Fandom: Crossover The Social Network which belongs to Columbia Pictures and The Pacific which belongs to HBO. I took the character Merriell "Snafu" Shelton and stuck him into the TSN universe. Due to this, he is OOC.
Characters/Pairings: Dustin/Snafu, Mark, Eduardo, Chris, Christy and Sean.
Rating: FRM for explicit language and mention of sexual contact.
Word Count: 8439
Spoilers: The Social Network film. Absolutely none for The Pacific.
Summary: Dustin meets Snafu at a party, and they begin a relationship. The rise of Facebook as seen through Dustin's eyes as he juggles his work load and his boyfriend.
Notes: This had started out as a drabble to satisfy my needs for Snafu/Sledge, but I didn't want to write use the backdrop of the war. I figured Dustin would be the best Mazzello character to pair Snafu up with. Then, next thing I knew, I had written fourteen pages. So I went back, started trying to form a storyline, and then wrote the ending.
Around Beer Number Five was when he sauntered over next to Dustin. He grinned as he handed him a new drink before leaning in to say, “I haven’t seen someone toss back that many in so short a time since I left Louisiana.”
“Then I guess you haven’t observed many college kids,” Dustin retorted. He inspected the drink because okay, maybe the guy was hot, but the last thing Dustin wanted was to be roofied when Chris was nowhere to be seen.
“That’s funny. You’re funny,” the guy said his lips turning at the corners. “You caught me. I’m new here. Just transferred in this semester.”
“Congratulations,” Dustin said sarcastically.
“You know, I’m sensin’ some hostility, and I don’t really fuckin’ appreciate it. If ya don’t wanna talk, just say so.”
“Sorry,” Dustin muttered. “I guess I’m not at my best right now.”
“Still managed to catch my eye.” The guy set his cup down and clasped Dustin’s hand vigorously. “Name’s Snafu.”
“I’m Dustin. What kind of name is Snafu?”
“Well, what kind of fuckin’ name is Dustin?” Snafu asked, but there wasn’t real malice behind it.
Dustin laughed, finally easing up. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right.”
“So Dustin,” Snafu drawled as he lit up a cigarette. “Tell me about yourself.”
“Who?” he asked after grabbing a water bottle. He shuffled over to the couch and joined Chris, who was paging through a magazine.
“Merriell? About this tall. Dark, short hair. Accent. Probably cursed a lot.”
“Oh, you mean Snafu,” Dustin said as the night before came back to him with a sudden clarity. He had spent the rest of the party talking to Snafu and drinking at least twice as much as he had before. It was a miracle he didn’t have alcohol poisoning. “His real name’s Merriell?”
“Yeah. No one in the GSA has questioned the nickname yet. We just call him Merriell. He doesn’t seem to mind either way.”
“I kind of like Merriell,” Dustin said, water dribbling down his chin. He realized he still had on his clothes from the party.
“Oh my God, Chris said. He threw his magazine down and turned to Dustin. “You’re in love.”
“What? No. Dude, I just met the guy.”
“Yeah, and you two love birds sat alone and talked all night. Dustin, what if you found your soul mate?”
“Since when were you a hopeless romantic Chris? You have got to stop reading those gossip rags.”
“And you have to stop denying your love. Did you get his number? Oh wait. I have everyone from the GSA in my phone. I’ll get it for you, and you are going to call him and ask him out.” Chris grabbed his phone from the table and began scrolling through his contacts.
“Isn’t there, like, a three day rule?” Dustin asked as he gestured with his water bottle.
“It’s true love Dustin. Why wait?” Chris handed Dustin a piece of scrap paper with a number scribbled on it. Dustin shoved it in his pocket.
“Fine. I’ll call him later. I think you’re the one that needs to get laid, though.”
“S’better be good,” Snafu mumbled on the other end.
Dustin suddenly felt as if there were butterflies in his stomach as it flip-flopped upon hearing Snafu’s voice. Alright, so he did like the guy.
“It’s, uh, 3 p.m.”
“Exactly my point. How are you not still hung-over?”
“Lots of water I guess.”
“Still snarky when sober. I like that. Lemme call ya back after I empty my stomach, get something back on my stomach and get dressed.”
Snafu hung up before Dustin could answer. He started at his phone questioning why he was seriously considering going out with this loud-mouthed, crude Southerner. He began replaying the previous night through his head. The way Snafu listened to Dustin talk about coding as if he were truly interested. How he insisted on refilling Dustin’s cup for him. Saving Dustin’s spot when he went to the bathroom. Underneath the tough guy act there was considerate and kind person. Dustin was brought out of his trance when his phone rang.
“That was fast.”
“I couldn’t keep ya waitin’, could I?” Snafu said. “So, I was thinkin’ coffee would do me a world of good. Meet ya at the Starbucks on the corner of Main?”
“Sounds great,” Dustin replied.
