rising to his throat.

"Okay," said Chris, looking like he was trying to be reasonable. "Let's calm down. Mark couldn't have gotten far, could he? He was just looking for Legos."

"Yeah," Eduardo exhaled, walking quicker as he turned into the Star Wars section.

But Mark wasn't there either; he was nowhere to be found when Eduardo, Sean, Dustin and Chris combed this section of the store, going between each aisle as fast as they could. Or, at least Eduardo did - Chris was looking increasingly agitated, Dustin was yelling Mark's name at high volumes, and Sean was going, "What if someone took Mark, what if they're the ones who turned him into a kid in the first place, what if they snatched - "

"Sean, shut up!" Eduardo bellowed, and Sean did.

Eduardo breathed through his nose. "Okay," he said. "Mark's missing. Now, if we were Mark, where would we go?"

"A Radioshack?" Dustin said wryly.

Sean shook his head. "He would criticize the way they do their IT help. I saw it once." He looked up thoughtfully. "Does he like stuffed animals?"

"Not enough that he'd get distracted by them," Eduardo said.

They passed a table that said that there was a demonstration of taking apart a Wii console, which ended just five minutes ago. Some people were packing up at the table, but the advertisement was still out. Eduardo's eyes strayed to it, and then he did a doubletake.

Going over to the employee who was still putting stuff away from the table, Eduardo asked, "Did you see a little kid with curly blond hair just now? Wearing shorts, ye height?" He motioned by his own knee.

The employee shrugged. "Sure. He asked me where the games were."

"Thanks," Eduardo said, and then called over to Dustin, Sean and Chris who were looking through another aisle. "Guys! Over here!"

They rushed, finding Mark hunched at the corner of the end of the aisle the employee had pointed Eduardo to. Mark was cowering in the corner, hands covering his face, scrunched up like he was crying.

"Mark?" Eduardo said, noticing how red Mark's face was right away. "What's wrong?"

Mark pointed. On the aisle opposite him, the string for where a Wii was supposed to be displayed was dangling. The console itself had fallen to the ground and broken into a few disjointed pieces.

"I didn't mean to!" Mark cried, as Chris went over to inspect the damage. "I was just looking - "

Eduardo sighed, and patted Mark's cheek. "It's fine," he said, and brushed that annoying curl out of Mark's face again. "But you scared us, okay? Don't do that again."

"I was looking at video games," Mark mumbled, scuffling his feet.

"I know that," Eduardo said. "But we don't want you to get lost, right? We get scared when we can't find you."

"I wasn't scared," Dustin said, as behind them Chris was talking to an employee about the damage to the Wii. "Your Uncle Dustin is as brave as a lion!"

"You got terrified when we watched the Ring," Sean pointed out.

"That was because Mark kept talking in hypotheticals! Not you Mark," Dustin added, to the Mark who was clinging to Eduardo's trousers. "A, uh. A different Mark."

"Okay," Eduardo said, and turned to Mark, who was just watching Dustin with curiosity. "Anyway, how about we get you some Legos? Did you find something you liked?"

Mark nodded, and then paused. "Can I have video games instead?"

"I'm pretty sure you already own all the games for all the consoles you have," Dustin said, as they made their way out of the aisle. "You're rich, dude."

Mark's eyes widened. "I am?"

"Don't say that, Dustin," Eduardo said. "Mark, you have just enough money as you need."

"Said the little rich boys," Dustin grumbled as they went back over to the Legos.

*

Mark talked about how much he was going to play with his legos when they got home, but as the car ride went on, he was getting more and more visibly sleepy. Sean teased him about it from the front seat (how he managed to secure the passenger seat next to Eduardo, who was driving, was beyond Eduardo's knowledge) and Mark tried to protest, "I'm not tired," but it was through a yawn.

The rest of them chuckled, and Mark didn't seem to have the energy to whine any further. He curled up against Dustin, resting his head on his shoulder, from what Eduardo could see through the rearview mirror.

Dustin flapped his arms excitedly, though not enough to actually disturb Mark. "Look! He's so cute," he said.

Sean had turned around in his seat. "Mark sure is a cute kid," he chuckled.

"I am not, Uncle Sean," Mark mumbled sleepily against Dustin.

"You totally are," said Chris. He looked at Eduardo up front. "So what are we doing now that Mark's a kid? Should we call his parents?"

"Um," said Eduardo, who had been trying not to think of it all day. "That would alarm them, wouldn't it? And we're stressed enough as it is." He set his eyes back on the road so he wasn't staring at Mark's tiny little head rested against Dustin's arm. "We've got enough stressed adults as it is."

