Chapter 1: Bare Your Teeth
Venom’s self-control is getting better. He’s content to wait, occasionally grumbling- food Eddie- as Eddie chops the potatoes. Steak, mash, and a salad; it’s nice to have the money to cook again- and a symbiote willing to wait.
“You’ll like this one.” Eddie murmurs, checking on the sauce. Dark chocolate, fresh red chili and red wine to render down. Venom pushes free from his shoulder, Eddie can feel him drool. “Don’t mess up my hoodie.” He prods Venom with the spatula. Venom bites it, and doesn’t let go until he’s licked it clean. Hrrrmmm. A purr of pleasure, deep inside Eddie’s ribcage.
Eddie examines the spatula. There’s a neat semi-circle of small holes in the plastic. He shakes his head, puts it aside, and goes back to the potatoes-
“Ow!” A sharp line of red along one finger. A stupid mistake. “This is all your fault.”
Venom peers down from their shoulder, then flows down in a sleek black wave, washing over their finger like the tide, then drawing back, leaving it unmarked. The skin is pink and smooth as it hasn’t been for years. Eddie pauses, and looks over his hand. He’s had scars there pretty much for as long as he could remember, from cooking, childhood adventures, fights-
-stop being such a tomboy, Lizzy-
Eddie shoves the thought away, as far as he can. The shadow of a punch, somewhere in his stomach. Not the first. Not the last. “You did that?” It’s a bit too loud, drowning out the echoes.
“…yes.” Venom emerges from his upper arm, probably wondering what all the noise in their shared head is about. “Did you like it, Eddie? I can put them back.”
Eddie clenches their hand, relaxes it, he’d never realized how the scar tissue had slightly restricted the motion in his hand until it was gone. “No, it’s fine Vee.” He hesitates. He doesn’t want to say it, but if Venom decides to be even more helpful-
We won’t, Venom must have felt his shock of horror at the thought. We won’t do anything. What is it we don’t want us to do?
Eddie presses his hand to his chest, the flat double scars curving across each pectoral. He doesn’t want to say it. He’s been so fucking grateful that Venom’s never asked, has always just- accepted Eddie, without question.
We won’t take them away. Venom still sounds lost. They are ours.
“S’not the scars.” Eddie grits it out. “Just- what used to be there.”
“But there isn't anything missing.” Venom emerges again, nuzzling his cheek.”We are fine, Eddie, nothing needs to be there.”
It’s like- air being let out of a balloon. Such an enormous wave of relief that he nearly drops the knife, half wonders if he’s going to melt into a puddle on the floor, like a symbiote himself.
“No.” Venom presses closer. “We can’t do that. Was it a cancer, Eddie? We saw that on TV.”
“You need to stop watching House.” Eddie is smiling. He can’t quite stop. God, he loves Venom. Loves him so much.
Venom must feel that, because a pair of arms push free from their sides, cross over their chest in a warm, lingering hug. Love. Venom purrs inside him, somewhere under his breastbone. Love love love Eddie.
And dear fucking god that feels good. As good as – better than- it was with Annie. Because Annie was never in here, with him, there was always this barrier- no matter how close they got- of two layers of skin and muscle and bone and assorted organs between them. And-
And the little double takes Annie sometimes did, it got better over the years but they were still there. Even up until the end, and Eddie always hoped this would be the last time. That flicker behind her eyes, trying to place him, the little niggling rabbit punches from even those who were closest of all, the reminder he would never be quite right. Quite normal. Quite what he knew he was, inside.
All the parts that were there, that shouldn’t be there, that should be there and were not. All that, reflected in Annie’s eyes.
She hurt you.
“She didn’t mean to.” Eddie strokes the great clawed hands clasped over their chest. “Just- how she grew up, I guess.”
She thought you were a girl.
And fuck, but that fucking hurts. “Not all the time.” He turns back to his cooking, turns off the heat under the sauce before it burns. "Not even that often." The world is vaguely swimming at the corners. It hurts. A reminder of all the places left bruised from the kicks and punches of the world.
It was stupid. Why did she think that? You aren’t a girl.
Well. That felt a bit better. Eddie manages a smile. “I- kinda was. I used to be, anyway, people thought I was.” Words. Punches, raining down one after the other.
