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Happy To Be Stuck With You

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There are very few things in life that can come as a surprise to Eddie Brock.

The woman he was going to marry leaving him without a second thought, a bunch of hitmen trying to kill him, and an alien symbiote invading his mind and body were all events that were pretty hard to one up, and Eddie didn’t even know which one was worse.

So naturally, when he read the eviction notice on the door of his apartment a mere week after shit went down in San Francisco, he was not particularly upset.

He wasn’t, but they were.

Eddie could already feel a tinge of distress spreading through his chest.

“Everything alright pal?” he said, ripping the notice off the door and making their way into the apartment. It was still in a rough shape, but Eddie supposed it didn’t really matter now anyway.

Venom stirred inside him with an unsatisfied growl. “Who did this? Who left the letter?”

“The landlord. He owns the apartments, and he hated my guts from the beginning.” Eddie dropped the grocery bags on the floor and sat down at the half-broken kitchen table full of gunshot holes.

They grabbed today’s newspaper poking out from one of the bags and opened it.

“Do you want us to eat him?”

“No! No. He’s just doing his job I guess.” Eddie turned a page.

“But he doesn’t like you. He doesn’t understand.”

“Sometimes it’s just like that.” Eddie concluded, but Venom didn’t seem satisfied with that answer and rattled in a distressed tenseness through their body.

 “Don’t get all sulky on me, V. Kinda saw it coming after all the overdue bills and the…well you know. Hitmen showing up and destroying most of the building and scaring away the tenants.”

“We don’t understand. Is it not normal for this to happen to other humans?”

Eddie raised and eyebrow and laughed. “Despite what you might think, no. I’m a terrible example of a normal person. Usually there’s no hitmen.”

“You’re the perfect example. You’re perfect to me.”

He’s gotten so used to compliments like this that he wasn’t even fluttered anymore, though it did leave them with a content, warm feeling lingering in their abdomen. They turned the page of the newspaper to the rental section and Venom nudged at their thoughts with curiosity.

“You want to look for another place is that right?”

 “Well yeah, I guess.” Eddie shrugs. “This place has never really been home for me.”

A sudden surge of sadness came over them. New thoughts, never before seen images popped into view about a dark planet, a desolate emptiness. Alone. This is how Venom felt about his home planet; like this sad mess of an apartment with annoying neighbours and no memories to attach it to.

 As much as Eddie felt like this was something kinda private to Venom, he appreciated the vulnerability.

“Man… I’m sorry.” he pat their shoulder to offer some kind of comfort.

“We’re both losers, Eddie. But we like hope. Good emotion.” Venom was nudging at their subtle excitement and desire for a new home. A real one this time.   

“Yeah. Yeah, hope is good.”

With that, Eddie grabbed the orange highlighter from the table and started circling cheap rental postings. They will have to make a lot of phone calls today.

 

 

***

 

 

They made exactly twenty-three calls, with very little luck.

Venom started to get aggravated by like call twelve, so they had to take a feast break, so now pretty much all the just acquired groceries were gone. Eddie didn’t know what citizen laws apply to alien symbiotes, but if it keeps going like this, he will amend the constitution himself to include a “must pay rent” clause.

“I could just eat people, that would be easier.” Venom suggested multiple times.

“No, nope, nopity-nope. We set the rules on like day two. Unless they are like seriously messed up bad people, none of that crap.”

Their thoughts would settle down after that, with a little discontent.

Eddie groaned at the memories and banged his head against the table.

“Ow. Why would you do that?”

“Oh, sorry. We like to be visibly distressed sometimes.”

“There is no need for that. I know what you are thinking at any given time.”

“I know pal, trust me. It’s just a human thing.” they yawned but perked up immediately to the sound of Eddie’s cellphone ringtone.

“Hello, Eddie Brock speaking!” he almost yelled into the phone, partially because at every given introduction scene, they felt the urge to do the creepy We are Venom thing, and Eddie has had a hard time explaining why that is a bad idea.

“Hey Eddie, it’s Anne. Did you lose my number?” she asked on the other side of the line confused.

Idiot. “No, no of course not. I just didn’t have time to look at the ID that’s all.”

Eddie could already feel Venom shifting excitedly.

“Are you busy? Is this a bad time?” the voice shifted a little with traffic noises in the background.

“Not at all. Not really doing much.”

“Great, because I’m just on my way home, I thought I’d pop in to see how things are.”

“Are you going to tell her?”

Eddie swallowed. This is the worst timing ever. “I’m good, everything is fine. You should just head home, don’t wanna keep Dan waiting.”

“Coward.”

“I already let Dan know I’m coming over.” Anne was always better at persuading when it came to them two. “It’s been a week already since…”

“Yeah, yeah.” Eddie stood from the chair and dumped himself on the couch instead.

“I’m just worried about you.”

That came as a surprise. A pleasant one. Venom purred quietly into Eddie’s tendons, relaxing under the warm feeling spreading through their body.

“Yeah.” he repeated with a moment of hesitation. “No, uh I’m not busy right now or anything so… yeah.”

“Alright.” Anne concluded. “Then I’ll see you soon. Third floor, right?”

“Third, yeah. Sounds good.”

There was an awkward pause before they hung up and Venom decided to perch on Eddie’s shoulder, feeling conflicted. His slimy tendrils snaked around their arm for grip, already feeling his host’s relief. Venom’s gotten a little better with understanding human emotions, and this seemed to be one of the confusing “Eddie needs physical touch”, even though they’ve already formed the most intimate bond possible.

“Anne is a good person. She cares about us. Why do we want to push her away?”

“I don’t know man, it’s complicated.” Eddie sighed. “It’s not like she needs to pamper us anymore. She has another life, a normal one at least and I’d like for it to stay that way.”

“Are you saying we are not normal?”

“No, jeez that’s not what I meant! Well… okay maybe, we are a little weird, but she-“

“She didn’t mind. I could sense it in her thoughts in the forest.”

Eddie’s mind immediately jumped into a flashback of him practically making out with…whoever was in control. He really didn’t know which version he preferred.

“She still wouldn’t mind. We know that. That’s why we love her.”

It was the last thing he needed after he regained some of her trust; for Anne to think he’s some kind of psycho with Stockholm Syndrome. Deep down he knew that even if she were to think so, it wouldn’t matter, not really.

They had each other with Venom. When the spaceship exploded, the brief separation left them with an ache that is still mending. A fear, that it might happen again, that something will tear them apart, a loneliness worse than death. And frankly, they would never do that again for a single being on this planet.

Eddie felt shivers running down his back.

“I know pal… we really are losers y’know.”

“Only you, Eddie.”

“Oh wow, so if I say it then it’s just me. I see how it is. Bastard.”  

Venom sunk low, down into Eddie’s gut with a satisfied grunt. They didn’t really reach a conclusion in the argument with words, so they filled in the rest with emotions. Venom was always better at those.

 

***

 

Twenty minutes later Anne knocked on the door.

“Alright.” Eddie stood and looked very serious which did not suit him at all.” Behave please. No weird comments. Let’s just see how it goes, okay?”

Venom grumbled softly against Eddie’s bones, but he could feel a reluctant agreement.

“Great.”

With that. he quickly opened the door and put on his best smile. “Hey Annie.”

“Hi Eddie.” she returned the smile, trying really hard not to immediately look through the apartment with silent judgement and worry. “Coffee?”

She handed him a takeaway cup full of hot coffee, which Eddie reluctantly accepted and took a teeny tiny sip. Venom was not the biggest fan of dead bean juice.

“Thanks. Uh, here I can take your coat.” he set the drink down on the table feeling instant relief from inside.

“It’s okay, I won’t bother you for too long. Just wanted to check in, see how things were- is that an eviction notice?”

Of course, she had to notice right away, and Eddie had been dumb enough not to hide the letter.

“Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuhh.”

“Christ, since when?” Anne took the letter skimming over it.

“I actually just got that today.” as if that made it sound better.

Anne gave Eddie a worried look.

“Are you… are you okay? You know, with everything? How are you coping?” she leaned a little closer, suggesting that Eddie could trust her with whatever worry he still might have. It’s been a rough couple of weeks after all with one blow after the other.

“Oh yeah, yeah. Don’t worry about me.”

“About us.”

“That’s what I meant.” then Eddie realized he spoke out loud again. “I mean what I mean is that everything is dandy. I actually found this cute little place down on Fell street and the landlady seems super nice.”

“That’s great Eddie.” Anne smiled. “Would be even better if you told the truth.”

“Score one for Anne. Eddie sucks.”

Eddie swallowed hard, hoping he would be somehow able to swallow Venom’s mockery as well.

“Sorry. I’m working on it I swear. I mean on the apartment thing. And also, on the telling the truth thing.”

Anne didn’t seem upset though, more so genuinely concerned. Man, it really did feel good to have friends again.

She adjusted her purse on her shoulder. “It’s okay to ask for help, Eddie. Both me and Dan understand what you went through-“

“Dan’s a tool, he could never understand.”

“-and we want to help. He has a lot of good connections in town, we will ask around if anyone has a cheap rental available.”

“Yeah, that’s…that’s very nice of you. I appreciate it. Dan’s a really cool guy.” he emphasizes his last phrase to one up Venom’s petty little rivalry with Anne’s boyfriend.

“He is.” Anne nods, and a comfortable silence sets in.

Though there is something intangible lingering in the air, like an unasked question; or rather an unanswered one.

“… do you miss him?” she breaks it out finally.

Eddie’s stomach turns painfully with memories, but Venom spreads through his whole body quickly as a reminder that they are here, they are whole.

“I guess I do. I mean shit like that happens.”

“Well… no, not really in this case.” she doesn’t push it further, just squints suspiciously. “Are you still eating tater tots?”

An understandable observation, as the recycling bin was full of tater tots boxes.

“Nostalgia?” Eddie tried.

Anne leaned in closer. “Eddie… is there something you’re not telling us?”

A sweat drop visibly rolled down Eddie’s face. He forgot how damp he gets with Venom around making his body like a damn steam machine.

“…Venom…he’s still around? Am I right?”

“Annie, that’s not really-“

“Guess I’ll just have to ask someone else then.”

Eddie swallowed a little confused. “Who else would know…? Other than Dan. I don’t-“

“Venom?” Anne cut Eddie short with a knowing smile dancing on the edge of her lips. “Are you there?”