He looked himself over in the mirror before going out to the living room. He didn’t want to overdress; it was just coffee, right? A plaid button up shirt, the sleeves rolled up to the elbow, and a pair of khakis seemed appropriate attire, but Dustin quickly realized that he was as far from laid back as possible. Mark was on the couch typing away as was usual. Chris and Eduardo were in the middle of attempting to actually cook in the kitchenette area. Dustin cleared his throat to get their attention.
“How do I look?”
“No offense Dustin, but since when have you cared how you look?” Eduardo asked as he chopped some onions.
“Since he has a big date with his soul mate,” Chris said casually. “And you look perfect Dustin.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Dustin mumbled. “We’re just going to get coffee.”
Eduardo set down his knife and looked at Dustin credulously. “Wait, so who’s your soul mate now?”
“No one. It’s this guy I met at the party last night.”
“It’s Merriell Shelton,” Chris answered. “You met him once Wardo.”
“What kind of name is Merriell?” Mark asked, pulling off his headphones and joining the conversation.
“What kind of fucking name is Mark?” Dustin said with a smile, remembering Snafu’s comeback as he snuck out the door.
“He’s already a bad influence on our innocent and impressionable Dustin,” Eduardo said resuming his chopping.
“I think they’re cute together,” Chris said.
“Oh my God. Please shut up,” Mark moaned, rolling his eyes and turning back to his laptop.
“Sure as hell took your time,” he said as Dustin sat down. “Didn’t know what to get ya, so just ordered for myself.”
“That’s okay. I’ll get something when the line dies down.”
“No, you tell me what ya want,” Snafu said, persistent. “I am the one who asked you here, aren’t I?”
“So this is a date?” Dustin blurted out before he could stop himself.
Snafu smiled as he got up and walked around the table before leaning down to whisper in Dustin’s ear. “Yeah, it’s a date. Now, what do ya fuckin’ want?”
“Black coffee. Lots of sugar.”
“Sweet just like you. Got it.”
Dustin blushed as Snafu went to get in line, and began fidgeting as countless scenarios ran through his mind. What if he blew it? What if Snafu, now sober, realized what a dork Dustin was? What if he had never liked Dustin and this was all some kind of cruel joke?
“You’re cute when you look worried,” Snafu said when he returned.
“Is it that obvious?” Dustin asked as he slowly sipped his coffee.
“Yeah, really obvious,” Snafu said laughing, his head tilting back. When he laughed the sound boomed in the small coffee shop. “You wanna know what isn’t obvious, though?”
“I like you for some reason, so stop freakin’ out and enjoy yourself.”
“Well, I hope you don’t mind if it takes me awhile to accept that,” Dustin said, but he did feel as if he were calming down.
Snafu reached across the table and rested his hand on Dustin’s. “I think I can wait.”
“I figured it musta been important to keep ya away from me,” Snafu said.
Dustin laughed. “Yeah, it was to help a friend.”
“Hey no cheatin’ now. Leave that to me.”
“Is it too soon to say I missed you?” Dustin asked shyly.
“Hhmmm… naw. I don’t think so. You wanna get dinner tonight?”
“Yeah, I mean, yes. I’d love to.”
“Where am I pickin’ ya up?”
Dustin smiled wide at the thought of Snafu wanting to pick him up. “I live in Kirkland.”
“Kirkland. Got it. Be ready at seven. Seven’s good?”
“Seven’s fine,” Dustin said, and they talked a little longer before hanging up. He went out to join the others who were in the middle of a game of Mortal Kombat.
“Old school? Cool,” Dustin said settling down and grabbing a controller.
“So?” Chris asked as he knocked Mark out.
“Fuck this,” Mark muttered and walked away.
“Alright, I’ll admit it. He’s my soul mate,” Dustin said blushing slightly.
“You can’t be serious,” Eduardo said. You’ve only known him for how many days, man.”
“I’m humoring Chris.”
“But you actually like him?” Chris asked. “I’m so happy for you.”
“Congratulations,” Mark said sarcastically.
“And a big thanks to you too Mark,” Dustin mumbled.
Eduardo mouthed ‘Still upset about the whole Erica slash Facemash debacle’ or something along those lines. It wasn’t like Dustin was a lip-reading expert. He leaned back and mindlessly pushed the buttons on the controller, counting down the minutes until seven.
“I’m trying to imagine you as a history teacher,” Dustin said once he was able to control his laughter. “All I can see is you cursing at the children.”
“Yeah, well, fuck you Dustin.”
“Okay, so maybe ya have a point,” Snafu said, his mouth full. “I’m a bit vulgar.”
“And a lot crude.”
“But you’re putting up with me, so I can live with it.”
“We balance each other out,” Dustin said.
“Don’t speak too soon. I’ll have you cursin’ like a sailor eventually,” Snafu said with a wink and Dustin blushed. “Oh, now who’s crude? I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Uh, excuse me,” Dustin said as he tried to get the waiter’s attention. “Can we get the checks please?”
“No, one check.”
“Snafu, I can’t let you. You already got me coffee.”