You are not. He feels Venom presses up against their liver, their heart, snakes up their spine and nuzzles their brainstem. They are blind, and stupid. I have been in Maria, and Annie. You feel different, different here- a brush against the frontal lobe, and here- a kiss deep inside their shared brain.
Eddie closes his eyes. “Yeah, but-“ he doesn’t want to say it. My body is different.
“Yes,” Venom whispers in his ear. “You are. Your liver is a different shape, your bones are bigger, you have different creases in your intestines, your kidneys are a little bigger than Annie’s, smaller than Maria’s-"
“That’s not what I mean.” Eddie sighs.
“I know what you mean, and it’s stupid. You have more teeth than Maria had, and your bones are thicker. You have a whole little organ Annie didn’t- that squiggly appendix bit.”
“She had it out when she was a kid.”
“Why is that more important than-“ he presses against Eddie’s thoughts, This bit? This is the bit you want? He makes it sound so absurd that Eddie smiles.
“Yeah, I got the top surgery but no one’s worked out how to graft a dick yet.”
“Drake had one.” Venom states, as though this should put anyone off getting a penis.
“Pretty much half the world has one.” Eddie turns back to the potatoes. Half the world, and he isn't one of them. More than thirty years on and that joke still stings.
And you want one. Venom sinks back in, murmuring in his inner ear.
“Yeah.” Eddie sighs, T’s done a lot for him, his clit does its best and he packs, but it's never been quite right. Just good enough that he doesn’t want to tear his skin off-
There’s a shift between their legs, a weight in his boxers, a confused blur of sensation. Eddie drops the knife and bounds away from the counter, slamming up against the wall. There’s a stab of blinding pain, everything too tight and crushing everywhere-
Eddie fumbles with his jeans, drops them down and pulls down his underwear. The packer rolls out and there’s a burst of relief as he finally has enough space-
Is this what you want?
His cock is jet black, symbiote flesh. About the same size as the packer, not too large, not too small. A comforting weight that scratches something long irritated in Eddie. He reaches down, hesitates-
It won’t bite.
Eddie smiles, touches probing fingers to his cock. So sensitive he can’t help but shiver, a long, shivering pleasure as he gently grasps himself. Oh fuck that feels good, not the half pleasure half wrong reflex he usually gets when wanking off. This is just- good. Straightforward and right and his in a way it never felt before.
“Yeah.” Eddie closes his eyes. Theirs. For a moment, he feels a little sad for his clit, it had done its best, but it was never enough. In a way, this almost feels like cheating. Or maybe he’s gotten so used to pain that it’s become his reality, everything good some alien lie, not to be trusted.
You like it?
“Fuck yes.” Venom’s arms are around him again, pulling him close. They melt into him until it’s not Eddie or Venom any more but just them. One, together.
Yes. Never apart again, Eddie. All yours now. All mine.
“All ours.” Eddie echoes, feels a flicker of resounding pleasure from Venom.
Never hurt you, Eddie.
“Nah, I know.” He turns his head, and Venom is there, that sleek bullet head, the teeth half bared in warning should anyone try and hurt them. Fuck, but he loves him. He presses his lips to the slick flow of Venom’s mouth.
He feels a wave of love back, satisfaction and warmth. Yes, yes yes. We eat anyone who hurts us.
There’s a touch to his mind, assuring him that Venom knows, he’s seen how people can hurt him. If they talk about your dick, we bite theirs off. He feels the teeth, pressing against his lips like a flawless row of knives.
The world has clenched fists. But now at least, they can bite back.
Chapter 2: Savaged
Eddie has a miserable day, but Venom is there to make things better.
Venom watches as Eddie injects. He’s quiet for once, he’s seen this before, maybe he understands. Even if he doesn’t, he can see how important it is for Eddie. “Last one,” Eddie wraps up the dispenser and tosses it in the trash. “Want a walk down to the pharmacy?”
“Can we go down to the pier after?” Venom nuzzles him. “We want to hunt.”
“Sure.” Eddie grabs his insurance card and his jacket. “Fish, or do you want to wait for bad guys?”
Venom hums, sliding down under Eddie’s skin so the reverberations of him shivers through Eddie’s body. Eddie smiles, and presses his fingers to his chest. It’s nice. Fish first. Venom growls in his head. Then bad guys.
