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Mostly Eddie has a pretty good handle on what’s him and what’s Venom. They’re a we, sure, but it’s still Venom that wants to eat anything that moves and it’s Eddie that wants to lie on the couch and watch Storage Wars reruns all day. They’re like a Venn diagram or whatever. In the middle is tater tots, Anne, and begrudgingly enjoying the shithole that is planet Earth.

Sometimes the line gets a little blurry, though. Like in the mornings when Eddie isn’t quite awake yet, and gets up to brush his teeth before finding himself standing over the sink, eating an entire rotisserie chicken from the fridge, bones and all.

“Gross, man,” he says blearily, but his heart’s not in it. He and Venom had a talk about eating out of the garbage last week, and between that and Eddie’s fervent desire to avoid devouring too many people’s heads, he’s really gotta pick his battles.

You bought this, Venom points out. From a grocery store. That makes it human food. Fit for a weak human body.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. We can discuss appropriate breakfast foods later. When I’m not running late for work.”

Behind his back, Venom reaches out a tendril and flips on the coffee machine. Eddie shakes his head and fails not to smile. As if it matters anyway. “Thanks.”

Work is good. Work is great, frankly, after a six month stint of unemployment only occasionally broken up by short-lived odd jobs. Eddie thinks it’s great, at least; Venom thinks reporting is boring.

See, Eddie tells him, careful to keep it inside his head, so he doesn’t get fired in the first week for being a crazy person, journalism is important. It’s how we separate the good people from the bad people, and make sure the bad people are held accountable.

No, we hold the bad people accountable by eating them. It’s the absolute worst when he gets that tone, the faux-reasonable one, like he’s not an alien parasite--yes, parasite, fuck you, not apologizing--literally living in Eddie’s head.

It’s a trade-off, buddy. I need to go to work every day so I can make enough money to eat, and I’ll use the information I dig up to find very, very bad people so you can eat. Fair?

Fine, Venom says, all sulky now. But I’m bored.

Welcome to the human experience. You wanted to stay here, so no complaining.

Shockingly, Venom doesn’t complain. He settles down and doesn’t talk at all, which is great, because it means Eddie can really focus. It’s also not so great, because when Eddie offhandedly wonders on his lunch hour what’s keeping Venom occupied, he gets a flash of Eddie Brock’s spectacular break-ups, the highlights reel. Anne, of course, and then David from back when he first moved to New York, and Joy from college, and all the blips in-between.

“My memories are not cable!” he says. It’s garbled enough through his sandwich that probably only Venom’s direct access to his head gets the meaning across.

I am trying to learn, Venom says, all studious and reasonable again. As if he’s gonna fool the guy he’s sharing a body with. The asshole is laughing at him. Except when Eddie thinks that, there’s this warm slithering underneath his skin, like you’d try to pet a cat you’d startled, to soothe them. As if Eddie’s feathers were literally ruffled. I want to know everything about you.

Eddie crams the rest of his sandwich in his mouth, which is a better conversational stalling tactic when you actually need to speak to communicate. Fine. But can you maybe start with the less embarrassing memories? Even losers like us have our shining moments, you know.

Venom gives a hum of agreement, and Eddie ends up being pretty damn productive for the rest of the day. Turns out it’s easy to get shit done when you’ve got a friendly parasite in your head flipping through all your journalistic accomplishments and broadcasting what he finds. Man, that Wilson Fisk expose was a damn good piece of work, if Eddie says so himself. Venom even agrees.

All in all, a pretty good day for both of them. Eddie gets celebratory takeout, which is distinguishable from cheer-up takeout only by the subtle taste of victory in his lo-mein.

This lo-mein tastes dead. Not like victory at all.

“Look, buddy, you should be happy I didn’t get tofu. I have a feeling vegetarian isn’t really your style.”

Venom says nothing, but Eddie is very clear on the fact that it is not.

So mostly there’s Eddie and there’s Venom and there’s them, but some things still bleed. Like with Anne. Eddie still feels something for her, yeah, and it isn’t quite love anymore. In his bleaker moments he thinks it’s because he can’t really do love anymore, being the way he is, and in his more cheerful ones he thinks it’s because now he’s not so much of a sad sack hung up on his ex. But he cares about her, Eddie does, and Venom feels some weird kind of kinship with her that Eddie absolutely does not want to try to untangle. But either way, both of them are pretty happy to see her name light up on Eddie’s phone while he’s eating dinner, so probably the whys of it don’t matter.