“But I want to pay,” Snafu said quietly. He already had his wallet on the table, counting out several bills. “You can return the favor in other ways.”
“Oh, and ‘cursing like a sailor’ was you not being crude. Right.”
“Are ya gonna keep talkin’, or are we goin’ back to my place?”
“Your place, definitely.”
They walked towards Snafu’s dorm in silence at first, Snafu glancing over at Dustin occasionally, his eyes sparkling under the streetlights. Dustin cracked his knuckles nervously before lacing his fingers with Snafu’s. He breathed a sigh of relief when Snafu didn’t make a joke about the gentle gesture. Instead, he gave Dustin’s hand a quick squeeze before leading him up his building’s stairs and to his room.
“I’m actually a Southern gentleman,” Snafu said as he locked the door and grabbed two beers from the fridge.
“Thanks.” Dustin twisted the cap off before taking a tentative sip. “You’re a gentleman, yes. I kind of gathered that from you always insisting on paying. You didn’t have to point it out. You don’t hide it well.”
“No, what I’m sayin’ is… this is only our second date. So nothin’s gonna happen tonight. I mean, I’d like to kiss ya, but other than that, I thought we could just watch a movie.”
“Oh yeah. That’s all… It sounds perfect,” Dustin said. He smiled, the idea of Snafu wanting to take it slow tied his stomach in knots, but it felt good. “I am down for kissing and a movie.”
“In that order?” Snafu asked as he backed Dustin up against the arm of the couch.
“Either works,” Dustin whispered, his lips merely an inch from Snafu’s. He leaned up, kissing the corner of Snafu’s mouth softly. Snafu hummed in the back of his throat before circling Dustin’s torso with his arms, leading him to sit while licking his way into Dustin’s mouth. They ended collapsing on the cushions, Snafu on top of Dustin, laughing into the kiss.
“Crushing me?” Dustin asked. “Very gentlemen like.”
“Did I tell ya you’re funny yet?”
“Once or twice, you might have mentioned it.”
“Let’s watch that movie.”
“Wow, I never would have guessed,” Dustin replied with a laugh. “If you’re asking if you need to provide for me, don’t worry. I’m going over Snafu’s.”
“Well, that’s what we were going to ask,” Eduardo clarified.
“We want you to invite Snafu over,” Chris said. “So we can all hang out.”
“Oh my God you guys. You’re acting like you’re my parents.”
Mark came shuffling out of his room. “You should hear them when you’re gone. They go on and on about how much you’ve grown.”
“Good to see you back among the living,” Chris mumbled. “Coffee?”
“Eat something first Mark,” Eduardo suggested.
“But you’ve both met Snafu before,” Dustin said trying to get the conversation back on track.
“Not after he started corrupting our Dustin,” Eduardo said ruffling Dustin’s hair.
“Okay, I’ll ask him if you two promise to stop acting like my gay dads.”
“Hey, I make no guarantees,” Chris said. He set out the coffee for everyone and cleaned up his mess. Then he disappeared out the front door.
Dustin picked up his phone and texted Snafu.
roommates wanna hang with us. ok with u?
aw and i had a romantic night in planned. yeah, that’s ok.
next time babe ;)
“You’re smiling. What did he say?” Eduardo asked.
“He said yes.”
“I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about you pestering me to meet my significant other,” Mark said sipping his coffee before shaking his head and adding even more sugar. “I guess something good came out of that whole debacle after all.”
“Yeah, after you got academic probation and made all the girls hate us, the straight guys,” Eduardo bemoaned.
“Sucks to be you,” Dustin said.
‘So Merriell, what are your intentions with our Dustin?’
‘Are you going to treat him right?’
Snafu played along by playing up his Southern charm, and Dustin felt tempted to shake his fist at the sky as he declared he’d never go hungry again.
It wasn’t even 10:30 by the time Mark and Eduardo were arguing as they often did when they both had consumed more alcohol than they should have. Chris had taken a few more shots claiming he wasn’t drunk enough to deal with them and then promptly passed out on the couch. Dustin decided then that it would be socially acceptable to sneak off to his room with his boyfriend.
“So, uh, does this count as the third date?” Dustin asked as Snafu licked a stripe up his neck.
“I guess it could,” Snafu said, his words muted by Dustin’s collar as his lips moved south. “Why?”
“Because I’d like… oh God, I want…”
Snafu had popped open the first few buttons on Dustin’s shirt and was teasing the skin above his collarbone with sharp little bites. “Ya have to tell me what ya want. I can’t read minds.”
“I want to suck you dry,” Dustin said, and he could feel the blush reach his ears.
His hands framing Dustin’s face, Snafu leaned in and kissed him softly. “Are ya sure?”
“I wouldn’t have said it otherwise,” Dustin mumbled already regretting it. He was awkward when interacting with others as it was, let alone the given situation. He used his energy and humor to cover it up because, unlike Mark, Dustin did care how others perceived him. Snafu tilted his chin up forcing Dustin to look at him.