And then the awkward silence set in and after the fifth second, they all knew who had the upper hand in this debate coming as no surprise. When it came to reporter work and getting people out of their shells, Eddie always knew how to push the right buttons, but in his relationships, he just didn’t know how to function properly.

“How?”

“We were going to get married. I can figure this much about you.” she looked at the man accusingly but there was no threat in her voice. “So this is why you didn’t want to see us.”

“She can sense us. That’s why we like her.” Venom purred into Eddie’s rib cage, feeling content.

“Yeah pal, she’s pretty amazing.” Eddie said in a hushed voice, but not quiet enough for Annie to miss.

She raised an expecting eyebrow, and Eddie finally let out a defeated sigh.

“Alright. Yeah, Venom is here.”

On cue, a little black blob appeared on Eddie’s shoulders, taking the shape of Venom’s head.

“Hi Annie. We told Eddie it would be okay to tell you. We missed you.”

“I… missed you too.” she said, surprising herself how easy that sentence rolled off her tongue. “I hope you’ve been keeping him in check.”

“Of course.” he smiled with his razor-sharp teeth.

Anne felt a surge of relief hitting her. She didn’t spend as much time fused with Venom as Eddie, but it gave an insight that the symbiote’s intentions are inherently good. As long as Eddie was happy, she was fine with it.

“Are you okay?” she asked again now in a new light.

Eddie didn’t hesitate to nod. “Honestly, a lot better than last week. There’s still stuff to figure out but… I guess this is it for now.”

“And forever.”

She parted her lips to say something else, but the sound of her phone vibrating in her coat pocket stirred the moment.

“Shoot. I better get going. But I’m glad that things are okay between you two. They are, right?”

Eddie found his voice and nodded. “Yeah, everything is good.”

“Okay. Well, if you need any medical assistance aside from an MRI, you can count on Dan.”

“Thanks Annie.” he said.

Anne watched the black slime mold back into Eddie’s skin like a sponge absorbing liquid. She supposed this is better than Eddie wallowing in self-pity and drinking away his days…again.

“Alright, call us if you need anything. I’ll let you know if Dan’s got anything with the rentals.” she opened the front door and stepped outside.

They said their short goodbyes, and Anne’s shoes still echoed off the walls after Eddie closed the door. Must be the bullet holes in the wood.

There was an odd silence. They were alone together again.

Hmm.

Too quiet.

“Knock knock? You can come out now.” Eddie cooed jokingly after a little while.

Nothing.

“Do you want a confession, is that what this is about?”

“We were right.”

“Wow, now you’re just rubbing it in buddy. Real nice. You knew that I knew that you were right.”

“We know everything.”

“Then why are we such a shitty team?”

“Because Eddie sucks.”

“I feel like this was established multiple times by now, parasite.”

“HEY! I’M NOT A PARASITE, TAKE THAT BACK!”

Eddie let out a laugh, but his insides jerked painfully. “Jesus Christ, alright drama queen, I’m sorry. Didn’t know that was still a sensitive topic.”

They let out a yawn and stretched until their joints cracked.

“Y’wanna watch a movie?”

“Don’t think parasites can watch movies.”

“I can’t believe you.” he turned the TV on nonetheless to browse through the channels.

They might be losing their apartment in a week, but Eddie Brock at least had a very whiny symbiote, his ex-wife, and her boyfriend to keep him company, so maybe life wasn’t as bad at the moment as it could be.

Chapter Text

A couple of days pass without any word from Anne.

Eddie didn’t want to pester her with phone calls, and Venom only agreed to staying put because they both felt that she will come through eventually.

They had trust.

That’s also a thing they’ve been working on lately among other basic living arrangements. Venom still had some trouble with expressing himself with words, so Eddie tried to explain and answer as many of his questions as he had the energy to.  

Basically, they were relearning how to be human. Building up the things they’ve lost.

Part of that arrangement was getting back into a decent work schedule, or really anything that would keep them a little occupied and would give Eddie some time alone. Work was a no alien zone.

There was always something happening in the world, or even just in San Francisco, and the main point of Eddie’s show initially was to uncover the greedy moneybags who exploit the small people. Who lie. The real bad guys – lucky for Venom.

After the long and graphic article unveiling the inhumane operations of The Life Foundation finally hit the news, the papers, and every media outlet possible, the world was in shock. Lewis was an honorable man, and gave the whole uncovering credit to Eddie, earning his redemption in public eye.

People were suddenly wondering where Eddie Brock went, they wanted him back, wanted him to keep uncovering the truths of San Francisco.

And now he was back in business.

Sort of.

“Where are we going?”

“You know where we’re going, why are you asking me?”

Eddie and Venom started their usual street bickering early on as they hurried down the main street

“We like to talk.”

Fair point.

“Okay, we’re going over to the demolished Life Foundation building for a follow up reporting. We’re not gonna do that today, I just wanted to see what’s still left.” Eddie said. “Also, breakfast and house browsing in case Dan is toast.”

“Dan is human.”

“Besides the point. Let me know if your elf eyes can spot a rental sign.”

They had no luck with the newspapers, and the only place that called back didn’t allow any pets. That joke earned Eddie a new favourite one liner.

Come to think of it, he could still vaguely recall the cheesy TLC shows they used to watch with Anne, where families were house hunting in fancy expensive towns looking for a mansion with a private beach and stuff.

 “Eddie.”

“Yeah?” Eddie burrowed his hands in his jacket pockets.

They were walking down the main road, half eyeing food options for later.  

“Why are you thinking about a woman with no face?”

“A…a what? What the hell are you talking about?” he almost tripped in his own foot, not minding the onlookers who just see him talking to himself. “Also, why are you digging in my thoughts?”

“Your mind is interesting. We are bored.” Venom stirred in him, curiosity still lingering. “Who is she? We keep hearing people talking about a kitchen backsplash.”

Eddie abruptly coughed, almost choking on air. “Oh my god I never thought I’d hear these two words from alien lifeform.”

“Eddie don’t make fun of us, who is she? Why does she have no face?”

After composing himself a little, Eddie turned a corner and zipped up his jacket. “I just feel like we’re on like House Hunters, or something. The woman is the narrator.”

Venom dug into faint memories of Eddie connecting to this “House Hunters” he is unfamiliar with but remained just as confused as before. Sensing this, Eddie laughed to himself and coughed to disguise it.

“I’ll show you when we get home. Basically, it’s a bunch of people looking for a new house, and a real estate agent is showing them different options.”

“Is Anne going to be our real estate agent?”

“Are you stupid?” Eddie snickered and in return they almost walked into a pole.

“Not like we would know what a real estate agent is, Eddie.”

“Fine, fine…”

Then a moment of silence, but it was too late, Venom’s thoughts have spread across his mind and with the help of some background knowledge, they started coming up with the plot of a new episode.

“Today on House Hunters: Invasion, Eddie and Venom were looking for a shitty apartment downtown San Francisco with a total budget of five dollars.” Eddie said mockingly in a high-pitched voice.

Venom hissed which was meant as amusement. “We didn’t know Eddie can be funny.”

“Oh yeah well you’d be surprised, pal. I’m actually hilarious.”

“You’re good at hiding it.” the symbiote bickered and wrapped comfortably around his host’s insides, feeling their energy slowly burning away.

Eddie’s stomach grumbled. “Ya hungry right? Let’s get something to eat now. We could-…”

A woman bumping into her cut his sentence short, and it wasn’t looking like she was turning around to apologize anytime soon.

“What the-“

Another person pushed against him, and suddenly a swarm of people came rushing down the road, ignoring the angry drivers who were stuck in traffic.

“Hey, what the hell is going on?” Eddie yelled at a guy who was trying to push through with his phone clutched in his hand.

“Dude, the construction site is on fire.” he hurried away with no further details, disappearing into the crowd.

“Hmm?” Venom perked up and spotted the smoke high up in the air above the buildings and near the base of the Golden Gate. “It’s the Life Foundation building.”

Eddie didn’t hesitate and started hurriedly pushing past pedestrians as well. Crap, just when they got the permit of the construction crew. He was pretty sure Carlton was hiding some weird shit deep under the building or something, but who knows what will remain after another fire.

 “Alright buddy let’s go, help me out here. But take it ea-“

Eddie didn’t like being interrupted, but he disliked being interrupted by his alien symbiote flinging him into the air at the speed of sound to the horror of some onlookers.

“Great.”

The dark velvety skin materialized thickly against his skin, protecting against the wind and the pressure. It took mere seconds to get on the top of buildings, pushing themselves against the roof for leverage.

“You’re welcome.” Venom smiled – although it wasn’t exactly possible for him not to smile at any given instant considering his mouth shape.

“We can do this a little gentler next time.” Eddie swallowed, and even though his body couldn’t feel much of the outside impact, he was very aware that they were now climbing the pillar of the Golden Gate Bridge at a violent speed.

“Uuuuh hey, V.” Eddie looked down at the familiar waters with unease. “Careful.”

They got up on top the pillar, looking directly at building engulfed in flames, crumbling into the ocean. Faint sirens approached in the background, which meant probably the police, the fire brigade, or both. Lots of them.

Venom held a firm grip on the red pole, taking a moment to appreciate the view.

“We are guessing we are not going there anymore.”

“You got that right. But we’re still gonna investigate tomorrow. Now can we please get to ground level.”

“But it is nice up here. We can feel our heart beating.”

“No shit, if it wasn’t I would be dead.”

“What do we do now?”

“Uuuuhhhh, maybe we can start with getting the fuck down? Then we’ll go from there.” he banged against the protective dark skin that was covering him with a slow fear eating at his stomach with the sound of the crashing waves down below. An unpleasantly familiar sensation that brought up recent memories.

“Like this?” they pushed away from the pole, only to lunge themselves back up again into the air, way above the pillars.

 “VENOM I’M SERIOUS, GET US DOWN!” Eddie shrieked, his voice cracking in the process of trying not to completely freak out.

“We are on the way.”

Venom grinned, enjoying the adrenaline flowing through their body and proceeded to flip around mid-air to swan dive for the rest of the way down.

They stuck their tongue out like a dog leaning out a car window, enjoying this freedom and maybe also teasing Eddie about being afraid of jumping from twenty story buildings’ heights.

Despite all odds that Eddie’s mind conjured, they land safely near the foundation of the bridge closer to the burning building that the fire brigade was desperately trying to save. He wasn’t the only one thinking the building might have other secrets behind it.

