Dustin's known Mark since he was still shining Mayor Winklevoss's shoes -- or, to be perfectly accurate, he's known Mark since he was still setting up Mayor Winklevoss's private e-mail server and cleaning the twins' computers of viruses. He's seen Mark smile, tight and uncomfortable, when someone has told him to put a bullet between the eyes of some petty criminal, and he's seen Mark use thermite to torch hard drives full of incriminating evidence without even blinking. Dustin knew Mark when he was just an up-and-comer with something to prove, some punk kid who could barely even shoot a gun in a straight. (Not that Dustin was much better at the time.)
Mark isn't that kid anymore, to say the least.
Neither is Dustin.
"It wasn't--" the bartender says, shaking. He's got a cheek pressed against the floor, hands flat on the ground, looking up at Dustin with one frantic eye. Dustin has a shoe on his face, so maybe that's understandable.
The bartender was a lot tougher earlier, when Mark had come in with some questions. It's even a nice place, too. Lots of sports memorabilia. The wings are pretty good. Most people don't know what Mark looks like even if they know who he is. Mark likes the strength of his reputation, but he doesn't like being flashy about it, which means that he can still pass through the criminal underworld unrecognized if he wants to. The ill-fitting suits Mark likes to wear, along with the messy curls of his hair and his obvious youth, give the impression that Mark is some low-level lackey, which isn't true at all. Dustin has run out of fingers to count the number of times someone has accidentally called him "Mr. Zuckerberg."
This bartender isn't so tough right now, with a foot in his face and a gun pointed at his head.
"You're not answering my questions fast enough," Mark says. He's standing next to the bar, and his eyes keep twitching around the room like he's bored, like he'd rather be doing something else in his head right now. Mark is thirteen times worse than his normal baseline when he's bored. When Mark's bored, he likes to put together his big schemes, the ones that both impress and terrify Dustin all at once. Mark isn't content to just carve out a small and comfortable place for himself and his own operation. Mark wants to play with the big boys.
Dustin says, "I believe Mr. Zuckerberg asked you a question." He doesn't even have to make his tone particularly menacing. The gun does most of his talking for him.
The bartender twitches. "He-- he didn't say anything about farm animals, just that he wanted to go somewhere warmer." He's being so accommodating now, which makes Dustin happy. It's too bad the Winklevii will just torture the information out of him later.
Chris snorts. "Billy did like to say he wanted to retire to the Bahamas." He's got his hands shoved into his pockets, one eyebrow raised. Most people think Chris is the nice one, which is true if you've only seen him standing next to Mark, trying to smooth things over when Mark is in a particularly difficult business meeting and Mark is being annoyed and impatient. Being Mark's consigliere, Chris puts only his good face on while in public. When he's behind the scenes, he can be every bit as ruthless as Mark himself. Maybe even more so.
Mark nods, a quick half-aborted motion. "We'll have to get him before he gets to the airport." He turns to leave without giving Dustin any further instructions.
"Um, boss?" Dustin says, gesturing to the squirming bartender on the floor.
Mark gives Dustin a level look, his eyes as cold and as blank as they always are.
Dustin steps back and pulls the trigger.
The man screams in pain as the bullet tears through his knee.
Eduardo is waiting for them at Mark's home after they finish up with Olsen. He's angry about something, but Dustin has always been careful not to get in between Mark and Eduardo when they get into one of their little tiffs. The two of them snarl at each other with sharp, clipped words, articulate even in anger. Dustin carefully ignores what they're actually saying. Neither Mark nor Eduardo are above dragging other people into their problems. Feigning ignorance is the best way around that.
Chris raises an eyebrow at Dustin. "How long do you think it'll take?" he asks with a nod in the direction of Eduardo's retreating back.
"Never," Dustin says. Mark and Eduardo have been together for years, and things have always been rocky. Eduardo keeps his nose as clean as possible, and Mark-- well, Mark doesn't understand the concept. At all.