“Hey now, don’t get like that. What’re ya all flustered about? I ain’t turnin’ ya down. I told ya, I’m a…”
“Yeah, a gentleman.”
“And as such, I like to go slow when I like the person, but if you’re offerin’..”
With a newfound confidence, Dustin pushed Snafu back on the bed and straddled his hips. “And I thought you were doing this because you didn’t like me.”
“Funny, I know.”
“I was gonna say ‘you’re hot when you’re bossy’, but funny works too.”
Dustin grinned as he quickly undid Snafu’s belt. They tuned out the sounds of Mark and Eduardo shouting over the sounds of simulated gunfire from the television set. Dustin followed through with is promise as they moved under the sheets. Kissing his neck, Snafu muttered between the press of his lips to sensitive skin, “Hope ya don’t mind me stayin’ the night.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Dustin said, sleep already taking over.
“I’m gonna need to borrow a coat boo,” he said waltzing into the room. “I had no idea it was that cold out there. Damn.”
“What in God’s name are you wearing?” Dustin asked. He slammed the door and trailed behind Snafu who had barged into the room Dustin and Chris shared.
“What the fuck?” Chris yelled. He had been in the middle of picking out his outfit for the party, so he quickly grabbed his blanket to cover himself. “Oh, uh, hi Merriell.”
“You should knock first,” Dustin said laughing. “So, as I was saying you have to help me convince him to dress up. He wants to just wear normal clothes. I tried to tell him that’s not in the Caribbean spirit.”
“I think Mer here dressed up enough for all of us,” Chris countered, pulling on a plain white shirt.
“Party pooper,” Dustin mumbled. He tried to ignore his stomach doing somersaults when he saw Snafu emerge from the closet wearing one of Dustin’s many outlandish Hawaiian print shirts and the coat he had asked to borrow clutched in his hands.
“Ya’ll ready to go?” he asked.
The three of them practically ran to the dorm where the party was being held, their breath leaving smoke rings showing the short cuts they took. The fraternity was nearly empty when they arrived making it easy to spot Eduardo at the bar. He tried to balance four cups as he danced over to them, the ridiculous hat he was wearing sliding off his head.
“I love the outfit Merriell,” he shouted over the music, his speech slurring slightly already. “Dustin, I see you made an effort. And Chris? I’m disappointed.”
“At least I don’t look stupid.”
“Don’t worry Wardo,” Snafu said. “Chris is wearin’ his coconut bra under the shirt.”
Eduardo tilted his head and looked closely at Chris’s shirt, the hat smacking Chris in the face. Dustin tried to hold in uncontrollable laughter. It was a miracle when Mark came to the party and led Eduardo outside.
“Okay, please tell me you think this party is lame too?” Chris asked.
“Lame? How could ya say that Hughes?” Snafu replied. He took Dustin’s hand and pulled him toward the dance floor.
“Oh no. Please don’t,” Dustin begged. “I’ll make a fool of myself.”
“There’s barely anyone here Dustin,” Snafu said, placing his hands on Dustin’s hips. “Just move to the music. Loosen up.”
“Can’t we just go back to Kirkland?”
“Not until ya dance.”
“I hate you.”
“Naw, ya don’t.”
Dustin smiled. “No, I don’t.” He rested his chin on Snafu’s shoulder, and the two of them moved slowly nowhere near matching the rhythm of the up-tempo song the DJ was playing. Once the song ended, they found Chris and let him know they were going back to the room. Mark and Eduardo were not outside of the building when they walked out into the cold. The temperature had dropped considerably since they ran to the party. Snafu zipped up Dustin’s coat against the wind.
“Thanks for lettin’ me borrow the coat,” Snafu said as they began the trek to Kirkland.
“Of course,” Dustin said. He linked his arm with Snafu’s, his hand joining him in the pocket. “I still can’t believe you wore that.”
“What would ya say if I told ya I’m not wearin’ anything under the skirt?” Snafu winked, giving Dustin’s hand a quick squeeze.
“I’d say you’re a tease.”
“Am not. I’m takin’ ya home, aren’t I? And when we get there, you’re gettin’ what’s underneath the skirt.”
“Quit it. S’too early to get up,” Snafu mumbled.
“I have to pee,” Dustin whined.
“Can wait,” but Snafu moved finally setting Dustin’s limbs free. Yet he did not allow him to get up, instead pulling Dustin close and kissing his nose. “Sleep more.”
Dustin couldn’t help smiling and leaning into Snafu’s touch. He knew it was early in their relationship, but he realized he would never tire of waking up in Snafu’s embrace. As much as Dustin wanted nothing more than going back to sleep while Snafu lazily pet his hair, there were more pressing matters at hand.
“I’ll only be a minute,” Dustin said extracting himself and hopping out of the too small bed.
Pulling on some boxers and a t-shirt, Dustin quietly closed the bedroom door and headed to the bathroom. He was intercepted by Chris who was lying on the couch staring at the ceiling.
“Hey, do you know why Wardo is passed out on the bathroom floor and Mark is researching social networking sites?”