“Do you want to go check it out, or no fire?” Eddie nudged him, still a little shaky.

“No fire.” Venom said, finally leveling a little with his host’s uneasy emotions that the symbiote just noticed as the adrenaline was flushing out of their system.

“Just take us home then, will you?” Eddie chimed weakly in the back of their brain, to which Venom actually listened to and soon they were on their way back to the apartment in relative silence.

Venom kept insisting on breaking through the window, since they are getting evicted anyway, but Eddie kept the leash tight and forced them to walk in through the front like normal people do.

Eddie pushed the door shut behind them, crashing on the couch with a loud thud. “It’s been like nine days since we almost died, can we just like chill for a second?”

“Are we in trouble?”

“Take a guess.”

“We are not?”

“Take another guess.”

“Why is Eddie so mean.”

“I’m not mean, I’m just saying think before you do stuff. Or no tater tots for a week.”

Suddenly his insides jerked painfully for a moment, feeling a heavy weight on his lungs as Venom was stirring up a ruckus inside of him. He grabbed on to the chair at the kitchen table for support.

“Oh my god, V, you gotta calm down a little. Jesus. Warn a guy next time you throw a temper tantrum on our ribcage!” he gently massaged their chest after huffing for a few seconds, being left breathless.

“We did warn you before. Hurting Venom means hurting us. We don’t want us to get hurt.”

“Wow didn’t know not eating tater tots caused physical pain.”

Eddie took off his jacket and ran his fingers through his hair that was damp due to sweat, feeling like a jerk. He could abruptly feel Venom’s feelings surfacing within his own; concern, worry, fear. Even if it was over something so trivial – though the symbiote begs to differ – like tater tots, Venom has never really felt restrained in this host. In Eddie. With Eddie. So, it would make sense for him to freak out a little bit.

Eddie didn’t want to betray Venom like that.

He let out a sigh. It’s been getting harder to distinguish the line between their thoughts in this shared subconscious, sometimes leaving Eddie at a loss of decision.

“Alright, I’m sorry I take it back. But can we set some things straight?”

Venom hummed in Eddie’s skull, finally calming down. Drama queen.

“Okay, cool. Point number one. You can’t just completely lose your shit whenever we have an adrenaline rush.”

“Why not?”

“Well! Because! I don’t like it.” he concluded eventually, but that’s not really what he wanted to say. Venom easily picked up on it.

There was a gentle nudge in their thoughts. “Tell the truth, Eddie.”

“Man, I was scared okay? And no, it’s not because I was a pussy this time, I mean not like that was ever a thing, but the point is… humans sometimes forget to feel things when they are high on adrenaline.”

“That’s good yes? No fear?”

“No, because then you’re a mess after it drains outta you.” a rush of fear ran through their body and Venom momentarily froze, making Eddie shiver.

Eddie tugged on the sleeves of his hoodie to cover his arms.

“We… we see.” it made more sense now that they could think more clearly together after the rush was gone.

Now that Venom knew what he was looking for, he could easily distinguish the real fear that Eddie felt from the mixture of scrambled emotions. He snaked through the tie that for some reason connected today to their memory of the clash with Riot, and just sat idly on it for a moment.

Eddie was subconsciously pushing some images into Venom’s mindspace about him falling, the impact of the cold water feeling like a thousand needles on his skin, alone, and hurting; right after both of them almost dying, and then Eddie losing Venom for real.

Starting the fall together, then falling alone right before the waves crashed into him.

The memory already started fading a little, but the panic stayed.

Eddie was used to being a mess, but maybe with someone else permanently around, he should start to make some amends, to express more of what he felt.

“So yeah. That’s why it’s a crap thing to do. I just don’t want you to do something and then regret it after, because my shitty human body couldn’t process things fast enough for you to know it’s bad.”

An uncomfortable feeling of guilt set in their stomach. Eddie started feeling a little nauseous.

“When we saw the fire, we understood. It reminded us of bad things. Never want to be separate again.”

Eddie nodded. “If I’m completely honest, when I thought you were gone after the fire, I did kind of freak out. It was an intense week, and right after the fight with Riot, maybe… I d’nno, I thought we were pretty cool for a sec.” he shrugged, still under the impact of his memories.

“Yes, we thought we were cool too. Still do.”

“Two negatives make a positive eh?” Eddie nudged at Venom jokingly, but as he finished the sentence, something started shifting in the right direction in his brain. Something clicked.

Venom could feel it. “We need Eddie and Eddie needs us. To be good and whole.”

A black mass formed under Eddie’s forearm, slowly sneaking down the sleeve of the hoodie and peeking out from the hole at the hand. Claw-like fingers stretched from the darkness and latched themselves between Eddie’s fingers, holding on tenderly.

“We will keep us safe.”

Eddie didn’t mind the contact at all, it was actually quite helpful.

“So, we’re afraid of the same thing then? Being alone?”

“Being without us.”

A sudden wave of calmness swept through their entire body. A mutual understanding that was lingering in the back of their head, but never clearly realized in the same manner finally hit home.

“We hoped you would realize that we want to give as much as we take. We are bonded because we have what the other needs.”

“Oh.” Eddie exclaimed dumbfounded and didn’t know what else he could possibly say. Or at least not right this moment.

“We thought you would sense it too. It is so clear for us.”

There was a tinge of sadness in the symbiote’s tone, Eddie felt speechless for a second as he processed the new information. So, it is specifically them. He’s not been afraid of falling alone, he’s been afraid of falling without Venom.

“N-no, I think I just… never thought of it like that.” he realized that might have sounded a little hurtful. “Sorry, I mean stuff works differently in my brain than yours. You are an alien.

“So are you.”

That left a comfortable room for any misunderstanding to find its place and get untangled by a newly shared emotion of curiosity and recognition.

Their consciousness working from both sides started to get a little heavy; Eddie could feel a migraine creeping up.

“Uh, V? Can we figure the rest out later?” he put his fingers over his temple, massaging gently to ease some pressure.

“Of course, Eddie. We didn’t want to cause any discomfort.” Venom curled around Eddie’s nape, working relaxing strokes under his skin to up their blood flow.

“Thanks, bud.”

Mutual appreciation rang like a wind chime in their brain. The invisible but inseparable bond between them tightened, and this time, Eddie could feel it too. He started to understand Venom’s struggle with words, because there was no way he could form coherent sentences describing this feeling.

One thing was for sure.

“We didn’t actually end up eating anything.”

“Hungryyyyyy.”

“…tater tots?”

“Yes.”

He didn’t feel he had the capacity to do anything more complex than putting 46 frozen potato balls into the toaster oven.

Waiting impatiently in front of the little glass window, Eddie felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.

“Oh, it’s Anne.” he said and answered the phone, trying not to sound like he was about to collapse. “Hey, what’s up?”

“Hi Eddie, do you think you could come over tonight? Dan’s got a few apartment options for you that he wants you to look at.”

“Sure thing. When does Dan get home?” he took out a ketchup bottle from the fridge.

“Around eight, does that work?”

“Yeah, we’ll be over then.”

Anne didn’t comment on the ‘we’ but paused for a second. “Are you okay to tell Dan?”

Oh. Eddie just automatically assumed that Annie would tell him. He could feel Venom getting a little impatient hunger-wise, so he quickly nodded. “Yeah, I think it will be fine. Listen, I gotta go now, but I’ll see you two later.”

“See you at eight. Bye.” and the line went dead.

Shit. He forgot to say thank you. Venom usually picks up on that, but he was too busy forming tendrils around the toaster oven, ready to devour all 46 tots in one go after the timer went off.

Eddie sighed and sat down on the stool. “And this is why we’re not dating Annie.”

Chapter Text

When Eddie said that meeting Dan would probably be fine, he didn’t really think it through; he was mostly just stalling until Venom finished stuffing his face with tater tots, so they would feel less like wet, unfolded laundry.

Oddly enough, even after lunch he still felt calm about it. There were still a couple of hours before eight, so they decided to take a short nap to look a little more alive and Eddie figured he’d start freaking out later.

“We’re taking the bike, by the way,” he said, curling up on his side in sweatpants and his favourite hoodie.

“Good. We like the bike.”

“It’s not even the same bike, since you trashed the first one,” Eddie said through a yawn.

“We saved your life,” Venom reminded him with a harmless growl that Eddie quickly dismissed.

“No way.”

“Yes way. Don’t argue.”

“Didn’t know ya had a mom mode.” Eddie closed his eyes, feeling exhaustion creep up on him – a downside of two occasionally conflicting people in one body.

Venom settled quietly just underneath on the surface of Eddie’s skin like a protective blanket.

“Wake me up when it’s time to go, yeah?”

“Of course,” came the low purr, dragging out the last syllable into a hiss.

Within moments, Eddie was snoring. Venom kept vigil, slowly eating away at the chemicals his host’s body released while his mind was in its rest period. Sometimes Eddie would dream about funny things - those chemicals were delicious -  but sometimes they tasted like poison, unpleasant and unwelcome.

Eddie’s nightmares often arrived hot on the heels of sleep, and Venom tried his best to ease them, but dreams were an unstable domain that neither of them fully understood, so it was difficult. He usually enjoyed fear and unease, but never from Eddie.

They rested with their connection pulsing gently between them in the background, a reminder that they weren’t alone.

And they never would be.

 

***

 

 

Anne Weying got out of her car into the chilly evening air.

She had gotten off early from work today and knew that Dan had also taken the day off for their usual date night, which had now turned into a dinner slash discussion with Eddie.

Dan had been very understanding about the whole situation, which she appreciated beyond words; from the amount of help he  had offered to Eddie at the hospital, to staying by Annie’s side without once questioning her faithfulness, and now helping Eddie with apartment searching.

What ever did she do to deserve him?

Get fired, break up with her fiancé, and get possessed by an alien symbiote thereby ultimately assisting in saving the world, she supposed. Right.

Still, there was no remorse, no guilt, no anger left – she got her resolution in the midst of the chaos that was the last week. Anne feeling oddly calm about things, especially now that she was certain that Venom was still around.

Which was crazy, right? She should have been upset, worried, concerned, that there was a bloodthirsty alien still living inside Eddie… but she wasn’t.

She so badly wanted to feel guilty for thinking “he’s not my problem anymore”, which was also a tacit acknowledgement that Venom was the one who was responsible for Eddie now, a terribly fucked up conclusion. But after merging with the symbiote, their thoughts had harmonized in a back and forth flow of questions and answers. She had felt the way Venom felt, and vice versa.