Dustin and Mark met Eduardo for the first time when they were on a routine bank trip, tasked with inspecting Mayor Winklevoss's accounts for any suspicious irregularities. (The old man thought that maybe someone was skimming some off the top, and he wanted the two of them to figure out if that was the case.) For some reason that Dustin still doesn't understand, Eduardo had taken a shine to Mark even then, leaning in close as Mark's eyes flicked over the computer screen, putting a hand on Mark's shoulder when he didn't have to. At the end of the trip, Eduardo scribbled his number on the back of a bank receipt and offered it to Mark. What was even more surprising was the fact that Mark had taken it, a smile lingering on the corner of his lips. Mark doesn't really like people, but he liked Eduardo, and Dustin never understood that either.
That had been years ago, way before Mark decided to strike out on his own, before Mark started putting together his own organization, one that's beginning to rival even the Winklevoss family operations. If Eduardo managed to stick with Mark through all of that, when Mark was at his most obsessive and workaholic and completely bugfuck nuts, he should be able to stick with Mark through anything.
"Mark, you don't--" Eduardo says from further down the hall, a frown crossing his face.
"I don't remember asking for your opinion, Wardo," Mark says, cutting him off. When Mark's like this, you can argue all you want, but you're not going to win. Not on any level. Dustin once tried to argue Mark out of buying his own bar (which, in retrospect, was a great idea). Mark had mostly just glared at Dustin until Dustin went away. Mark has a stubborn streak a mile wide. Mark can make you feel small and insignificant with just one look.
Dustin's not one to speculate (okay no, that's a total lie), but he's pretty sure Eduardo thinks that one day Mark will just... stop. That one day, after Mark's had enough, they'll pick up and move out to Mexico or Hawaii or somewhere like that and live out the rest of their lives with Mark's ill-gotten gains. Or something. Dustin doesn't know the details.
Eduardo has never seen Mark while he's at work, really at work, with his eyes narrowed and focused and his mouth set into a grim, straight line. He hasn't heard Mark talk about their next moves, each one calculated to get them further, each one calculated to get them more.
Dustin knows it's never going to be enough, not for Mark. Not ever.
Afterwards, when Mark and Eduardo's chilliness towards each other finally begins to thaw, Dustin ends up in Mark's office. Mark is on the phone with their guy in California, Sean, talking about deliveries and schedules. As always, Mark's office is clean, neat to the point of seeming sterile. It doesn't look like something out of The Godfather, all warm browns, covered in old books, carrying all its history with it. The office looks like Mark, cold and metallic, white walls and bare, stainless steel furniture.
"You wanted to see me?" Dustin asks after Mark hangs up.
Mark leans forward and says, "I'm not surprised that they went after Billy. He was always an idiot. I am concerned that it took us that long to figure out he was the leak, and it's even more concerning that it took us that long to figure out where he was."
Mark is bleeding anger, a cold rage in his voice. He's usually more controlled than that. The argument with Eduardo must have been really bad. "I'll make sure everyone stays on top of suspicious coincidences in the future," Dustin says. "I have a few ideas that I've been kicking around. I'll see what I can do."
Mark half-nods, a quick tilt of his head. "Good." It sounds like a dismissal.
Dustin figures that the business-talk of this conversation is now over. "So what was up with the fight with Wardo?"
The look Mark gives him could freeze lava, but Dustin knows that he can get away with a lot when it comes to Mark. He started earning it that from the moment Mark had said, "Fuck the Winklevii, those close-minded little fucks. I want to go bigger," and Dustin had said, "Sure. Let's do it."
Mark says, "Wardo is my problem, not yours." His voice is as flat as ever. Dustin's not going to win this argument either.
Dustin remembers what Chris said out in the hallway, about how long it will take. Seeing Mark now, Dustin thinks it might not be long at all. "You know it's only going to get worse the deeper you go, right? Wardo isn't-- he didn't choose this the way we did."
Mark doesn't say anything, but he does sit back in his chair. He loosens his tie. For a moment, he looks like that kid Dustin first met a lifetime ago, their newest tech guy in a too-big hoodie and baggy cargo shorts, the one with the cruel smile and the ability to make computers sing underneath his fingers. Then the image rights itself, and he's Mark again, Dustin's boss in the ugly suits and more money than he knows what to do with.
The fire in his eyes is still the same as it always was.
"Mark--" Dustin starts.
Mark says, "Get the fuck out of my office, Dustin."
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