That’s been Eddie’s go to for dealing with weird symbiote shit--probably it doesn’t matter! Don’t worry about it! That’s also been Eddie’s go to way of dealing with most things for his whole life--will this get him in trouble? Who cares! Probably it’ll be fine!--so obviously it’s a great plan. Hey, it’s got him this far.

They pick up, one of those weird moments where they move in total unison, no one person in control. It’s kind of soothing. Like fitting the last piece into a puzzle.

Anne wants to talk about Venom--if Eddie wants to have some sort of ceremony for him, just him and her and Dan. “I know these things can be hard,” she says. “I thought it might help to have...closure.”

“Seriously, I’m fine,” Eddie says, which would probably be believable if he hadn’t said that to her in a hundred different situations where he was not, in fact, fine. So his credibility’s kind of out the window there, but she drops it anyway, in favor of talking about how Eddie’s new job is going and how her pro-bono work makes her feel less like a corporate shill. It’s nice. The feeling he gets in his chest when he talks to Anne now is nice, the warm recognition of an old friend and none of the sharp dizzying regret.

Right before he hangs up, Anne stops him. “Listen, Eddie,” she says. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Seriously. I mean it.”

“So do I! Look, I really gotta go. Give Mr. Belvedere a kiss for me, will you? And Dan too, I guess.”

Anne laughs. “I will.”

Eddie tosses the phone onto the kitchen table and sighs. “We should tell her.”

We should not.

“She totally know something is up. She’s not stupid. She’s doing that thing where she’s not asking about it because she wants me to be a good person and tell her first.”

She would want to do more tests.

“She’s not gonna stick you back in the big scary MRI machine, dude. You’re the one who wanted me to apologize to her, right? Well, part of apologizing is not making the same mistakes, and I don’t want to keep lying to her. Come on, it’s Anne. She can keep a secret.” Eddie reaches for his phone, so he can call Anne back. God, she’ll probably laugh at him.

Except, when his arm’s halfway to his phone, it slams down onto the table and stays there.

“Venom.”

Nothing. His hand won’t budge. Vindictively, Eddie reaches out with his left; predictably, that slams down against the table too, with a little more force this time.

“Not cool, man.”

There’s a prickling, like rows and rows of sharp teeth, against the back of his neck. Why not? You like it.

“I don’t like being superglued to my own kitchen table! You can’t just--stop me from doing things.”

But you like it, Venom says again. You like it when I move you, or don’t let you move.

Of course he’s right, which is always the worst thing with Venom. It’s hot, of course it’s hot; Eddie loves being tied up or pushed around, and this is better, this is inside his fucking skin. “I like a lot of shit that isn’t good for me.” He tries the move his wrists. God, there’s no give at all.

Turns out this is another one for the middle of the Venn diagram, because Eddie can tell, Venom likes it too. He likes directing him, protecting him from bullets or bad people or his own bad decisions.

“For the record, being honest with Anne is not a bad decision!”

Venom slithers down Eddie’s shoulder and coalesces into a grinning face, so they can have a nice, reasonable, face to face conversation about this. The awful thing is Eddie doesn’t actually balk at having a face to face conversation with a leering psycho monster face with about five hundred extra teeth anymore. Guess a guy really can get used to anything. You should at least think about it. When you’re impulsive, bad things happen, Eddie.

Well, that’s kind of hard to argue with. “Whatever, I’ll think about it. I’ll even make a pros and cons list if that’ll make you happy. But we really need to talk about this.” He tries to wiggle his fingers, for emphasis.

All at once, Venom lets him go, and he can move his hands again. Ah, sweet freedom. Both of them can feel his flash of disappointment. Eddie ignores it. He rubs at his wrists. No marks. He tries not to linger too long on the thought that he’d like some.

Talk, Eddie.

“So, people don’t like it when their friends, or boyfriends, or parasitic mind freeloaders are too controlling. It’s kind of a red flag.”

You liked it when Anne was controlling. I remember. She remembered, too. More flashes of memory--Anne’s tie around his neck, his wrists bound to the headboard, her nails biting deep into his skin. Great, great, Venom was definitely rifling through Eddie’s sex life while he was busy writing articles and doing important, hard-hitting journalism. That’s also probably fine.

“It’s kind of a situational thing, man.”

Venom tilts his head just a bit too far to the side to seem like a natural gesture.

“Just--I asked for it, alright? And it was different. She didn’t stop me from living my life, and she’d definitely have kicked my ass if I tried to stop her from doing anything.”

Oh, I see, Venom says, in a rush of understanding. You mean it was about sex.

Eddie rubs his hands against his face. “Uh, yeah, dude. Was that not clear? You’re literally in my head, you realize this is what we’re talking about, right?”