“Pull your shit together, Anne,” she mumbled to herself before unlocking the front door and swooping in from the cold breeze.

This was going to be an interesting night.

 

 

***

 

 

Seven thirty came around sooner than either of them had anticipated.

Venom could barely get Eddie out of bed, despite his best efforts. He was starting to get very hungry from the idleness and did not want to start snacking on Eddie’s internal organs.

“Eddieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Get up, we are hungry.”

Tendrils formed around Eddie’s arm and legs, trying to move him like a puppet.

“I’m awake, holy shiiiiiit-” he mumbled and rubbed his eyes to chase the sleep out of them.

“We will be late. Also, we want to eat something before we go,” Venom grumbled against Eddie’s temple, curling around his arteries to get their blood flow going.

“Alright princess, I’m up.” he pushed himself off of the mattress.

They picked out a decent outfit, grabbed their helmet, and took off with a pitstop at the McDonalds drive through.

“You can have a Happy Meal, but you have to behave at Anne’s, okay?”

“Yesss, Eddie. We want a Happy Meal.”

“And you will behave?”

“Yes.”

“I’m holding you to that.”

Turns out it’s easy to eat and drive a motorbike at the same time when you technically have four hands and two mouths. They sped through evening traffic and arrived at Anne’s building ten minutes before eight.

“Alright, don’t make fun of Dan too much. And don’t talk out loud until we’ve established that he’s cool with the whole alien thing, okay?”

Venom sulked, more so about not being allowed to make fun of Dan than over Dan’s opinion of them. Eddie took that as an affirmation and rang the doorbell. About than ten seconds later, they heard hurried footsteps thumping down the stairs – and speak of the devil.

“Ohhh, heyyy, Dan the man! How’s it going?” Eddie went in for a lowkey handshake as the door opened, which Dan returned as firmly and politely as ever.

He was wearing a white apron over his fancy polo, but still managed to look spotless. Eddie kinda hated it, but knew at the same time that it just reinforced the fact that Dan was better than him. Venom gave an dissatisfied growl.

“Hello Eddie, come on in.” Dan ushered him upstairs and through the apartment door. “Dinner is just about ready, hope you’re hungry.”

“Oh, I didn’t… I would’ve brought something if you guys had told me we were gonna have dinner.” Eddie shifted a little uncomfortably, feeling out of place as Dan closed the door behind him.

“Don’t worry about it, Eddie! It was actually Anne’s idea to have dinner together.” Dan glanced over at the woman standing in front of the stove - she gave an awkward wave and smile. “It’s better to go over adult stuff with a full stomach.”

I agree– totally, you’re right.” Eddie coughed, thumping his chest a couple of times with a violence that was meant for Venom. “The air, wow, so dry tonight.”

Dan looked around, a little confused. “It is? Huh… Anne, I told you we should’ve bought a humidifier.”

“Oh, come on sweetheart, it gets humid enough in here without it.” she turned the stove off and walked over, hooking an arm around Dan’s. “How are you, Eddie?”

“Me? I’m doing great, yeah.” he nodded for extra emphasis.

He certainly wasn’t going to open with “hey, remember the guys who tried to take over Earth the other week, yeah, one of them is still hanging out but it’s cool because he’s a giant loser.” He definitely felt a jab at his stomach as he finished that thought.

“So, I heard you went back to written journalism? I read your article from a couple of days ago – about the follow up on the education of the homeless. It was a great approach.”

Eddie’s stomach dropped a little, but true enough, it was his job. “Yeeah, yeah, that was kind of personal. Lots of good people out there on the streets. But thanks man, I really appreciate it.”

“He admires you. Your lifestyle. I can feel it,” Venom hums in Eddie’s thoughts.

“Well that’s ironic.” Eddie automatically said out loud and was promptly met with confused looks. “I-I meant the article, y’know.”

Anne just sighed and let go of Dan’s arm. She clearly wasn’t willing to push it. “Alright, everyone sit. I’ll bring the casserole.”

It took some time for Eddie to register that he hadn’t actually been in their house before, not really. It felt like a comfortable and loving home, maybe more than it had when he had lived there- but it wasn’t his place anymore to think of it as his own. He was oddly alright with that. Dan was a good guy, and if his perfectionist pretty boy ego hadn’t scared Annie off then that was that.

“’S a nice place, by the way. Love the redesign on the. Kitchen,” he said, trying to sound sincere after he and Dan had taken their seats at the table. “The kitchen backsplash.”

Dan blinked a couple of times but then nodded. “Thanks Eddie, I had it installed not so long ago, actually.”

“Pansy – I mean pantry. Pantry. Is there a pantry somewhere?” he pinched himself under the table.

“Y-yeah, it’s just right next to the fridge.” Dan turned around and pointed to the direction.

He could see Anne visibly trying to hold back a knowing smile which he assumed was meant for him, so he smiled back. When Dan turned back around Anne locked eyes with Eddie and buried her face in her palm, then went to grab the casserole with a pair of heart patterned oven mitts that had probably been a gift from Dan.

“Don’t touch the dish, boys, it just came out of the oven.” Anne put the giant dish in the middle of the table and finally sat down.

“Help yourself, Eddie. Hope you’re hungry.” Dan offered a friendly smile.

“Starvinggg.”

“Are you getting a cold?” Dan immediately picked up on his hoarse voice. “Any symptoms of muscle pain, or strong headaches?”

Eddie cleared his throat. “Yeah man, maybe, it’s the flu season or whatever. I’m great though, no problem. How have you been? Any crazy doctor stories?” Honestly, he assumed that what had gone down in the hospital between them would stand for a long time as the number one weirdest doctor-patient experience.

“Just the usual, nothing out of the blue. One of my patients had her son bring her Blueberry yesterday. Her canary, that is,” he added quickly. “We could open a zoo soon.”

“Haah, that’s so funny.” Eddie smiled, and tried to restrain himself from taking half of the casserole for himself.

“But, for real, Eddie. I’m sorry about the apartment. Anne told me and it’s just awful.” Dan glanced at Anne, who wore a matching sympathetic look. “I did ask around, and a friend of mine has a pretty good spot open just by Pine Road. I can show you later?”

“It’s near the-” Anne spoke up, but suddenly paused . “The, uh, lobster restaurant.”

Eddie could feel Venom’s low ringing laughter in his gut. “Good memories.”

A tense silence hung in the air, interrupted by the occasional clatter of cutlery.

“This is really good.” Eddie pointed at his already mostly empty plate.

“It’s Dan’s mother’s recipe.”

“Is your appetite still abnormal? Looks like you’re eating for two,” Dan joked, watching Eddie take his second full plate.

“Haha, yeah, you’d think.” Eddie hadn’t even noticed how much he was eating, and it wasn’t technically a no, so he hadn’t even lied.

What was more immediately concerning was the bubbling satisfaction emerging from his stomach, and he knew he should’ve been more specific about rules before they got here-

“It is very delicious and juicy.” A very obvious deep voice spoke up from Eddie’s general direction and Anne felt herself almost choke on a bite of casserole. They had been so close to not doing this at the dinner table, too.

“Eddie?” Dan spoke up, putting his fork down.

“Yeah?”

“You sure you’re okay?”

Venom finally took personal offense to that and decided to form a slick tendril out of Eddie’s shoulder, reaching over to the other side of the table and poking accusingly in Dan’s direction.

“I am keeping Eddie safe and healthy no matter what.”

“Oh my God.” Anne gasped.

“Dude, I told you to stay put until it was cool!” Eddie hissed under his breath.

“We did think it was cool! He asked, and you said yes!”

“That was a joke, smartass!”

Venom gathered more mass concentrated on his host’s shoulder and emerged as a tiny head, complete with the razor-sharp set of teeth, long tongue, and white cat-like eyes.

“How were we supposed to know?” He bumped his head mockingly against Eddie’s cheek.

“Wonder why Drake ever thought you guys were all high and mighty and superior when you suck this much at dinner parties.”

At the other side of the table, Dan shifted uncomfortably. “Anne. This is… happening, right?”

Anne sighed and nodded. “Yeah, it sure is.” She turned in his direction and put a hand on his shoulder. “Look, I should’ve warned you. I didn’t want to keep secrets, I just didn’t feel like it was my place to tell.”

“That Eddie still might be in life-threatening condition?” Dan raised a concerned eyebrow. “We have to take him back to the hospi-”

Anne took his hand in a firm grasp. “Baby, it’s okay. You just have to trust me on this one.”

Dan glanced back at the two still arguing like a married couple across the table, suppressing a shudder at the sight of rows of long, dripping teeth. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” Anne leaned forward and kissed him briefly.

Dan took a deep breath, fortifying himself, and did what he did best as a medical professional: adjust to unforeseen circumstances.

“Ahem.” He cleared his throat to grab the duo’s attention. “So… what brings…why are you two… you know. What happened?”

Venom bobbed his head towards Dan. “I grew to like it here.”

Eddie could feel through the connection that Venom was referring to him. “We kinda got stuck together after the whole Life Foundation incident.”

“It was meant to be.”

Dan was already confused. “So, what exactly happened at the Life Foundation?”

Anne awkwardly cleared her throat and stood up from the table.

“Why don’t we move to the couch?”

 

 

***

 

Dan did his best to follow the story, which started to take a coherent shape when combined with the Network’s article as most of his background knowledge.

He’d occasionally ask questions, but otherwise he listened. It made Eddie feel a bit too self-conscious; even working in his industry, not a lot of people did that. Venom helped him out with words when he was at loss and vice-versa.

“So that’s that.” Eddie finished off the story, having left some details out of course.

“So that’s that.” Dan repeated, and took a sip from his cup of ginger ale. “Honestly, I don’t even know how you cope with all of this. Just… wow.”

“We’re still figuring things out, but it’s cool.”

“We’re perfect.” Venom licked his sharp teeth, resting on Eddie’s shoulder.

“Also, don’t worry about the eating people thing. He’s actually obsessed with chocolate and tater tots.”

“They are delicious!”

“And now the apartment…” Dan shook his head. “Wow, Eddie, I’m glad we can be here to help you.”

Eddie was taken aback by the sincerity – Dan really was a great guy. “I appreciate it, I really do. Don’t know what I would’ve done without you two back then.”