"We could call them in like, a week," Chris said. "If this doesn't blow over."

"Mark's just magical, I guess," Dustin said.

Sean snorted. "What a lame magic power. If I was magical, I'd want to be something useful. Like fly."

"I'd prefer it if you were invisible," Eduardo said.

"Oh snap," Dustin said.

Sean merely shrugged. "Sure, then people can't spy on me. It'd be pretty cool."

"I just want the power to change Mark back to normal," Chris sighed.

They got to Mark's house, and since apparently they were all taking care of Mark at once, they each took a guest room. It was kind of creepy, Eduardo thought, since the owner of the house was a little kid and they were all occupying their own room in his house. It got even weirder when Mark clung to Eduardo's hand the whole time as they diverted into their respective guest rooms.

"You wanna sleep with me again?" Eduardo asked, and Mark from where he was sucking his thumb nodded. Eduardo sighed. "Okay. Guess I'll sleep in your room then."

Mark's room looked basically how his college dorm had looked - clothes scattered everywhere, the occasional language book (Eduardo spied Portuguese and Mandarin) lying facedown and spine up, and a few smartphones taken apart, apparently just because. Mark heaved himself onto the bed and waited expectantly as Eduardo dragged his pants off so he was in his button-up and boxer briefs.

It occurred to Eduardo that this was the first time he was taking his pants off in front of Mark, and tried not to think about it too hard. "We gotta go to sleep, okay Mark?" he said to Mark, who nodded and made room on the bed for Eduardo.

Eduardo shut the light off and joined him. Mark immediately curled his face into Eduardo's shirt, clinging to the fabric like he didn't want to let Eduardo go.

"I missed you," Mark mumbled, sounding on the verge of unconsciousness.

It wasn't a kid kind of "I missed you" - it sounded too real for that. "I missed you too," Eduardo murmured, and tried to fall asleep.

In the morning, Eduardo woke up to Mark half splayed over his body - and still a kid, annoyingly enough. Mark wasn't exactly light weight, so Eduardo gently lifted Mark off and shook the feeling back into his bones.

Mark stirred, and Eduardo helped him up and brush his teeth, though both of them were confused at adult Mark's electronic toothbrush. They came down to Dustin, Sean, and Chris, apparently already awake and sitting in Mark's kitchen.

"We smoked without you last night," Chris said in a low voice, as Sean showed Mark an array of bagels he could choose from. "Sorry."

Eduardo shook his head. "It's alright."

"Yeah, man," Dustin said, eating his own bagel. "I mean, what are we supposed to do when our boss spontaneously turns into a kid one day? Not smoke?"

"Daddy says smoking is bad for you," Mark said from munching on his bagel.

All four of them glanced at each other. Then Eduardo said, "Of course. Anyway, Mark, what do you want to do today?" Eduardo's flight out was early in the afternoon, but he figured that they could distract him and he could slip away before Mark noticed.

Mark shrugged, swinging his legs on the chair. "I dunno," he said. "More video games?"

"We could go shopping for more clothes for him," Chris suggested. "He can't just wear the same things every day."

Both Dustin and Sean groaned; Mark wrinkled his nose and said, "I hate clothes shopping."

"Okay," Eduardo appeased. "What if we went out so Uncle Chris can go clothes shopping while we look at more toys?"

Mark lit up. "Toys!"

"It's decided then," Eduardo said.

"I'll bring baby carrots as a snack," Chris said, looking into Mark's fridge and in fact finding baby carrots. When Dustin shot him a look, Chris added, "What? I have to keep up my reputation of being the reasonable one."

"At least bring the red vines," said Sean, stealing into Mark's pantry.

*

Taking Mark to the Stanford Shopping Center seemed to be a good idea; there were families everywhere, and no one batted an eyelash at the four of them crowded around an excited Mark. They found a toy store eventually, and dragged Mark away to eat lunch for an hour before letting him loose again on the kid who Mark was explaining rather precociously to about why Yu-Gi-Oh! cards were inferior to Pokemon cards.

It was nearing one pm, when Eduardo had to go, so he said to goodbye to Dustin and Chris, and begrudgingly even Sean, who was eating Mark's baby carrots and red vines. Sean said, "Take care - you could do work in helping with kids, you know Saverin."

"I don't think so," Eduardo said, glancing at Mark for what felt like every other second so he didn't disappear from their sights again.

