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There is noise, and pain, and the city flies past him in shades of grey as he falls, falls, falls.

 

Eddie!

 

His thoughts are too tangled to respond, fuzzy and faraway, like he might be dreaming.  Something in Eddie is broken— his bones are sitting wrong in his skin, and before black flesh crawled protectively over his own, his guts had been spilling out between his fingers.  It hurts, god, it hurts.

 

His darling can put him back together, but breaking is still an agonizing thing.

 

EDDIE!

 

Eddie’s eyes flutter shut before he’s swallowed with darkness, and everything shudders and slows.  Then he’s being carried, but all wrapped up in ink— safe, and warm, just the way he likes it.

 

Got you, Eddie.  

 

Eddie smiles weakly, drifting, barely there.

 

“You always do.”

 

The world is black, but that’s fine.

 

It’s better this way.

 

-

 

Eddie wakes slowly, like he’s swimming to the surface from deep underwater but without all the breathless desperation.  

 

Just weightless, and muffled, buried under waves.

 

He blinks his eyes open, squinting at the stained ceiling above him, a rorschach of ugly brown on dingy white.  Water drips rhythmically from the tap in the kitchen, a faint, unceasing plink plink plink against the metal sink.  They haven’t been staying here long, but it’s not that different from the last few places— a run-down hovel on the shitty side of town, out of the way, inconspicuous.  The heating is bad and there are holes in the plaster. The tile is an ancient, peeling linoleum, and the front door sticks; it’s not home, not really.

 

They carry home around with them, wherever they go.  These walls are nothing more than a place to hide away from the world.

 

Home is in Eddie’s blood, and his thoughts, and his skin.

 

Home is never, ever being alone.

 

He runs a hand over his stomach, scratching through the curls low on his abdomen, finding the skin smooth and unmarred.  Eddie doesn’t expect anything different.

 

No matter how many times he falls, his love is there to pick him back up.

 

You scared me, Eddie.

 

Eddie shuts his eyes again, and lets himself sink into the words; into that secondary presence within himself, pulling it close and not letting go.  It pulses with anxiety, and Eddie does his best to soothe it, to calm the unhappiness he senses there.

 

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t expect those tanks to explode.  If I’d known there would be fire, I never would have-”

 

No!   You scared me, Eddie.  Hurt. Didn’t know if I could fix you in time.

 

Eddie slides his hand higher and lays it flat over his heart.  Feels it beat against his palm, steady and unerring, and affection wells up in him like a storm.  

 

“You’re always stitching me up, love,” he says.  

 

There’s not another apology on his tongue, but there’s one in his mind, in his veins, in his bones.  In all the places his other half lives, swelling through every part of Eddie, vital and alive. Eddie knows they feel it, that ever present regret, always there when he lets the two of them get hurt this way.

 

Not your fault!  We had to save them.  Be a hero.

 

Eddie hums his agreement, stretching out on their bed— a mattress sitting directly on the floor, sheets in desperate need of changing, pillows without cases.  Naked, because why should he wear clothes when his symbiote can become clothes.  

 

Can give Eddie everything he needs, and more.

 

There’s a lamp nearby, the shade long gone, a bare bulb lighting up the darkness.  He’s working to get them somewhere better, but it’s hard when they’re so often on the run, trying to lay low.  Eddie’s fingers trail over the place he’d been gutted, just underneath his navel, and there’s not even a scar.

 

A memory, and a lesson, and nothing else.

 

“You take such good care of us.”

 

His symbiote preens, and black tendrils surge up over Eddie’s skin.  Warm like a caress, spreading across his hips and stomach. They swell, and expand, coiling serpentine around his legs and biceps.

 

They ease his knees wide, and creep higher, soft and familiar on the inside of his thighs.

 

Like taking care of you.  Let me take care of you, Eddie.

 

Eddie smiles, rubbing his hands over the swirling black on his chest, all gentle adoration.  It shivers, riling under his touch— clinging to his fingers until it’s enveloping them, dripping down his wrists.  

 

“Always.”

 

Always, always.  

 

Eddie lifts his hands and lets them fall over his head, loose and relaxed on his pillow.  He knows better than to try and help, and he’d rather go pliant right now than have his arms pinned down.  It’s not always the case, but the symbiote knows what he wants, when he wants it.

 

Knows how to take care of Eddie better than Eddie himself.

 

Black tendrils curl around cock, tighter than any fist, warm and slick and velvet soft.  He’s already hard, hips rocking instinctively as the dark coils stroke and pulse. Ink twists slowly over him, surging up in places then falling away—  spreading and retreating, painting itself over Eddie before vanishing again. Eddie drops a hand to pet over them, arching as more tendrils dip down past his sac and slip into him, easy as breathing.

Eddie lets out a rough breath as he’s worked open, thighs spreading impossibly wider, the symbiote throbbing and coiling inside him.  It’s effortless to relax around it, pleasure streaking through him in waves as he’s stretched and filled. The bliss he feels is echoed back at him from within, voice in his head cooing softly.

 

Got you, Eddie.  Got you, got you.

 

“I know you do,” Eddie replies, voice strained as he rolls his hips, breath coming faster.  

 

His mouth drops open as the ropes of black twisting in him thicken, settling right where he needs them and rubbing relentlessly.  They pull back and press in again, and again, and Eddie whines through his teeth, boneless as he’s taken— perfectly, like always.

 

Just the way he likes it.

 

The black on his skin shifts erratically as he gets closer to orgasm, like it’s trying to touch every part of Eddie without fusing with him entirely.  Two long, thin tendrils snake over his chin and into his mouth, and Eddie licks at them, sucking and moaning quietly. Then suddenly they’re twisting together, and it’s a tongue in his mouth, wet and dripping messily.  The symbiote is only partially formed, swelling up out of Eddie’s chest just to kiss him.

 

He yields to the drooling, toothy grin pressed against his lips, and after a moment it retreats, tongue curling around his throat instead.  Wrapping tight, teeth scraping his shoulder, jaw yawning open. Razor sharp, decidedly vicious.

 

Beautiful, and Eddie’s never felt safe like he does when they’re together this way, tangled so irrevocably.  

 

He shakes, and clings to the ink on his skin, tucking his face into the formless black of the symbiote curling out from him.  It swells inside him, and tightens around his cock, and Eddie bucks into it with a weak sound. It purrs in his ear, and in his mind, swarming over all of Eddie until only his face is free of it, holding him as he shakes through his climax.

 

Mine, Eddie.  Mine.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’m-” Eddie jerks, and keens, feeling slick black heat lap up his come, even as it’s pulsing out of him in bursts.  “Yours, all yours.”

 

Don’t leave me.  Need you. Don’t leave me alone.

 

Eddie shivers through the lingering twitches of his orgasm, the symbiote retreating back somewhat— there’s still black on his skin, but it’s no longer coiled around his dick, or pressing up inside him.  There’s no tongue wrapped possessively around his throat, no teeth nipping at his shoulder. He lifts his hand to his face, and presses his lips to the dark spill of black on his knuckles. Once, twice, and the pleased feeling that coils through him is well tread and familiar.  

 

“Doing my best.  Not gonna leave you without a fight, okay?”

 

Promise, Eddie.

 

Eddie smiles, eyes fluttering shut, sinking into the words.  Pulling his other close, and not letting go.

 

“I promise, love.”

 

All he can do is fight, but Eddie’s good at that, now.

 

Got you, Eddie.

 

“Got you, darling.”

 

Always.