“You’re not as bad as we thought you were.”

“I- uh, thank you?” He rubbed the back of his head.

“Don’t worry, he only likes losers so that’s a huge compliment,” Eddie said.

Anne crossed her legs next to Dan, putting a supportive hand on his knee. “Why don’t you show them the place, babe?”

“Right!” Dan fumbled for his laptop and put it on the table, so that everyone could see the screen. “I suppose if the size is the same…that’s not going to be an issue?”

“Nah, it’s fine.” Eddie suddenly yawned in sync with Venom, his symbiote’s tiny toothy maw gaping wide. “Come back in, sweetheart.”

Anne raised an eyebrow at the nickname, which Eddie didn’t seem to have even picked up on using. She let it go. Honestly, it was kind of cute how Venom curled around his neck and disappeared underneath his skin.

“Are you tired, Eddie?” she asked.

“I’m good, just still working out the sleep schedule that’s all.”

Dan pulled up the ad on his laptop and started a slideshow of pictures. “Here we go. The floor’s been recently redone, and overall it’s in good shape.”

The apartment was indeed in good shape, with a similar brick wall arrangement as in their current place. It had some furniture already installed, nothing too extra – a pretty standard San Francisco apartment.

“Show the kitchen.”

“Don’t you dare.”

Dan just clicked on the next picture. “Here.”

“Eddie look, there’s a kitchen backspla-”

“Stop with the kitchen backsplash! It’s the only thing you know from the show!”

“Are you talking about House Hunters?” Anne asked incredulously.

“Do you…by any chance still have the DVDs?”

Anne hesitated for a second. “I’m pretty sure I do. Is he like, obsessed?”

“Eh, long story.” Eddie shrugged and sighed, but a promise was a promise and he could already feel his symbiote stir with anticipation.

“I’ll go take a look.” she stood up and disappeared into the bedroom.

The slideshow finished, and Dan closed it, so Eddie could look at the detailed overview.

“So, what do you think?”

“Wha-what do I think? This looks perfect. The rent isn’t even that bad. A friend of yours owns it?”

“Colleague, actually.”

“I see.” A brief pause, but there was still no sign of Anne. “Look. I just wanted to say that you’re a really cool guy. And I’m glad Anne has you. I, uh, don’t want to interfere in what you guys have. You’re doing way too much for me.”

Dan flashed him a reassuring smile. “It’s what friends are for, Eddie. I know she cares about you, I just want her to be happy.”

“Yeah. Thanks. Thank you.”

 “Hey, I found five of them.” Anne returned with five cases in hand. “But I’m sure you can download the rest. Isn’t it on Netflix?”

Eddie jumped a little at her sudden appearance. “I don’t want to spoil him, he’ll get used to it.”

“Hey!”

“Alright, I’ll pack them up for you.” she grabbed a bag.

“You’re the best.”

“Are you guys done with apartment shopping? How do you like it, Eddie?”

“Yeah, I mean, it’s great. Love the place. Right, V?”

“It’s nice.”

“I’ll call Dr. Bennett tomorrow to confirm with him. Let me know if you want a little tour before finalizing.” Dan closed the laptop and let out a small yawn. “Boy, time sure flies.”

“Yeah, I think it’s time for us to go home.” Eddie stood and stretched, feeling Venom spread out in his limbs to wake them up. “Thanks for everything again, really.”

“We like to know that you’re okay.” Anne offered a genuine smile and gave Eddie the bag full of DVDs.

“You have my number if you need anything,” Dan said and stood next to Anne, wrapping his arm around her waist.

“Right, well, have a great night you guys. See you around.”

“Byeee.”

He slipped his shoes and jacket on, grabbed his helmet, and gave one last friendly wave to the couple.

“Take care, Eddie!” Anne waved back and watched him disappear out the door.

She let out a long sigh and leaned back into her boyfriend. He just held her in a gentle embrace and kissed her temple.

“You were right. They’ll be fine.”

Outside, the weather had turned from chilly to cold, but Eddie couldn’t feel it either way due to Venom’s protective coating underneath his skin.

 “That was too much normal people chat, talk to me.” he put his helmet on and revved up the bike, ready to go.

“Aw, did you miss me?”

“Kind of, yeah.”

Venom purred like a satisfied cat inside Eddie. “You know we are always here.”

They roared down the main road, almost free of traffic at this time of night. There was exhaustion hanging between them, but a good kind.

“We are getting a new home together.”

“I mean, we already had one.”

“It’s different.”

“Yeah, ‘suppose you’re right.” he took a sharp corner.

“Just like how Eddie is home for us.”

Eddie paused for a second, a joke about Venom being a shitty college roommate lingering on his tongue, but he held it back. He instead just concentrated on the warm feeling spreading through his chest, Venom’s emotions pulsing in their connection.

“Yeah. Our home.”

 

 

***

 

 

That night, while Eddie was asleep, Venom quietly unlocked the laptop sitting on the bedside table and put on the first season of House Hunters.

Chapter Text

“So, Mr. Young, is there no way that your company was at fault for yesterday’s blaze of glory?”

“I assure you, Mr. Brock, everything was according to code.”

Eddie was sitting on an uncomfortable swivel chair in a make-shift office with the CEO of the construction company responsible for the demolition on the remainder of the Life Foundation building.

“And what can you tell me about the safety protocols? Everything was logged and recorded, right?”

“Of course, we take great pride in our flawless records, but unfortunately some of our documentation was lost due to the fire,” Young explained, adjusting his (ugly) tie.

“From what I have here, your company has been directly hired under the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, right?” Eddie clicked his pen and jotted a few words down in his notebook.

“Yes, but-”

“The BCCI has been hired before by the Board of Supervisors in 5 cases, all of which lead to legal issues but none of them received any consequential charges or were ever further investigated.”

“That is debatable-”

“Oh, and look at that, the average salary for a member of the Board is roughly $150,000 annually, could easily cover my rent for twenty years, and maybe a few governmental mishap cover-ups, but let’s get back to the point.” Eddie gave a sly smile.

“This has nothing to do with the yesterday’s incident, Mr. Brock.”

“And it also has nothing to do with the fact that a transfer of $850,000 was issued by the Bank of San Francisco to your personal account two days ago, Thursday at 1:32 p.m. Now these kinds of transactions need a personal signature at the branch, and Malia Cohen – who, might I remind you, is a member of the Board of Supervisors –  just so happened to be at the Market Street branch at 1 p.m. sharp. The branch that this transfer was issued from.”

The CEO stuttered, face glowing bright red and unable to say a word, and Eddie continued.

“Don’t ask how I know, that’s my job. So, it looks like the government cares more about covering up some mistakes rather than learning from them. The Network’s article only scratched the surface, woulda’ been nice to know all the details, don’t you think?”

“I…” was all Mr. Young could manage as his whole life and all his shitty choices flashed before his eyes.

“Glad we agree. Thank you again for your precious time, have a good day.” Eddie hit stop on his audio recorder and patted the man’s shoulder, trying to give him a sympathetic smile – emphasis on trying.

He walked out the door, leaving a silent ghost of a man behind.

“Can we come out now?” Venom grumbled wearily against Eddie’s chest.

“Yeah, buddy.”

“He was a bad man. Don’t understand why we couldn’t eat him.”

“Sometimes it’s better to watch them squirm a little more. He’ll get what’s coming to him sooner or later.” He shrugged and put his notepad away in his right back pocket, pulling a really mushy sandwich from the left one. “Ready to go see our new place?”

“Yeeesss.” Slick blackness overtook the pale skin on Eddie’s arm like tar and took the sandwich with a goopy tentacle. “For us?”

“Figured you’d be hungry. Reward for letting me do my job, has Nutella n’ bacon in it. Go ham.” Eddie shook his head with a smile at the disgusting combination and approached his bike, which was parked just outside the demolition area.

“Nutella, bacon, AND HAM?” Venom consumed the whole thing in one quick bite, the soggy bread not standing a chance against his razorblades for teeth.

Eddie laughed out loud and put his leg across the bike’s seat, all set to go. “It’s a figure of speech, love.”

“Would be good though. Next time, we will try.”

“Not with my mouth, thank you.” Ending the discussion on that note, they were on their way, leaving behind crumbling stones and bureaucracy.

 

 

***

 

 

Dr. Bennett was a very average man.

He looked like if you had taken all the characters from Grey’s Anatomy and put them in a blender and poured the result out into a Play-Doh mold, and this was superb for multiple reasons:

  1. Venom would not even try to bite this man’s head off – the resemblance to Dan was too great
  2. The change from shitty landlord to most likely always unavailable due to hospital stuff landlord was going to lessen Eddie’s headache count – also there would be no surprise visits that could bust Venom for setting the toaster oven on fire
  3. List of reasons TBC – after all, they’d only known the guy for a total of five minutes

 

After Eddie contacted the number that Dan had given him, Dr. Bennett replied almost immediately, and offered them a tour of the apartment the next day. He seemed eager to set up the meeting, and Eddie was not complaining with the deadline hanging around his neck.

“Dan has helped me plenty of times before, it’s only fair if I return the favour,” said Dr. Bennett when Eddie asked about the fast pace.

“Yeah, no kidding. He’s a real helpful guy.” Eddie supposed it wasn’t the worst quality for a doctor to possess.

It was a quick visit, lots of semi-awkward small talk about how Eddie knew Dan, but Dr. Bennett seemed like a generally likeable person, and that was more than enough. The apartment was on the second floor, and had a tiny balcony facing the street. Really, it was the height of luxury compared to the crumbling walls of Eddie’s previous building.

The living room was connected with the kitchen, the faux-wood backsplash keeping the two separate – Venom almost got too excited about that.

It had a bedroom, a bathroom, a closet, and a storage room. A perfect fit.

Dr. Bennett walked Eddie through the rooms and explained some uselessly accurate measurements, Eddie merely nodding at everything he said.

 “There was a rumour that the previous tenants spread about ghosts in the apartment,” Bennett mentioned during their brief tour of the apartment. “They claimed it was haunted, or something silly like that.”

“Haunted?” Eddie had no clue how to feel about the supernatural now after having encountered it, or at least something like it; Venom had also been oddly quiet while listening to the exchange. “I’m sure it’s just a rumour.”

Turned out, that was literally Dr. Bennett’s biggest concern, and he was afraid the apartment wouldn’t sell. So, the deal was sealed pretty quickly: they signed the lease the same day, and he even let go of the initial deposit on a “my friend’s friends are my friends” basis.