Sean shrugged. "Whatever you say, man. You've got a way with Mark." He peered around Eduardo with consideration. "Though that could just because he's Mark."

Eduardo glanced at Mark with him. "Yeah," he said.

Then Sean went in for a handshake, which was the last thing Eduardo was willing to put up with before he started away. "See ya around Saverin," Sean said, as Dustin and Chris said their own goodbyes and Eduardo started away.

Eduardo only got so far down the block when, like it was right next to him, he heard Mark demand, "Where did Wardo go?"

The others must've said something to him in a calmer voice, but Mark's volume increased. "Where's Wardo?" he shouted.

And Eduardo could only walk so fast until Mark had found him and caught up with him, grabbing his hand. "Wardo," Mark said, forcing Eduardo to look down. "Where are you going, Wardo?"

"I have to leave," Eduardo said painfully. "I have to go to Singapore."

"You're leaving?" Mark's eyes went big - he wasn't messing with Eduardo this time, Mark would never be able to make himself tear up like that.

Eduardo avoided his gaze. "I have to go back to my work," he said to Mark.

Chris, Dustin, and Sean had caught up with this point, looking at Eduardo with pity. Mark said, "But I like you best."

"Wow." Dustin clutched his chest. "I am hurt."

"Don't go, Wardo," Mark insisted.

Eduardo looked between the three of them, feeling helpless. "Why don't you stay with Uncle Sean?" he said.

Mark shook his head - fair enough.

"Uncle Dustin?" Another no. "Uncle Chris?"

"Uncle Chris is boring," Mark mumbled.

"I'll take that as a compliment," Chris grumbled, and Sean patted him on the shoulder.

"Well," Eduardo said, feeling desperate. "It's not like I can just take you to Singapore with me, is it?"

"You could," Dustin pointed out. "You have the money."

Eduardo sent him a look. "Thank you, Dustin."

Mark continued looking at him with those big eyes, though. His thumb was stuck in his mouth, and as much as Eduardo wanted the adult Mark to have him gone, to be left with nothing, to miss him as much as Eduardo had been missing him all these years - he couldn't do that now. Not just to Mark as a kid, but with all the old feelings back, Eduardo didn't know how to say no.

"You want to come to Singapore with me?" he asked, and Mark nodded, and that was how Eduardo booked a last minute plane ticket for Mark Zuckerberg to Singapore.

*

Eduardo thought Mark might be antsy on the plane like Eduardo had been when he was young. But Mark was surprisingly complacent, completely enraptured by the screen in front of him for half the flight, dead asleep for the other half. By the time the sixteen hours were over, they had landed in Singapore, where it was midnight and Mark was staring out of his window in wonder.

Eduardo wasn't sure how memories worked with this weird - age difference thing, but when he asked Mark if he'd ever been out of the country before, Mark had shrugged like he didn't understand the question.

They went through customs and eventually out of the airport, Eduardo found his car in the parking lot - Mark was staring openly at everything - and then eventually they made their way to Eduardo's apartment.

Eduardo knew that there would be jetlag, but still he tried with Mark: "You must be tired, right?"

Mark shook his head. "I was sleeping on the airplane," he said to Eduardo, with his usual air of I think you're an idiot that Eduardo was so used to. It was weird when Mark was giving it to him when he was barely two feet tall though.

Eduardo sighed. "Yeah, that's what I thought," he said. "Me too. But everyone else is asleep and we can't do much."

"I can explore," Mark said eagerly, looking around Eduardo's apartment.

"There's not a lot here," Eduardo said, but figured they should be okay since he had locked the door. "Don't get lost this time."

"I won't!" Mark had already taken off as fast as his little legs could take him as he browsed the place.

Eduardo sighed, then checked the time and did the math. It was daytime in Miami, late morning, so he picked up his phone and selected an entry from his contacts.

"Eduardo!" his mother's voice said after the second ring. "What are you doing awake?"

"I just got back from California, mae." Eduardo rubbed the bridge of his nose between his fingers but smiled all the same.

His mother tutted. "Of course. Were you okay? Was it alright?"

"I'm fine," Eduardo assured her. Then, wincing as he knew it wouldn't help, but, "Mae, do you have any advice for taking care of a five-year old?"

"What!" his mother demanded. "Edu, did you have a child and not tell me - "

"No, no," Eduardo said quickly. "It was - " He thought of the first lie he could come up with. "I'm babysitting Mark's kid for a while - "

"Mark - ?"