“Sounds like any other Saturday night to me,” Dustin said carefully stepping over Eduardo.
“Is that Dustin?” Mark called from his room. “Tell him I need to speak to him.”
“So Dustin…” Chris said waving his hand.
“Yeah, yeah. I can hear him. Mark, keep it down. Snafu’s still sleeping, and I’m going back to bed. I suggest you get some sleep too. We can talk later.”
“This can’t wait.” Mark stuck his head out of his room. “Not when you see what I’m working on.”
“Let me guess,” Dustin mused. “A social networking site?”
“Is Wardo awake? Did he tell you?” said Mark.
“No Mark. You have a board covered in features from Myspace, Friendster… I can see it from here. It wasn’t hard to guess.”
“I take offense to that Dustin,” Chris piped up from the couch. “I didn’t guess it.”
“How hung over are you Chris?” Dustin asked.
“I think I’m still drunk.”
“All of you: sleep. We’ll indulge Mark later,” Dustin ordered.
“Now I’m taking offense,” Mark muttered. “I’m not even drunk.”
“Sleep,” Dustin reiterated and then went back to his room. Snafu was leaning up on one elbow and grinning wickedly.
“They’re awake?” he asked. “Shoot. There goes my plans for ya.”
Dustin groaned and climbed under the covers. “I thought it was ‘too early’.”
“Well, all that shoutin’ woke me up. What is Mark workin’ on?”
“They hate running stories about Harvard,” Chris said.
“Somebody at the newspaper will be a computer science major. Tell them that Mark Zuckerberg will do ten hours of free programming. Eduardo is CFO and owns thirty percent of the company. Dustin is Vice President and head of programming and his five percent of the company will come from my end. Chris is Director of Publicity and his compensation will depend on the amount of work he ends up doing. Any questions?”
“Yeah, who are the girls?” Dustin asked.
“Sorry. This is Christy and Alice,” Eduardo said quickly.
Dustin waved and Snafu possessively wrapped his arm around Dustin’s waist.
“You’re cute when you get jealous,” Dustin whispered before planting a sloppy kiss on Snafu’s cheek.
“This is why I don’t want him here,” Mark continued. “I need you focused. You’ll be helping me code features.”
“Is there anything we can do?” Christy asked.
Mark kept lecturing, outright ignoring Christy’s question. Snafu took the opportunity to pull Dustin into the other room. Dustin opened his mouth to protest, but Snafu spoke before he could.
“This book thing seems like a cool idea. A cool, time consumin’ idea. I’ll support ya if ya want to help Mark. I won’t promise I won’t complain ‘cause I will if ya choose computer stuff over me more than once. I just thought ya should know that.”
“What did I do to deserve you?” Dustin said. He gave Snafu a chaste kiss and tugged his arm. “C’mon. We’re missing our chance to tease Mark and Wardo about the girls.”
“This is really disgustin’,” Snafu said. He flicked Dustin’s foot and then collapsed on the couch.
“Chris is busy doing interviews with any paper that’ll listen to him,” Dustin explained. “He usually does all the cleaning. I’m sure after break we’ll get it livable again.”
“Speakin’ of break…”
Dustin hit save and turned to Snafu. “Mark and Wardo are going to New York for the week. Besides checking on the site every once and awhile, I am yours for the taking.”
“Good, though I would have taken ya anyway.” Snafu laughed although they both knew he was only half joking. Dustin was just as excited about The Facebook as Mark, but it meant most of his free time was spent programming. Snafu had been incredibly patient with him.
“Merriell, seriously. Thanks for, uh, putting up with this,” Dustin said blushing slightly. “Most people don’t get it. I understand it’s hard when your significant other spends more time staring at a screen instead of staring into your eyes.”
Snafu was suddenly interested with his hands resting in his lap. “It’s nothin’. I really… I really like ya Dustin. And hey. I only got upset once. I think I can do this.”
“I know you can. Okay, good. Hallmark moment over. I’m starving. Wanna go get some pizza?”
“Yeah, you look like ya haven’t had anythin’ besides junk food the past couple ‘a’ days.”
“Actually we’ll sit here if you don’t mind,” Dustin said sliding in the booth. “Hey guys.”
Snafu eyed Dustin who had thrown his arm around Christy before sitting next to Eduardo. “Ya two order yet?”
“We were just about to,” Christy said. She handed her menu to Dustin. He didn’t bother looking.
“Let’s get what you were going to order but double the size. So, what’s up?”
“I was telling Christy about the plan to go to New York,” Eduardo mumbled, and it was quite obvious that was not going well despite the front Christy was putting on.
“Wardo won’t let me come along. Dustin, tell him I wouldn’t be a burden.”
“It isn’t that,” Eduardo said. “You’ll get bored. We’re not sightseeing. We’re looking for investors.”
“What if I said I could set you up with someone you can’t refuse?” Christy raised her eyebrow, sipping her water quietly. She wasn’t going to tell them who it was unless they worked for it.