“We should call Dan,” Venom suggested after they were done with all the paperwork, on their way back to their old apartment.

“Yeah, you’re right. We owe him big time.” Eddie smiled, thanking Venom with gentle reassurance for the reminder.

It was high time for some changes and amends.

 

 

***

 

Bennett handed Eddie the keys to his new apartment the day after signing all the papers.

Since Eddie was a freelance journalist at this point, they had plenty of time to pack up whatever was left in the old apartment and haul it over to the new one. Dan helped them during the first couple of evenings to drag some boxes over along with larger pieces of furniture, or whatever was left of them.

By the end of the week, the old place was pretty much empty, and Eddie returned his keys to the rental office without batting an eyelash.

Walking into this… strange new flat still kinda felt like he was stepping into a hotel room. Not quite his yet, but it had a sense of home. It was much quieter and more open, a welcoming change. Although glancing through the empty space, a lot was still missing.

 “We’re gonna have to go to IKEA for a new table and stuff. They have pretty good meatballs too.” Eddie said as he finished folding the moving boxes he borrowed from Anne.

“IKEA?” The question rang through Eddie’s mind, dripping with curiosity. “Meatballs?”

“Shit, okay, we’re going right now.” He grabbed his helmet (which he didn’t even really need) and roared through the city and across the bridge to get to the nearest store.

It was a Wednesday midday, so the IKEA was mostly empty, much to Eddie’s relief. He wanted Venom to have this special experience without other shoppers around to harsh their IKEA vibe. They started small, with general stuff like new plates and toilet brushes, but it turned out Venom had quite the eye for interior design, and Eddie soon found himself being literally dragged from section to section.

 “No, Eddie, those curtains don’t go with the BJURSTA table at all.” Venom took over their hand before even touching the dark blue textile.

Eddie frowned. “How the fuck can you pronounce all the Swedish gibberish perfectly, but I still had to explain what a dishwasher was.”

“Oh, we should also get the RÖNNSKÄR for the bathroom.” Venom was clearly not paying any attention to Eddie; he was enjoying himself way too much.

“Hey, we’re only getting it if it’s on sale!” Eddie tried to slow them down, he was already hauling a cart full of stuff that he wasn’t sure how they were going to take back on a motorcycle.

Venom grumbled but continued the search for the perfect colour for their living room curtains. They did end up getting lost several times, even though they followed the arrows on the floor.

“Eddie no, the bedroom section is over there.”

“I’m pretty sure we already went past it.”

“Can we just climb on top of the-”

“No, no climbing on top of anything. Here.” Eddie stepped up to one of those HELP desks where they kept the paper, rulers, and pencils, and took a map. “This will help.”

It did not. But they figured it out eventually. With an aching back, they finally rolled into the marketplace and towards the checkout. Venom had been talking almost the entire time, and was now contentedly humming along to a song stuck in Eddie’s head.

“You’re really enjoying yourself.”

“Yes, we like this. Good store.”

“I’m glad.” Eddie smiled, genuinely happy that Venom was finding more things to like besides eating.

“Where are the meatballs?” The symbiote rushed to the top of Eddie’s shoulders, gently massaging them from the inside and feeling some of the tension and soreness let up in the muscles.

“Mmm, I’ll show ya. Let’s pay first.” Eddie hummed gratefully at the gesture, a gentle appreciation flowing through their bond. “We can come back if we forgot something.”

They rolled the heavy cart to the checkout, where the cashier gave Eddie a mildly concerned look.

“And would you like to take advantage of our home delivery service today, sir?”

Eddie shook his head with a polite smile, putting the last item into the fourth giant blue bag. “Nah, that’s alright. That will be on credit.”

The clerk just nodded and was ready to further push his assistance, but then watched as this man picked up all the bags at once and hurried away towards the restaurant without showing any effort whatsoever.

“Why is the man wearing gloves inside?” The voice of a little girl caught their ears, but her mother hushed her, smiling at Eddie as he walked past.

“Huh? Gloves?” Eddie looked down at his hands, which he hadn’t noticed were covered in black goo. “Oh, thanks, V.”

“We like holding hands.” Venom purred into Eddie’s ribcage, strumming it like a harp in a gentle wave of affection.

“Oh, so they’re not even for carrying the stuff? I’ve been cheated.” Eddie laughed as he stood in line at the cafeteria and got lost in thought for a second. “Can you make them fingerless?”

“If you want.” In the blink of an eye, the blackness retreated from Eddie’s fingers, leaving them free to breathe.

He smiled, admiring them. “Cool. Thanks babe.”

“No problem, love.”

Eddie ordered two plates of the meatballs with mashed potatoes and vegetables, because God it had been a while since he’d even looked at a vegetable. Venom was not a fan, but he didn’t complain. Time had flown by them like a rocket, and by the time they were finished, the sun had just begun to set.

“Time to head home, yeah?”

“Can we assemble the RÖNNSKÄR tonight?”

Yes, they did end up getting it. No, it was not on sale.

“Sure, I mean if you’re up for it.” Part of the IKEA experience was never wanting to go back to IKEA after ten hours of furniture assembly, so it sounded like a plan.

Venom’s extra arms came in handy in balancing the blue bags on a small motorbike, which earned them more than a couple of glances along the way – but it was a quick ride, and neither of them cared. Eddie was more focused on watching their hands intertwine in this weird fingerless glove situation that made his heart skip a beat. He blamed it on drowsiness.

Although they didn’t end up assembling the RÖNNSKÄR that night, the warm IKEA feeling stayed with Eddie anyway.

 

 

***

 

 

The apartment was slowly but surely coming together. Venom took up the habit of helping out with stuff outside of Eddie’s body, so even if Eddie was sitting at the table working away on an article, the dishes were still being done, or dinner was being prepped.

Anne sometimes called to stay in the loop, which Eddie appreciated – they would have calls on speaker, so Dan could join in as well. It was nice.

“So when can we come visit?” Anne asked one day, which honestly Eddie did not anticipate happening ever.

“Uh, I guess if you guys are free next week? We still have some stuff to put away.”

“Sure, sounds good, Eddie.” Dan affirmed with an audible smile.

So now the goal was also to make the place look nice for Anne and Dan’s visit– now that they had this little domestic chore arrangement, Eddie was less worried about it. He was mostly just concentrating on an article that he was scheduled to publish over the weekend, but these days, he’d rather think about other things.

“Are we putting away the dishes?”

“I’m gonna work on my article for a bit, actually.” Eddie stretched, and the lack of the usual bone cracking sounds threw him off a bit – Venom kept all his joints well-maintained and lubricated after all, he just couldn’t get used to it, at least not after roughly 20 years of snap, crackle, and pop. “But you can if you want to.”

“I will stay with you.” Venom shook his figurative head and settled into a comforting presence down low in Eddie’s gut.

There were a lot of things Eddie couldn’t get used to. How his hands weren’t cold no matter the temperature outside, or how stubbing his toe didn’t hurt anymore. He would still flinch and yelp when he stubbed it though. Eddie wasn’t complaining, but it had been difficult to process new reflexes in reaction to things he’d been used to his whole life.

“What are you thinking about?”

Eddie hummed as he settled more comfortably into the couch, opening a new document. “Just stuff.”

He began typing away for a few minutes, but then his fingers slowed down, eventually stopping and resting on the keys in position.

“Yes?” Venom poked at Eddie’s thoughts, anticipating a question.

“I’m just reflecting on what’s different.” He leaned back, looking up on the ceiling. “Hard to write when there’s stuff on my mind.”

“We are listening.”

 “I dunno, it’s good I guess. It’s good. Things are good.” Eddie shrugged. “Funny how you wanted to conquer the world like three weeks ago.”

“I did conquer it. Eddie is our world now.”

Eddie’s heart twisted in his chest, and this time it was not because Venom had done some weird shit to his organs.

Actually…a correction: it was exactly because Venom had done some weird shit to his organs, more specifically his heart, and had made him feel like this again even though he thought he never would.

It almost reminded him of the time he had left everything he had going on in New York just to move to San Francisco to be with Annie. In retrospect, that’s kind of what Venom had done with the whole ‘abandoning his home planet and their evil masterplan of taking over humanity’ thing. Eddie should not have been this surprised.

It had been in front of him the whole time, clear as day.

“I love you, Eddie.”

And then it hit him harder than Riot’s blade through his chest, although it felt hauntingly similar.

“Haha, yeah,” Eddie replied with a forcedly nonchalant smile.

Moments passed, and his smile slowly faded as the words finally landed on the concrete floor of his brain, his expression changing to reflect confusion and embarrassment at the realization.

Oh fuck. He’d really gone and done it this time, hadn’t he?

“Uuuuhhh.”

“Is something wrong?” Venom asked curiously but with a hint of worry, the same kind that had started building in Eddie’s chest. “Take a breath.”

So that’s what he did, feeling the air cleaning out some of the stress. “Sorry babe- man, I mean. V. God.”

“You can call me either of those.” Venom smirked with the intention of easing the pressure but got an angry pout in return.

“I’m trying to be serious here, and I don’t even know why I’m getting upset right now.” Eddie slouched down on the couch, feeling a comforting mass crawl down his arm and take his hand in a gentle squeeze that he sheepishly returned.

“We are scared.” Venom observed.

Eddie hadn’t even realized until he’d felt the emotions bubbling in his stomach like poison.

“Yeah, guess I am.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Are you? Or am I just making you feel this?”

“When you are unsure, we are unsure.”

“I’m not unsure, I just- damn it, now I just said I’m not unsure.” He laughed at himself briefly and took another steadying breath. “No one’s said that since… well, since Annie. I guess I just don’t want to fuck up another relationship. Or whatever we have.”

Things moved much faster when your person of interest was literally with you twenty-four-seven. He presumed they didn’t really need to even date. That would be weird, right? Venom already knew everything there was to know about him. Was he even Eddie’s person… symbiote of interest? Putting it in human terms was confusing.

 “You are trying to adjust to our way of thinking.”

“It’s only fair.” Eddie shrugged with a drawn-out, defeated sigh. “Listen, there’s no protocol for dating aliens… I mean I’m sure some weirdo has a grand plan all laid out just in case.”

There was certain intimacy about them that was already present, it had just become natural too fast for him to really catch up with it – sharing the same breath, the same heartbeat, even some of the same thoughts.  