"We're friends again!" Eduardo burst. That felt like a lie too, but - not really. "We're friends again and I'm, um, looking after someone for him, and, please just don't ask any more questions Mae, I just need some advice."

His mother was silent for a long minute on the other end. Eduardo figured he deserved it.

Finally, his mother said, "Did you buy him clothes?"

"Yes."

"And you know what he likes?"

Eduardo thought back to Mark's diet at Harvard. It shouldn't be that different, aside from the copious amounts of beer. "Yes."

"Take him to the park. Show him around the Marina Bay." His mother's voice immediately got suspicious. "This isn't permanent, is it, Edu - "

"No," Eduardo said quickly. "I just - I'm doing a favor."

"You and Mark haven't adopted a son together - ?"

"Bye Mae," Eduardo said loudly, and hung up at the same time Mark burst from the hallway, apparently having explored his share and returning to the living room.

He was watching Eduardo with interest. "Who were you talking to?"

"My mom," Eduardo said.

Mark nodded solemnly, like he understood. "You love your mom," he said, like he knew.

"I - yeah." Eduardo decided not to question it. Clearly some things Mark knew as an adult had carried over to his transformed memories. Eduardo idly worried if the things about Facebook would remanifest - but decided not to worry about it.

He crouched down to be eye level with Mark, and said, "Hey, when everyone's awake, how about let's go to a park? I can show you Tiong Bahru."

"What's that?" Mark asked, following Eduardo who had gotten up and over to the kitchen, suddenly hungry.

Eduardo looked in his freezer - he had some ice cream, and it was one in the morning, and he didn't have the energy to care right now. "It's a popular park," he told Mark. "Ice cream?"

"Yes!" Mark said immediately, going to Eduardo's side to see the strawberry ice cream that was inside.

Eduardo gave him a look. "What's the magic words?"

Mark rolled his eyes like the little brat he was. "Please," he said, and Eduardo grinned.

*

Even though they were both jetlagged, Eduardo knew that Mark still needed his afternoon nap, which became a nap at four in the morning that Mark had insisted Eduardo join him for. Eduardo couldn't sleep, though, so he dawdled on his computer as Mark napped against his leg, since Mark had wanted Eduardo to be on the bed with him.

When Mark woke up again, he rubbed his eyes and said, "I want pancakes."

Eduardo shut his laptop and tried to figure out what to do. "Well," he said. "I don't have pancakes, but we can have something else for breakfast?"

Mark shook his head stubbornly. "Pancakes," he said again.

Eduardo sighed. He'd never made pancakes from scratch before - he was willing to try, but not in the situation where the tiny little monster that was five-year old Mark was going to be his judge. "Okay, let's see," he said bravely, and led them out to the kitchen, Mark trailing behind him.

Eduardo did have flour from when he occasionally baked, and after he looked online he realized that he had all the ingredients (or at least good enough replacement ingredients.) "Okay," he said to Mark. "I'm going to do my best, but if they're bad, you have to be nice to me, okay?"

Mark looked up at him in confusion. "They won't be bad."

"Oh, they might be," Eduardo chuckled, beginning to make the pancake mix and leaning over his laptop for the instructions. "But like I said - you can't laugh at me."

Mark immediately giggled. Eduardo swiveled around and pointed at him mock threateningly. Mark giggled again, and quickly covered his mouth like he was trying to pretend he wasn't.

Eduardo's pancakes weren't terrible, but he'd certainly had better. Mark was being pointedly kind to him, though, going, "Mm, these are the best pancakes I ever had," and patting his stomach with his exaggeration.

Eduardo poked his tummy from where he was sitting next to him. "Sorry I didn't have syrup."

Mark shook his tiny little head. "I get to eat with my hands," he said, because he'd asked Eduardo if he could and Eduardo had let him. "Mommy never lets me do that."

They ate their breakfast - well, to their bodies something between a lunch and a dinner - and once Eduardo had gotten his dishes loaded, he looked at the time. It was late enough, so - "Mark, wanna go to the park?"

"Okay," Mark said, nodding, and they went outside and Eduardo hailed a cab.

When they got to Tiong Bahru, Mark's eyes went big at the play train centrepiece. "Wow," he said to Eduardo. "Does that stay up?"

"Yep," Eduardo said. The middle of the park was a large crooked train that kids could crawl through; Eduardo had been here with some friends and their kids before.

"Can I go play?" Mark asked him, and Eduardo nodded. Mark ran up the plaything, and Eduardo watched with trepidation as Mark managed to not fall over.