Eduardo sighed. “And who would that be?”
Dustin coughed as his drink went down the wrong pipe. “How do you know Sean Parker?”
“Christy, I don’t think seeing Sean Parker would be productive,” Eduardo said. “You don’t have to set up pointless meetings if you want to come. I just don’t want you bored out of your mind when you could be doing something fun for spring break.”
“Wait a minute,” Snafu said. “Who’s this Sean guy?”
Dustin clasped Snafu’s hand with his as he feigned disappointment. “Oh, Mer honey. Sometimes I forget you aren’t a dork like us.”
Snafu lightly kicked Dustin under the table. “I get that he’s apparently a big deal. What gadget did he invent?”
The three of them all locked eyes before turning back to Snafu as they said in unison, “Napster.”
Dustin spun in his chair hitting refresh every minute or so. The number of members was crawling steadily to their goal. Snafu let himself into the room, set a glass of water in front of Dustin and headed to the cage where the chicken was clucking away.
“My grand daddy used to have a chicken farm,” he said. “Chickens ain’t meant to be cooped up like this.”
Dustin stopped spinning as he doubled over in laughter, and Mark even smiled slightly as Eduardo groaned.
“What do you suggest I do? Let it run around the room?”
Snafu shrugged. “It’d be a start.”
“100,034,” Dustin said grinning like an idiot.
“Congrats guys,” Snafu said, and Dustin was practically beaming.
“100,000 members Wardo,” Mark said. “Tell me you’re on for California now.”
“Wait, what’s goin’ on with California?” Snafu asked.
“Are you part of this company Merriell?” Mark said coolly.
Snafu stood up quickly and yanked Dustin from his chair, causing it to roll into the desk. He dragged him out into the hall and slammed the door. “What is goin’ on with California?” Snafu repeated.
“Mark wants to move Facebook out there for the summer,” Dustin explained meekly.
“Why is he doin’ that?”
“It was something Sean said. You know, the Napster guy? He said that California is the place to be or something. Mark seems to think he’s God or whatever, so he thinks it would be a good idea to set up some make shift offices in a house while we expand to colleges out there.”
“And would ya be goin’ with him?”
“I’m the vice president. I have to.”
“No, ya don’t have to do anythin’ ya don’t want to. Do ya want to go? Not because it’s a commitment to Mark.”
“Yeah, I kind of want to go. This is big Mer. I never realized it would blow up like this, but I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s just the summer,” Dustin said hoping he sounded reassuring. “I mean, you’d be going home as it is, so I thought there’d be no harm.”
“Did ya even fuckin’ think of discussin’ it with me first?” Snafu demanded. Dustin had never seen Snafu look so furious. He had raised his voice, the last few words reverberating against the walls.
“Well, I’m sorry,” Dustin shouted. He felt his own mood quickly changing. He had planned to tell Snafu before finals finished. He never imagined Snafu would react badly. “Why would I need to run it past you anyway? It’s not like we had plans for the summer.”
“What if I said maybe I was gonna ask ya to come to meet my family? Huh? Ya should have fuckin’ asked.”
“You wanted me to meet your parents?” Dustin asked taken aback for a second, but he was still angry at Snafu for over reacting. “Well, you should have asked me too. Okay, I’m not the only one at fault here.”
“I don’t know about meetin’ my parents. It was just a thought.
“I’m sorry,” he said, this time more sincere, but it was too late. Snafu was walking toward the stairs.
And then Snafu was gone.
“Wardo,” Dustin said surprised to see him.
“Hey Dustin,” Eduardo said, clearly exasperated. “Oh, uh, Mer says hi and, uh, ‘thanks for the postcard’.”
Dustin’s fingers stopped flying over the keyboard. “You saw Merriell?”
“Hey, you’re supposed to be wired in,” Sean warned, but Dustin ignored him.
“Yeah, he was on the plane. Dustin, did you really send him a postcard and nothing else all summer?”
“What is Wardo talking about?” Sean asked.
“Don’t call me that,” Eduardo spat.
“I tried to call him,” Dustin said defensively. “He doesn’t want to talk to me. Wait. He was on the plane? Is he… he’s not in California, is he?”
Sean commandeered Eduardo’s attention before he could answer Dustin. Mark emerged from his room and led him to the hallway when Eduardo asked if he could speak to Mark privately. As muffled shouts came from the hallway, Dustin saved his work several times and then hacked into the registry of every hotel in a 100 mile radius. If Snafu had been on the plane with Eduardo, he had to be in the remote area.
Shelton, Merriell. Room 204 at the Hilton.
Dustin knew that checking had been an invasion of Snafu’s privacy, but if he had come out to talk, then why hadn’t he come with Eduardo to the house? If Dustin hurried, he could catch the last bus to the hotel. Dustin hoped he could reconcile with Snafu. That had to be what Snafu wanted after all, and it’s what Dustin wanted too. If Dustin couldn’t succeed, he’d be walking the whole way back and the rain didn’t look like it was stopping any time soon. Dustin was a masochist, however, and kept thinking what other reasons would Snafu come out to California for? Dustin could only come up with one, and he refused to think about it. After sitting for several minutes unmoving, Dustin pushed the chair back and made his out the front door.