“We are not dating, Eddie.”

“Guess not.” he nodded, trying not to feel disappointed.

“I believe this is what you would call marriage in human terms.”

Eddie almost choked on his breath. “Ph-fu- m-marriage?” He managed to spit out a few fragmented words. “This is- this is not working, something is getting lost in translation.”

“So, what do you suggest we do?”

“You know what, human stuff is way too simple for this, so let’s do it your way.” He put his hands together. “Show me how you feel. Do your magic, do anything.”

He finally gave up on trying to put this whole mess into words, realizing that might be impossible. No one on the whole planet has ever been in his shoes so why should he suddenly be able to come up with the right thing to say? There was a strong sense of trust between them, so Eddie would roll with whatever Venom thought would help convey this thing that was going on between them.

Eddie was fully expecting some symbiote soul-connection mumbo jumbo, so when Venom materialized almost in full form right in front of him, gently pressing him further down into the couch, he was extremely surprised.

“If you want.” Venom stared at Eddie with a searching look, but the other seemed lost – not to worry, Venom would find him again.

“Wha-“

And then silence.

Silence, as Venom’s tongue slid across Eddie’s mouth, as Eddie looked at him with wide eyes, and as cold teeth pressed against warm lips – a sorry excuse for a kiss, but the perfect one to short-circuit Eddie’s brain.

Can Venom even close his mouth?

Technically, Venom was just all mouth, tongue and teeth, all sharp around the edges, yet still delicate enough to almost melt onto his host, unsure where physical boundaries ended, and emotional ones began.

It was messy, and gross, and really fucking weird, but that had been them since day one, so there was really no other way of going about this.

Venom retreated, and to answer Eddie’s mental question, yes, his mouth was sort of closed now, but that just made him look dumb. They really were perfect for each other.

The symbiote leaned back into the contact, and as their mouths connected, he seeped in through Eddie’s skin, filling him up in a way no one else could, coating his mind, his heart, his lungs, making them whole once again.

“Yes?” Venom asked simply, seeking confirmation while poking at strings of Eddie’s thoughts, satisfied at the fast pace of his beating heart.

Eddie stayed in a breathless silence for a moment, processing and letting in all of Venom, then gently wrapped his hands around himself in a warm embrace. “Yes.”

There was really no need for human words, or even for alien mumbo jumbo. They stopped thinking, and started feeling, and it felt right, and like home.

They belonged right here.

Chapter Text

Nothing has really changed in the next couple of days.

Eddie was kind of afraid things would get a little awkward, but he realized soon enough that he felt just the same as before, and Venom didn’t seem to be bothered either. There was a little more touching, a little more intimacy; just things they were exploring along the way. The symbiote was merely cruising through his body with a satisfied purr, happy that they’d found each other again, in a different way this time.

Happy.

It was scary how quickly Eddie got used to that thought – usually there would be doubt or fear, but he felt content. Even after a phone call with Anne confirming their visit in a couple of days, he was sure everything would go just fine. He was actually kind of looking forward to it.

There were some initial hardships though, when Eddie finally sat down to think through preparations. He organized a chore sheet to make sure the apartment would be clean by the time the designated day, Friday, rolled around the corner.

And then it did.

Mornings would always start slow without coffee, or just in general really – thank God Eddie’s own personal alarm clock was there to save the day, and today was no different.

“Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. Eddie.”

Venom was perched on top of Eddie’s back in a layer of black, dripping down over his arm and holding onto his sleeping host’s hand. The goo was restlessly shifting, looking like it might spill over or drip on the bed anytime, but it never did. Venom wouldn’t have wanted to sacrifice any time that involved being in contact with Eddie.

“Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. We are hungry. And Anne and Dan are coming in eight hours.”

“Y’ sure got y’r priorities right.” Eddie burrowed his head deeper into his pillow with a groan. “It’s cold.”

Which was a lie.

He had ended up keeping his old bedframe, but after lying in all those ‘try me’ beds at the store, he’d decided it was time for a new mattress. His back and joints were singing odes to joy just after day one. The symbiote didn’t like dragging Eddie out of bed when he felt this good about staying in it, but duty called.

“We need to eat, Eddie.”

And with that, Venom almost completely engulfed Eddie into his dark mass, leaving his sleep-crumpled face exposed, and promptly got out of bed, planting his human in front of the fridge with a firm grasp on the handle. Eddie still went through an initial shock of surprise, even though this happened almost every day.

“Alright, wow, m’up c’mon!” Eddie let a yawn escape his mouth as he opened the fridge. “Can’t believe ya sometimes.”

“I’m here to help.” Venom bared his teeth in a satisfied smile, retreating back into his host.

“What d’ you want on your bagel?”

“Cream cheese please.”

“Sure.” Eddie nodded as he took out said item and butter for himself.

He threw two bagels into the toaster oven, doing a little morning stretch. Warm rays of sunshine flickered in through the living room curtains, illuminating the dark grey walls. It was really starting to feel like home in here.

He went on to cream cheese Venom’s bagel up real good and sat on the cushioned chair at the dining table.

“Here.” He held one of the bagels out while munching on the other one.

Without hesitation a giant, toothy mouth formed out of Eddie’s hand, closing over the poor piece of bread and making it disappear immediately; then the symbiote eased back under his skin.

Eddie knew he didn’t have to feed Venom outside of his body per se, but it was kind of funny to watch.

“Thank you.”

“No problem.” Eddie took a sip of his juice and watched with entertainment as Venom cruised along the outlines of the tattoos on his arm.

“You like this?” Venom asked with a hint of curiosity.

“It’s fun. My tattoos were never alive before.” Eddie poked at the skin and grabbed a notepad and a pen. “Alright, we gotta figure out what we’re gonna actually cook for Dannie.”

“Dannie?”

“Dan and Annie.”

“Like how we are Venom?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“They always make something nice for us. We should make something nice too.”

“Well that’s the plan, love.” Eddie replied, resting his elbows on their newly assembled dinner table, which still smelled like a mixture of fake wood and cardboard.

Initially, Venom had wanted to keep their old bullet hole-filled one, saying that it reminded him of good times, but Eddie had managed to change his mind after another IKEA trip.

“Anne likes seafood.”

“We’re not touching seafood for at least another four months.” Eddie shuddered at the thought, digging his phone up from his pocket, and googling ‘good dinner party food ideas’. “Plus, that’s rich people food.”

“But we have the magic card that lets us buy everything,” Venom argued.

“Big difference between debit and credit cards. We’re basically spending money that we don’t have, so we gotta be careful.” Eddie replied. Something caught his attention on his phone as he tapped away.

“Fine. So, what’s your idea?”

 “I have a feeling you might like chili.” Eddie typed for a second, looking through some recipes. “That’s something everyone could enjoy.”

“If you like it, I like it. Is that the one with beans?” Venom slithered up Eddie’s spine, playfully teasing the ragged ends of his hair with a clawed hand.

“Yup. We’re rolling into November already, it’s a good comfort food, dear.”

Eddie had no clue when his brain had switched to the cutesy pet names, but they felt right.

“If you say so.” Venom figured Eddie knew more about that, so he’d listen. He simply slipped his sharp claws deeper into Eddie’s hair, gently scraping along his nape and the back of his head, earning satisfied grunts from his host.

“Mmm, love when you do that.” Eddie let out a soft moan, feeling relaxed, sleep slowly crawling back into his system. “But we have to go shopping.”

Venom let out a disappointed growl but didn’t argue. “Can we get more Toffifay?”

“Sure. Finally moving on from Kit Kat?” Eddie slipped into his sweater laying folded on the other side of the table, now feeling semi-decent. Okay, he would put on jeans too.

“Yes, we like the caramel.” A long tentacle reached into the bedroom, dragging out Eddie’s jeans and plopping them in his hands.

“Thanks. Yeah, it’s pretty good.”

“Got the list?”

“Yup, on my phone.” He grabbed all their stuff, some empty bags and keys, and slipped out of the apartment.

 

 

***

 

 

They went to a bigger store this time, much to Mrs. Chen’s probable relief, but Eddie had just gotten his paycheque that morning so he figured they could be a little fancier for today.

Venom liked walking, there was always a lot to see in the city – too bad they’d moved away from the more crime-ridden streets so there were certainly not enough snack breaks. They did get lost a couple of times during the first week after moving in; or at least Eddie did. Venom was just enough of an asshole not to tell him where to go.

However, he was very fond of going to stores, so he more than gladly yelled the section names in Eddie’s head; shopping was pretty effective that way.

They got a cart and rolled up to their first pit stop, the produce section.

“Can you get some nice limes, please?” Eddie pushed on ahead to the onions while a not-at-all-suspicious looking string of black goo tapped on some fruits, grabbing only the firm ones and pulling them back into the cart.

“What do these taste like?” Venom poked at the green citrus.

“Heh, I’ll give you some at home.” Eddie grinned while selecting some garlic and red onions.

They went through the first half of the store relatively quickly, but then got stuck with the meat section, because Venom had to inspect almost every package just to mockingly point at them and tell them that they were, in fact, dead.

By the time Eddie took a look at a clock, they wasted almost an hour – which they could not afford, given the fact that they’d never made this recipe before. Or any recipe, really.

“Okay, let’s go through the list to make sure we got everything.”

“Onions and tomatoes?”

“Got ‘em.”

“Cheese?”

“Yep.”

“Butter?”

“Yep. Shit, we forgot some milk.”

“But it wasn’t on the list for chili.”

“I know, but we’re out.”

“Okay. Jalapeno and spices?”

“It’s jalapeño, but yes.”

“Ground beef?”

“Yes.”

“Kidneys?”

“You mean beans? I got them. If you mean my kidneys, I sure hope I do.”

“Who knows.” Venom straight up giggled and Eddie wanted punch themselves in the nose.

“Come on babe.”

“Or I can just eat something else.”

Eddie almost choked on his own breath, but quickly composed himself and pushed the cart towards the checkout in a hasty retreat. Oddly enough he felt a little confusion coming from within, realizing that Venom had probably meant something else and it was his own filthy imagination playing him like a fiddle.

“I mean Toffifays, Eddie, we still need to get them.”

Right. The tires of the cart screeched as Eddie took a sharp U-turn and went back to the chocolate section to stock up with at least three packages, still ignoring the poking questions in his brain.

“Why do you even like these?” Eddie asked just for the sake of asking.