Eduardo sat back on a bench as Mark played. He was surprised at how well-behaved Mark was - though Eduardo figured that Mark's actual personality came through when he went through puberty, and then forward. He'd always seemed to have a good relationship with his parents, though; he'd called them nearly every week at Harvard (or else they would call him, to which each Dustin, Chris, or Eduardo would pick up Mark's phone, and all had done so at least once, so it had become an incentive for Mark) and Eduardo didn't doubt that Mark still maintained the habit, even if everything else in his life was a total trainwreck. Eduardo didn't envy him, really, but his own experience was different - if he called either of his parents, they usually (correctly) assumed something was wrong, unless it was a birthday or a holiday.

Mark climbed close to the edge of one of the train carriages, breaking Eduardo out of his reverie. "Mark, be careful!" he called, to Mark who met his gaze and changed carriages. Eduardo breathed out a sigh of relief.

He watched as Mark busied himself with doing whatever it was he was doing - and then at one point he was talking to one of the other kids, which was going fine until one of the kids burst into tears. Eduardo and a man who appeared to be the kid's dad immediately went over to them respectively.

Mark looked annoyed. "I just told him that Santa's not real!" he said to Eduardo, while the kid continued bawling.

"Baba," the other kid was saying. "Santa's real, isn't he?"

"Of course he is," said the father soothingly.

"No he's not," Mark said immediately. He looked at Eduardo. "Wardo, Santa's not real, right? You're a grown-up, so you're not allowed to lie."

Eduardo and the dad shared a pained look. Then Eduardo climbed into the carriage with Mark - he could barely fit, but if he ducked his head and bent down he would squeeze through - and said, "Come on, Mark, let's leave them alone."

Mark frowned but led the way as he and Eduardo crawled through until they were on the railing outside. Then Eduardo sat down, and Mark joined him.

Eduardo said, "Sometimes you need to say things the nice way, Mark. I know you're a very smart kid - " he ruffled Mark's curly head " - but you have to be responsible for what you're trying to say to others, you know?"

"I just wanted to be right," Mark mumbled.

Eduardo nudged him, and then ducked in close. "You are right," he said to Mark conspiratorially, which made Mark giggle. "But some kids aren't ready to hear certain things, okay? Their parents will tell them - you don't have to."

Mark frowned, but said, "Okay. I think I get it."

"You do?" Eduardo was relieved. He was so sure he was fucking up at this temporary parent thing.

Mark nodded. He stuck his thumb in his mouth. "I don't celebrate Christmas, anyway," he said. "All my friends do."

"Well, you're in luck," Eduardo said, offering his fist out for Mark to bump. "Neither do I."

Mark went back to playing, and Eduardo went back to the bench.

A nearby mother leaned over and asked him, "The curly one's yours?"

Eduardo nodded. The mother pointed out her own kid, and then sighed. "They grow up so fast, don't they?" she said.

"Yeah," Eduardo said, wishing Mark would grow up a little faster and return to his normal self. Who knew what this would do to Mark's temporary development, and Eduardo knew Mark as a five year old was way more impressionable than Mark as a twenty-five year old.

The mother turned to him. "So, did he get his mother's hair then?" she asked, looking pointedly at Eduardo's hair.

Eduardo hurried to answer, "No - um - he's - we - "

But at that moment, Mark, on the same edge of the railing as before, was standing - and the next moment, he'd fallen onto the sand. Eduardo ran over to help him up, but Mark seemed to be fine on his own, wiping sand off, unscathed.

Still, Eduardo couldn't help shouting, "Mark! What did I tell you?"

Mark looked up at him - and the next minute, Eduardo found himself being clutched around the waist, Mark sobbing into his trousers. Baffled, Eduardo managed to prise Mark's fingers off of him, and bent down, wiping the tear tracks on Mark's red cheeks.

"I-I'm sorry Wardo," Mark sniffed.

"Hey, hey, no," Eduardo said, rubbing at Mark's hot cheeks. "It's alright. I shouldn't have yelled."

Mark shook his head. "I-I didn't mean to make you angry," he said, and sniffled again. "I don't want you to go."

"Go? I'm not going anywhere." Eduardo wrapped his arms around Mark, and tried to feel painfully like this wasn't a metaphor for anything. "I'm sorry Mark, I shouldn't have raised my voice like that."

Mark continued sniffing, and his skin still felt hot against Eduardo's neck. It occurred to Eduardo suddenly that Mark could get sick, especially if his immune system had reverted or whatever since becoming a kid.