“We’ll give it a go.” Eddie locks the door, and steps out. It’s unusually cold and Venom wells up around his throat in a scarf, laps over his hands in soft gloves. “If there’s no one, want a nice dinner on pier 23? There’s that nice place with the little booths, they do sushi.”
It’s a date. Eddie feels his face flush, warm pleasure inside him warring against the chill of the late afternoon.
There’s a sharp wind, cutting through his jacket at the zip, but Venom is there too and it doesn’t reach his skin. Eddie clenches his hand around the gloves. “Thanks babe.”
It’s a short walk to the pharmacy. The big guy at the counter knows him, and gives him a look of low disgust. Eddie feels Venom bare his teeth. Bad guy?
“Nah.” Eddie glowers back. Just a dick. Normally, Eddie would have kept his head down, struggled to get in and out with as little said. Instead, he meets the guy’s hateful glare. “The usual,” he hands the card over. “You know I’m on file. Delatestryl.”
The man sneers at him. Eddie gives him a flat, unimpressed look. He turns reluctantly to the computer and types. He stops, and smirks at Eddie. “Denied.”
Eddie blinks, What?
Bad guy! Venom insists, furious.
“It’s the computer that’s the fucking bad guy.” Eddie snarls. “I’m paid up, I have a prescription-“
“Say here it’s denied.” The guy lounges back in his chair. “Turns out, your insurance provider doesn’t want to provide for dykes who want dicks.”
Eddie grits his teeth, feels them sharpen, lengthen. He struggles to keep his mouth closed. “I didn’t get any notification-“
“Not my fucking problem.” He looks at Eddie like he’s a puddle of piss on the floor, stands up. He’s a good three inches bigger than Eddie. “Fucking tranny.”
Eat him. Venom roars, trembling just under his skin.
Eddie steps back. Once, this would have been terrifying. Once, he’d be looking outside, trying to see who might be there to witness what’s about to happen to him. He looks at the guy in disgust. “Whatever.” He turns away.
For a moment, the guy looks like he’s going to survive. He glances up at the camera recording everything in the shop. “Want to see what a real man is like, you little bitch?”
“Pretty sure I already have.” Eddie shrugs, and turns to leave.
“Don’t you turn your faggot back on me you little-“ Eddie closes the door firmly behind him.
Eat him! Venom is howling inside him. Are you going to walk away you-
And maybe he is learning, because pussy goes unspoken, and Eddie feels a brief well of guilt from him.
“Nah. It’s up to him now.” Eddie watches from the corner of his eye, sees the dipshit stand up under the security camera, and do something to it. Turning it away, or switching it off. He’s planning to do something really horrible to Eddie; he doesn’t want the police to get any evidence on him.
Thanks, moron. Venom swells under his skin, his teeth bursting from their gums, the gloves lengthening into claws. He steps into the alley behind the shop, and ducks back behind a dumpster, waiting.
The fucker comes out a few minutes later, looks around, and swaggers over when he sees Eddie. “You must really want to get fucked, dumb freak. Maybe I’ll fuck your dyke face and show you what you’ll never-“
It’s as far as he gets. Black bursts from Eddie’s skin and as Venom, they lunge.
The man’s mouth opens, a wide O of horror, but their teeth snap down before he can scream. There’s a sweet hot shock of blood down their throat, rich pumping jets they drink down in mouthfuls. Eddie pulls back and lets Venom take over. He can hear the crunch of bones, the crumble of spine and ribcage. The sucking explosion of blood and fluids as they chew through heart and lungs and spleen.
“Lovely.” Venom purrs. “A far better meal than a human being.”
I’m not gonna argue. Eddie agrees. Venom swallows down the last few shreds of flesh, and slides down from Eddie’s body, sucking up the last of the gore around them. Eddie looks around carefully. There’s not as much as a drop of blood or a scrap of fabric.
“Good.” Venom growls, nuzzling Eddie’s ear. “Thank you Eddie.”
“Still want to go fishing?” Eddie strokes him as they walk down the alley.
“Later.” Venom lapses back under his skin as they walk out onto the main road. We can go to the pier? Have a swim? Get sushi?
“Sure babe.” Eddie squeezes his hands, and feels Venom squeeze back, entangling their fingers. Eddie smiles. “I need to sort this out first, though.”