He pushed the other possible outcomes out of his mind as the bus catapulted down the slick streets. He pushed it out of his mind as he rode the elevator to the second floor. He pushed it out of his mind as he found Room 204 and knocked. He pushed it out of his mind as Snafu appeared with bloodshot eyes.
“I should’ve known ya’d find me,” he muttered moving aside so Dustin could come in. “I just hoped I’d have some time to gather myself first.”
“Mer… Merriell. I’m so sorry I didn’t talk to you first,” Dustin said, the words pouring out of him.
“Dustin, no wait.”
“No, I have to say this. I should have talked to you. Facebook is important, but you are too. More so. Oh God, you’re so much more important. I’m fucking this up, aren’t I?”
Snafu was openly crying, but he smiled a bit. “Ya are, but please. Do go on.”
“I wish I could say I was miserable without you. I wasn’t, but I missed you so much. I just lied to myself about it. I would want to meet your family. I want that and everything else, whatever that is. White picket fence? The whole ten yards because Merriell, I, uh, I love you.”
Dustin spoke the last words so quietly, he was afraid Snafu wouldn’t have heard them. He gathered the courage to look up, Snafu was still crying, and Dustin worried he had done something wrong. Well, something else.
“I love ya too Dustin,” Snafu said. “God, I love ya so much, but ya really hurt me. I can’t just forgive ya.”
“I don’t expect you too. I was an asshole, I know. I’ll make it up to you, I swear.”
“How? Special Facebook features?” Snafu asked smiling slightly but he sounded tired.
“No. Merriell, I’m serious. I want to make this work.”
“Wardo says he thinks Mark wants to stay out here. Is that true?”
Dustin was surprised by the question. Only he, Mark and Sean knew. He just nodded slowly.
“I’m not uphaulin’ my whole life Dustin.”
“You can study history here,” Dustin said desperately.
“I know, but I like Harvard. I like the life I started there. I don’t wanna start again.”
“Oh God, Dustin. I… I do. And that’s… that’s why I gotta ask you to leave before this gets ugly. We can still be friends. I don’t want to completely lose you. I just can’t do long distance. It’ll break my heart even more.”
“Obviously,” Dustin snapped. “You’d never answer my calls.”
“Please Dustin. Don’t do that.”
Dustin stormed out and slammed the door. A cleaning lady in the hall jumped and cursed at him. Dustin ignored her, ignored Snafu yelling after him, ignored the rain pounding down on his head.
Sean answered the door, swaying against the frame as he held it tightly for support. “You’re wet,” he said and then burst out laughing.
“No shit Sherlock.” Dustin went back to his computer. He launched a code compiler, but first he made a quick change to his Facebook profile. After Eduardo had marched out of the house, Mark joined Dustin and they launched the last version of the Wall. Dustin received his first message by the next morning.
Chris Hughes: you and merriell broke up? :(
“Dustin, if you don’t move in five seconds, God help me, I will kill you.”
“The lawyers called,” Dustin repeated. “They said they have the papers. What were they talking about?”
“It doesn’t concern you.”
“I’m CTO, so I think I deserve to know anything that deals with legal matters.”
“It is between me and Wardo,” Mark said through clenched teeth.”
“Are we finally advertising?” Dustin asked.
“I said it’s between me and Wardo.”
Dustin left wordlessly and reverted back to working. Mark had wired himself in, so when the lawyers arrived, Dustin ushered them into the conference room telling them how sorry Mark was, but he was incredibly busy.
“Those are the new shares Mr. Zuckerberg had us draw up,” the one lawyer replied. “Tell him to give us a call once he gets all the appropriate signatures.”
They left, and Dustin read over all the fine print. At first he was still confused because neither his nor Mark’s shared had changed. Sean’s or Teil’s were the same as well. Then he saw at the very bottom ‘Eduardo Saverin - .03%’, Dustin automatically reached for his phone to call his friend, but stopped himself. He knew it was petty, but he was furious at Eduardo for telling Snafu about California. That was between them not Eduardo.
Dustin slid the papers back into the folder and dropped them off in Mark’s office along with a fresh can of Red Bull. At his desk, Dustin did start to feel bad. Facebook was pulling them all apart. He scribbled a message on some Post-It notes for Eduardo and stuck it to a computer, in case he wasn’t back when he came to sign the papers. He booked a flight, grabbed his laptop and left the office.
Dustin was afraid to knock, but he had nowhere else to go. He raised his fist only to have the door open swiftly. Snafu looked like he hadn’t been sleeping, as if he had been waiting for Dustin all along, but Dustin knew while he was the cause of his unrest, it was for completely different reasons. He should have thought this out, Dustin realized. He just drank in Snafu, his hair sticking up, as it often did and clothes rumpled.