"What do you say we go back home?" he said to Mark, pulling him back. "Is that okay?"

Mark nodded.

They headed back to Eduardo's apartment. When they were back inside, Eduardo rested his hand against Mark's forehead again, though he couldn't tell if it was a real fever or Mark's face was just hot still from crying. Mark had clung to Eduardo in the car, so Eduardo was just carrying Mark again, eerily similar to the first time Eduardo had seen him.

He seemed awfully tired, too, so Eduardo said, "How about we sleep?" and Mark nodded. Eduardo found some pajamas from the clothes Chris had bought for him, and helped Mark change into them. Then he found the Red Vines they'd brought, and since Eduardo still felt bad for shouting, decided to give one to Mark before he slept too. What the hell, Eduardo wasn't going to be a perfect faux guardian for Mark forever.

Mark gnawed on it happily, looking progressively sleepier despite the sugar. "Ready for bed?" Eduardo said, when he was done.

Mark nodded. Eduardo guided him to his bedroom, where Mark waited until Eduardo joined him on the bed. Then Mark said, "Goodnight Wardo."

"Goodnight, Mark," Eduardo said, yawning.

He told himself he get up and do work once Mark fell asleep so he wouldn't get jet lag either - but mere seconds later, and Eduardo was asleep, too.

*

Eduardo woke up to the sound of scrabbling in his kitchen. He shot up for a moment, before realizing that Mark wasn't in bed with him, so it had to be him.

Getting up, he called, "Mark, are you hungry?" He crawled out of bed, and scrubbing at his face - he really did mean to do work today - managed to make his way out.

And in the kitchen, in all his five foot eight glory, was Mark Zuckerberg - the adult version of him, wearing Eduardo's only hoodie and a pair of Eduardo's pajama pants and munching on a snack from the pantry. He spun around at the sound of Eduardo's voice, eyes wide, shrimp chips still in his hand.

Eduardo couldn't help it. "This is going to be so inappropriate," he said to Mark, but then he was two feet, one foot, six inches away from him, his hands on Mark's face, and kissing him.

Mark half laughed into his mouth, and the whole ordeal was very properly disgusting. Eduardo spluttered as he dragged his mouth away.

"That was completely your fault," Mark said.

"It was," Eduardo agreed.

But then Mark was going, "Hold on," and grabbed one of Eduardo's clean cups by the sink, poured some tap water in it, drank it down, and said, "Okay." Then he was determinedly grabbing Eduardo's waist with one hand, the other going to the back of his neck, eyes searching Eduardo's.

Eduardo kissed him eagerly this time, glad that Mark was - Mark - that between it all there was something that Eduardo now understood. When they pulled back again, breathless, Mark was pink-cheeked and happy - and Eduardo was sure he looked the same.

"So," Eduardo said. "Mind telling me why a kid version of you kept telling me you were afraid of me leaving?"

"Thought I made it pretty clear." Mark's hand was wrapped at the base of Eduardo's neck, and Eduardo had never felt so giddy in his life. "I'm wondering why you kept sleeping with me so much."

"Fuck off," Eduardo laughed, hitting Mark in the shoulder. Mark beamed. "Why did you sleep after the shareholder's conference, anyway? You're only supposed to nap that much when you're a kid, obviously."

Mark shrugged. "Tired. Probably didn't get enough sleep the night before." He looked away. "And you in the room always made me..."

Eduardo waited. When Mark seemed to get that Eduardo wasn't going to say anything until Mark actually finished his thought, Mark said, "... miss what I never had. You know how it is."

"I do," Eduardo said, and then kissed Mark again. "I'm just glad you're back, really. I hope nothing we do defaces the memory of you for the past couple of days."

"We should find out," Mark said, before dragging Eduardo to his bedroom.

*

Later, Mark said, from Eduardo's bed, "Shit. I don't have my laptop."

Eduardo laughed delightedly. Mark looked grumpy, and said, "Wardo - "

"Yes, you can use mine." Eduardo wasn't going to even fight him on it. "Although I always wanted to show you the Marina Bay Sands."

"You can." Mark had already crawled out of bed, and discovered Eduardo's laptop in the study room across the hall. He came back into the bedroom, and Eduardo typed out his password for Mark to use. "But we can do that later."

"After you check Facebook?"

Mark smiled at him. "After we make up so you don't have to think about me as a kid anymore."

"That's good enough for me," said Eduardo, and settled next to Mark with content.