“They are like you.” Venom said. “Chewy outside. Like to take my time to get to the crunch.”

Okay, that didn’t help at all. Nearby shoppers glanced oddly at Eddie’s flushed face, and the occasional muttering didn’t aid his case either.

“Let’s go.” Eddie pushed the cart towards a line-free cash register, still feeling the questioning and confused emotions fester in his chest.

They did forget to buy the milk.

 

 

***

 

The walk home helped soothe Eddie’s tangled thoughts and he finally took a deep breath. He still wouldn’t address any of the questions that vaguely formed in his head from his symbiote, and even he wasn’t sure why. Venom wasn’t pushing. Not yet.

Their mood promptly bounced back to a more relaxed state soon enough – the trip wasn’t that long, and Eddie could feel the soft pressure of Venom’s silky touch on his hands; always a nice perk.

As they got back to the apartment, Eddie unlocked the door. “I’m just gonna say it now, be nice to-”

“Be nice to Dan. We know.”

“Good.”

They stepped inside and put the bags full of groceries down, but the hands never retreated from Eddie’s, keeping him a tad distracted.

“Chocolate?”

Eddie looked at the time. “Go ahead. Food isn’t gonna be ready for a while.”

Venom took the initiative to scour the grocery bag for his beloved caramel goodness and shredded the packaging into pieces – and of course, neatly put them into the garbage after dumping all of the small treats into his giant chomper.

Certainly, things had gotten domestic around the apartment. Mr. Grey’s Anatomy had visited a couple of times to make sure everything was in working condition. The washing machine would often squeak, which he’d offered to fix, but Eddie had insisted that it was fine; other than that, everything seemed to be in order.

Eddie also began to make some effort towards incorporating a somewhat healthier diet into their daily lives, not to mention worked out a functional budget. Next to the three boxes of tater tots in the freezer, there was now some sort of frozen vegetable (one bag) and maybe even a (single) pepper in the fridge.

Hey, at least now Eddie was unpacking four whole jalapeño peppers, a can of diced tomatoes, and a very large onion onto the counter, so they were definitely getting somewhere.

A smaller Muppet-like Venom settled on top of Eddie’s head, nestling into his hair and watching his movements from above. Eddie let out a soft chuckle feeling the gentle pressure, suddenly struck by a sense of recognition.

“Have you seen the movie Ratatouille?” He asked without thinking.

“Yes, we watched it with Riot on my home planet.” Venom hissed like a snake mockingly, digging through Eddie’s memories on this so-called Ratatouille thing.

Eddie blinked a couple of times. “Oh my God, I’m an idiot.”

“If you’re waiting for me to disagree with you, we’re going to be here for a very long time, Eddie.”

“Alright smartass, I was gonna offer to watch it tonight, but I guess you’re busy.”

“No, we want to watch the rat movie!” Venom reached down to cover Eddie’s eyes out of spite.

“No, I’m blind, can’t look it up now.”

“Eddie!”

“Don’t worry, we’ll watch it after Annie and co. leave, okay?”

“Okay.” Venom finally settled back down into the nest of Eddie’s hair, peeking over to see the cooking process. “Can I help?”

“Why don’t you find a nice big pot and a lid while I chop some stuff,” said Eddie, opening the recipe on his phone just in case he needed to check the instructions; he took out a cutting board, the onions, and their best knife and prepared for the tears. “Hey, can you make me not cry from this?”

“Yes.” Venom stated simply as if it were obvious, while putting a decent sized pot on one of the burners and turning the heat up.

“Thank you.” Eddie nodded away, dicing the onions and then putting them into the pot with some butter and salt.

Next, he added the peppers, but left out some extra in case things got a little too hot.

“I will get the dead flesh.”

“How romantic.” Eddie watched as a slightly larger hand took the meat from the package and tore it up into the onion mixture. “Want to spice it up while I stir? Just don’t go overboard, love.”

“Yesss.” Multiple thread-like tendrils searched the shopping bags for the spices and tore them open with a quick motion. “Like this?”

Venom gently tapped the packages against the brim of the pot to allow some powder to fall in.

“You’re doing great.” Eddie stirred the sizzling red stuff with an encouraging smile and gave a thumbs up with his other hand when he deemed it sufficiently seasoned.

“This is fun. We should do this more often.” Venom flashed a toothy grin, snuggling up to Eddie’s cheek.

“Can’t believe you’d sacrifice some of your tots for actual food.” Eddie kissed where the other’s temple would have been while adding the tomatoes and leftover ingredients.

“Oxytocin and serotonin are much more delicious.”

Eddie paused for second, then laughed. “Bless you.” He reached over and turned the stove to a more moderate heat.

“We like it when you’re happy, Eddie.”

“I do too, y’know.” They stood there for a couple of seconds, a warm feeling spreading through Eddie’s chest, the echoes of his own laughter still ringing in his head.

The meat was sizzling nicely on the stove and it was relaxing to just take a moment of stillness. Eddie still remembered the days when Anne would cook, and he’d sneak up behind her to surprise her with a gentle embrace, watching what she was doing and clearly not retaining anything from it.

“Eddie?”

He shook his head and returned to reality, which was not that much different from memory. “Yes, love?”

“We want lime.”

“Right, almost forgot!” Eddie smiled, and went to chop up a slice of lime. “Alright, open up.”

The shark like mouth opened up unsuspectingly, and Eddie simply tossed the slice in with a knowing grin. Not even two seconds later, there were complaints.

“WHAT IS THIS. EDDIE WHY WOULD YOU GIVE THIS TO US.” Venom growled, sounding fully offended, trying to spit out the fruit while simultaneously sticking his dripping tongue out.

Eddie burst out laughing while trying not to get caught in the whiplash of spraying saliva and lime juice. “Hey, you asked for it, don’t blame me.”

“We thought we could trust you.”

“Aw, don’t pull that card on me, drama queen.” He scratched the symbiote’s chin affectionately. “Go get some more chocolate.”

Within a fraction of a second another Toffifay tray was emptied into Venom’s mouth, but the satisfaction evident in his crunching noises was worth it.

“Sharing is caring y’know.” Eddie squeezed some lime juice into the pot and put the rest away into the fridge.

He was about to turn back around, but Venom was faster, leaning right in to slide a half-chewed piece of chocolate into Eddie’s mouth with his tongue. Even though it lasted seconds, he took his time in making sure every inch of Eddie’s mouth was covered in sweetness.

Eddie just kinda stood there, shoving the enjoyment into the corner of his brain to be dealt with later – so he snorted and wiped the edge of his mouth, chewing on the candy. “Gross.”

“Sure.” Venom settled back onto his shoulders like a little angel (scratch that, devil for sure). “Are we done?”

“Almost. Still need cheese and to set the table. Do you want to grate the cheese?” Eddie asked, already handing the helping tentacles the grater and a block of cheddar.

Venom took them both but looked at the cheese with confusion. “Why don’t we just put in the whole block?”

“Uuuhh that would be gross, and it probably wouldn’t melt properly. Just grate it please.” Eddie shrugged – he wasn’t exactly a chef, but he figured that was a good enough explanation.

“Fine.”

While Venom was working away on the side, Eddie gave the chili a final stir and lowered the heat to a simmer as the recipe demanded. There was still about half an hour until Dan and Anne would arrive, so the timing was perfect.

“Oookay, throw in half the shredded cheese and the rest can go on top at the very end.” Eddie closed the recipe on his phone and stretched his muscles a little bit, reaching for the ceiling.

“Why did we not put in the other small peppers?” Venom poked at the leftover jalapeños sitting on the counter after lifting the lid on the pot and literally throwing the bits of cheese into it.

“Because we don’t want it to be too spicy.” Eddie said, attempting to swat the rolling pieces of cheese from the stove with a towel before they permanently scorched onto it.

“Anne likes spicy.”

“I know, but have you met Dan? He drinks ginger ale for fun.” Eddie shrugged. “They can still season it after if they want.”

“She also likes heights. You don’t.”

“Thank you, detective Venom, for this valuable insight. Anything else on the case file?” Eddie said in an obviously unimpressed voice, but there was no hurt in his tone; he was the one who’d thinking about it earlier anyway, so that was probably why Venom was prying at it.

“She was a boss. You were not.”

The symbiote let go of a pepper he was holding as Eddie made his way into the bedroom to change into something neater. “Well, technically I was my own boss kinda. And hey, she wasn’t really a-”

“Do you want me to be a boss?” Venom’s voice was now low and serious.

Eddie stopped mid-undressing so now he was tangled in his sweater’s arms – a good hiding spot to avoid showing his once again reddened face.

“What are you-” Eddie felt a forceful grip on his wrist that was just a little stronger than usual and his breath hitched in his throat.

 “Her personality was stronger. Do you like that? Do you want me to be like that?”

“We are not having this conversation right now.” Eddie swallowed hard, trying his very best not to feel super self-conscious just standing in front of the bed half naked, eventually having gotten out of his sweater prison.

“No need to be shy, Eddie.” Venom purred, sending shivers down Eddie’s back, sounding more prompting than reassuring. “We know what you like.”

“Okay, where is this all coming from?” He stuttered out, because that was better than awkward silence. “First of all, I like you the way you are, so stop comparing and do whatever you want.”

Venom usually did whatever he wanted anyway. But in this case, it was much more about what Eddie wanted. What he’d been keeping hidden from him.

“We want what you want.”

“M-me?” Eddie pointed at himself, playing dumb, only to suddenly find two bright white eyes staring back at him.

“You.”

Eddie took half a step back, but Venom pushed this time and a larger mass crawled out of Eddie’s chest, forming a shapeless torso and head. The shift of balance knocked Eddie back onto the bed in an awkward half sitting, half laying position, staring up at the blackness almost as if the symbiote was dripping all over him. It felt like touching, like every inch of Venom wanted to enclose him in a bubble of familiarity, togetherness, and pleasure. He wanted to give.

And there it was, the thought echoing in his entire body. Something he’d been not quite missing, but more seeking and avoiding at the same time. Venom was a good listener, clearly better at picking up on Eddie’s own damn cues than himself.

“What do you want, Eddie?”

The question rang through Eddie’s head like a wind chime. He was just about ready to open his mouth to stutter out a response, when the chiming grew louder. And more continuous. And it started to sound suspiciously like someone ringing a bell…

Doorbell.

Door.

Oh shit.