“Better start talkin’,” Snafu said. He sounded exhausted and before Dustin could stop himself, he yawned. “I’m sorry, do I bore ya?”
“No. Mer, I’m sorry. I just had a long flight. I didn’t plan this. I just got up and left because this couldn’t wait. Facebook shouldn’t come first. You are the best thing to ever happen to me. The money? The recognition? They don’t mean anything. They won’t unless I have you by my side.”
“Ya don’t mean that.”
“Okay, so the money is nice,” Dustin joked. He smiled wildly when Snafu laughed. “I know you didn’t want to start over in California, but can you at least think about it. I’m sorry I freaked out the last time we talked. I know that this is difficult for you. I just don’t want a website tearing us apart.”
“One ‘sorry’ isn’t goin’ to cut it.”
“I’ll say it a hundred times if it means you’d give it a thought.”
“Ya were really outta line Dustin.”
“I know, I know. And I regret the way I acted every day.”
“That shouldn’t be enough. I should just forget about ya. But I can’t. Do ya really love me?” Snafu asked.
“Ya said it in the hotel room, but I need to hear it again. Did ya mean it?”
“Okay, I can do this if ya promise me one thing.”
“Never use my full damn name again.”
“I won’t,” Dustin said, but then Snafu’s words truly sunk in. “Wait, so you are going to think about it?”
“Naw, I’m gonna go to California. Dustin, I hate to say, but I’ve kinda been insufferable without ya. And I’m sure Stanford’s as good as Harvard. Plus the weather is closer to what I’m used to. I won’t have to borrow a coat from ya.”
“Okay. Wow. Um, can I come in? I sort of didn’t plan any of this out, and I have nowhere to stay. I don’t mean to impose.”
“I see how it is,” Snafu said with mock hurt. “Very presumptuous of ya. Thinking ya’d come in and sweep me off my feet.”
Snafu’s hand encircled Dustin’s wrist and led him inside and up a flight of stairs. Pictures covered the walls, and Dustin laughed at Snafu through the years. There was a picture of a toddler Snafu fishing with whom Dustin assumed was his father. Snafu was holding a fish no bigger than his hand, but he beamed with pride. Further up, there were pictures of Snafu around ten opening Christmas presents and then pictures of him playing with the presents. Then a picture of him in a tuxedo standing next to a girl who had been caught off guard before the camera flashed, her eyes closed tightly as she laughed at something Snafu must have said.
“Please don’t make fun of me,” Snafu said.
“What? Those pictures are adorable,” Dustin whispered afraid to ruin the moment.
“This is my childhood bedroom. So let’s ignore the embarrassin’ décor and get right to the cliché of debachin’ me where I grew up.”
“Not that that doesn’t sound appealing, but can we sleep now?”
“Alright. That sounds like a plan.”
Snafu pulled back the covers, and they both climbed in, familiar with sharing a bed clearly not made for two. Dustin kissed him softly and rested his head on Snafu’s shoulder.
“Yeah, they’re next door. Ya can meet them later.”
“I’d like that,” Dustin said and drifted off to sleep.
The security showed up to escort him out of the building, and Dustin intercepted them near the elevator. The guards nodded and allowed them enough distance to talk, but did not let Eduardo out of their sight.
“I’m so sorry man,” Dustin said. “I tried, lamely tried to…”
“It’s not your fault Dustin.” Eduardo sighed and shook Dustin’s hand. It felt too formal. It felt wrong. “I’ll talk to you later.”
The next time Dustin talked to Eduardo, it was under the supervision of lawyers. All Dustin had to do was tell what happened in his own words, at least that’s what Facebook’s legal team had told him. He was honest about going to Louisiana the day the papers had arrived, but might have fibbed about having read the entire contract before he left. His stupid, pink post-it notes were lying on the table in an evidence bag, as if a murder had been committed.
Snafu was waiting in their car when Dustin walked out. Dustin collapsed in the passenger seat and loosened his tie. “That was the worst four hours of my life.”
“Wanna go home boo?” Snafu asked patting Dustin’s knee reassuringly.
“Yeah, I honestly want nothing more than to get out of this monkey suit, play some Halo and drink beer.”
“I like the sound of that,” Snafu said. He started the car and headed toward their house. “How’s Wardo?”
“I think he’s still trying to rationalize it all,” Dustin admitted. “I feel awful for him, but I can’t take sides. They’re both my friends.”
“Yeah, and one is your boss too. And we all can’t have a happy endin’.”
“Mer, that was so cheesy. You can’t wrap everything in a neat package like that.”
“You’re right. In reality the lawsuit will carry on for a year. Mark and Wardo will have to get over it in order to attend stockholder’s meetin’s. And ya can’t get drunk ‘cause ya got work tomorrow.”
Dustin groaned. “Okay, forget I said that. Can we go back to our happy ending?”
Snafu leaned over and gave Dustin a kiss. The light turned green, and the cars behind them began to honk. Snafu laughed quietly as he pulled back and accelerated. “Yeah, I think we can do that.