Venom curls around his shoulders. You like a lot of things. Watching pictures on the television, and eating dead food, and being held down. The difference is immaterial.

Cool. So Eddie is talking about his weird sex stuff with his brain roommate, and he’s also the one that brought it up. God, he hopes Venom got the birds and the bees from his tour down Eddie’s memory lane. Eddie is really not up for giving an alien the talk. He seems to have the gist, at least. He knew how to kiss.

Okay, wait a minute. This is totally not Eddie’s fault. He tips his head back and blinks up at his ceiling. “Hey. What Anne said. Was it really your idea to kiss me?”

Yes.

Ha! Totally not his fault. Somehow it’s fine that he’s talking about sex with his alien brain buddy as long as it isn’t his fault. “Okay. Why, exactly?”

Venom oozes around him, loops a few times around his neck so his face is close to Eddie’s ear. Anne remembered kissing you. She liked it. It made her feel close to you. I wanted to feel close to you, Eddie. It hurt, not being a part of you. He squeezes a little tighter, and great, now Eddie is really wondering how much he saw in Anne’s head. What’s he’s seen in Eddie’s. Oh, he’s so absolutely fucked. Let me be close to you.

“Um.” Venom leans forward, so his forehead is touching Eddie’s, and there’s ropes of him slipping down Eddie’s neck to his shoulders and down his arms in viscous sheets that would not feel good and warm and right if Eddie was a normal person. Ah, fuck it. Venom’s trailing his tongue up Eddie’s throat, and at this point making out with him is probably the least weird option.

“No teeth,” Eddie says, and talking was a mistake, he sounds breathy as hell.

Kissing Venom the first time wasn’t anything like kissing Anne—he can remember it, now, from her point of view, from Venom’s point of view, they were so relieved to be with Eddie again, to be in Eddie again, body and mind. Kissing Anne was always nice, but when she was Venom it felt right, like finding a piece of himself he’d lost.

Also, there was a lot more tongue. Like now, this is definitely a lot of tongue, Venom in him and around him and probably permanently fucking up Eddie’s calibration of what he thinks is hot.

Venom breaks away, probably because Eddie was starting to get light-headed in a not fun way. He squeezes around Eddie’s middle and his arms.

“Not to put too fine a point on it,” Eddie says, in his stupid wrecked voice, “but I’m kind of a shitty boyfriend. Which you know, from Anne, and also from binge watching all the worst moments of every one of my relationships.”

You lied to Anne.

“Yeah.”

That’s why you don’t want to lie to her now.

Eddie rolls his eyes. “Got it in one, genius.”

Venom’s tongue slides over his mouth, down his chin and neck, slick and warm. Eddie shivers. But you can’t lie to me. I am you and you are me. We are Venom. I know what you think and feel and want. So no lies. You can’t. He wraps around both of Eddie’s arms, anchoring him to the chair, holding him in place. Eddie relaxes into it, because he wants to, and because it does, stupidly, make him feel better. His relationship with Anne wasn’t the first time he fucked it up because when push came to shove, he was willing to lie to get what he wanted. He can’t fuck this up. Or he can, probably, never put any kind of fuckup past Eddie Brock, but not by lying. So he relaxes, and Venom loves that, and he wraps Eddie’s wrists up tight, so he’ll have those bruises he wants so badly. They want so badly.

“Okay,” Eddie says, nonsensically, sue him, he’s dealing with a lot at the moment, and Venom kisses him again—this whole thing really gives a new meaning to sucking face—and he tries to stand up, kind of because he has a vague idea this might be more comfortable in a bedroom and kind of because he wants what happens to happen. Venom doesn’t let him move, sets his feet flat on the floor and spreads his legs out wide. Eddie rolls his head back and whines in a way that is not embarrassing at all.

Venom breaks the kiss. Mine, he says, out loud and rumbling, which goes straight to Eddie’s dick, not that the past fifteen minutes or so haven’t already been doing that. He wants, Venom wants, maybe this shouldn’t be so surprising since apparently Venom was doing the equivalent of watching porn in Eddie’s head all day—

I don’t care about them, Venom says, in that worryingly dismissive way he has of talking about people that aren’t Eddie. I don’t want you to remember them. You should remember me.

Eddie sticks a pin in the talk they need to have about boundaries, because fuck. “What, not even Anne?” he says, kind of teasing but also kind of ragged.

His legs spread vindictively wider, forcing him to slide down a little in the chair, and his zipper is really starting to hurt like this. Mine, Venom says again, ferocious now. Eddie can feel his heart in his throat.

“Yeah, I think we’ve established that—any chance you could lend a hand here, I think my dick is going to explode—”

The hand in question turns out to be Eddie’s. Venom unwraps from around his wrists, and oh yeah, that’s going to bruise, and Venom uses them to pop the button on his jeans and yank his zipper down. And stops, Eddie’s own hands resting placidly on his thighs.

“Fuck—come on, buddy, you’re killing me here.”

I would never hurt you. You like this. Smug, he’s such a smug motherfucker, why couldn’t Eddie have gotten one of the nice, easygoing aliens who jack you off when you really need it, or at least let you squirm, or don’t make you beg—

Eddie thunks his head down against the back of the chair. “Please,” he says. “Do something, touch me, please, I’m yours, you know I’m yours, just let me have something, please.”

Venom’ thoughts aren’t really words, at this point, or maybe Eddie’s brain just isn’t up to receiving signals, because his hands finally pull his boxers and jeans down, far enough that he—that Venom—that they can touch his dick, and it feels amazing, and weird as hell, because it’s him and not him, Eddie can’t control it at all. And Venom is glad, Venom wants more, Venom feels the same way about Eddie right now that he feels about a juicy human he’s about to eat. That should worry him, that should not make his dick pulse in their hand and start to leak.

Venom wraps around his shoulders again until his head is perched right next to Eddie’s, and even when it’s too much and Eddie has to close his eyes, he can still see through Venom’s. When he watches that way it’s more intense somehow, he’s closer to how Venom feels, and what Venom feels is hungry.

He’s getting close, he’s really fucking close, and if he were driving he’d tighten his grip, speed up, but as soon as he thinks that Venom slows down.

Eddie doesn’t think he says or thinks anything particularly articulate, but Venom gets the idea.

You feel good, Venom says, all fake reasonable, his tongue sliding out to caress Eddie’s ear. So keep feeling good.

Like he has a choice. Fuck. Venom knows exactly what to do, too, because Anne knew exactly what to do, and apparently they gossiped about him when they were bonded, and Eddie kind of wishes he had it in him to be jealous instead of just helplessly turned on. They talked about him like that, at least enough for Venom to go looking for the memories in her head, enough that now Venom knows just how to touch him to keep him on the edge. Fast strokes and then slow, thumb running circles just under the head.

Eddie moans, probably too loud, the asshole across the hall can deal with it—he’s lucky they haven’t bitten his head off—and he can’t really talk anymore, but he also can’t think much that isn’t please, that isn’t the satisfied hum of Venom in his head, feeling what he feels, curious and devouring, wanting it to go on forever.

Venom extends down from his neck, slides under his shirt and to his dick, wraps around him with their hand and with Venom’s tendrils all tangled together. It’s like—it’s not like anything, and it’s just like Venom said, it’s being close, being one, like everything is where it should be. Eddie can’t do anything wrong because he’s not Eddie, he’s Venom, and the only thing they are right now is good. Venom’s tongue curls lazily around his neck and Eddie wants to kiss him, so Venom does, thought to action like moving a limb.

And mostly, mostly Eddie can tell what’s him and what’s Venom, except right now he really can’t, right now everything is running together and he can’t think. All he is is them, and they feel brilliant, like fire if fire didn’t hurt, Eddie knows what an orgasm feels like but Venom doesn’t and this isn’t the same, anyway. Nothing feels like this, like being whole.

It’s still a little muddy afterwards. For a while they just pant, breathing in and out, what a terrible design, having to breathe all the time. They kick off their jeans and underwear and pull off their shirt for the mess, and halfway through they think, in a flash, of Venom using his tongue to clean Eddie up, and then Eddie almost falls out of the chair and Venom catches him, taking over his hands to balance against the table.

“Christ,” Eddie says, voice cracked all over.

And mostly after that Eddie can tell what’s him and what’s Venom, except he thinks maybe those two things are a little closer now than they were before.

“I know, I know,” he says, before Venom can butt in. “We’re Venom, I’m yours and you’re mine, but if you try to stop me from taking a shower I will do my best to make my brain an unpleasant place to be.”

Venom has no objection to post-coital showers, thankfully. Afterwards, Eddie changes into his sweatpants and grabs a beer from the fridge. “Alright, let’s get started on that pros and cons list.”

He’s going to dig around for his notepad, but his hand is busy. Venom uses it to grab the phone. Don’t bother.

Eddie rubs his other hand against his face, feeling one of them grin. Not really worth thinking about which one. “Anne is never gonna let this go. She will make fun of me forever.”

Good. I’m not planning to let you go. Ever.

Eddie almost drops the phone just as Anne picks up.