They take the trolley along to his local Planned Parenthood. Venom is purring happily inside him, full and satisfied as they come in. The waves of warm and happy wash over him, and it feels a lot better than any other time Eddie’s been here.
“Ms Elizabeth Brock?” The receptionist glances around, confused.
Bad guy? Venom perks up.
“Nah,” Eddie gets up. “Just an idiot. Eddie Brock.” He walks over to the desk. “Mr Eddie Brock.”
“Right.” She doesn’t care, turning back to his file. “You want to transfer your insurance? We don’t do that here.”
“I want to know what insurance providers cover hormone therapy.” Eddie takes a breath; this is going to take a while.
It does. By the time they’re done, it’s dark outside and Eddie’s head is so full of phone numbers and please hold and being transferred to half a hundred people that once out he walks as fast as he can without really paying attention to where he’s going. He’s halfway out over the Golden Gate bridge before everything starts to clear.
He’s got a new insurance provider. But it’s going to take weeks for the paperwork to clear. Maybe a month. He rubs his face. A month. No T for a month. He can try and get some off the grid, of course, but there’s always a risk and his new work doesn’t pay that well. Not for a month of treatment.
Eddie? Venom whispers, and nudges him. Eddie shifts over, inviting him out. Venom’s head nudges him. “It’s okay, Eddie.”
“It isn’t.” Eddie rubs his face. A month. And that’s if nothing comes up and something always turns up. It took nearly three months to iron everything out last time. Fuck, he- he can’t go through this again. That sickening knot of terror in his stomach, feeling himself slip back into the well of wrong and bad. He’d had a period before he manage to get back on T, and it took months to repair the damage.
“Here.” Eddie feels something push inside his head. “Better.” Venom announces.
“What?” Eddie turns, Venom is grinning.
“You need more testosterone.” Venom curls around him against the biting cold, night is falling fast. “We can give you some.”
Eddie blinks. “What?” He repeats stupidly.
“We ate that bad guy; he had a lot of testosterone. You can have it.”
Eddie hesitates, that might tide him over for a while but T doesn’t last long and-
Are they really looking at going out and eating people so Eddie can get their hormones? That’s- a serious level of fucked up. It should not be so fucking tempting.
“Only bad guys, Eddie.” Venom sing-songs, enjoying being the one urging restraint. Eddie shakes his head. “We can help too.” He hesitates, “We- we can eat the parts making the wrong hormones, if you want. Only if you want.”
Eddie stares, “You can do that?” Then feels really dumb.
Venom cocks his head. “You didn’t like it when we ate your organs last time.”
“Yeah- it depends on the organs.” Eddie stares out over the bay, not really seeing it. He’s been trying to find a provider that’ll cover a hysterectomy, but it’s been nothing but dead ends, and costs so much it’s impossible. And now-
“You want us to eat them?” Venom nuzzles him, Eddie strokes him back, he’s warm and soft as supple leather. “Really?”
“Just them.” Eddie whispers, he blinks, blinks again harder to keep the tears back. “Please… that would be… really good.”
Okay. Venom’s back inside him, swirling down in his guts, Eddie’s ovaries and womb a nice after dinner snack. Eddie rubs his stomach, smiles. Venom’s going to be well fed today.
He leans against the railing; the light is pretty much gone now, the brief flashing lights of cars washing over them. In the distance, Eddie can just make out the remains of the LIFE laboratories, blacked out and empty since the company dissolved under the lawsuits.
He’s been here before. Eddie digs out his wallet, but he’d lost Dr Skirth’s card at some point in that madness, or in the two months since. Two months. Eddie feels something pop inside him and starts, a brief flash of pain, then gone as Venom clamps down on the nerve endings. Sorry.
“It’s fine, babe.” Eddie rubs his stomach again, encouraging. “You’re doing great.”
Tastes good, Venom’s purr of pleasure reverberates inside him. So good, so delicious Eddie. Love you.
If someone had told him two months ago he’d be back here with Drake dead, with a job, with a new boyfriend huddled in his guts and feasting on his reproductive organs, he’d- he’d- Eddie has no idea what he’d have thought-
Better than this.
Eddie hesitates, looks down into the water. He’d left the ring at home, but his fingers brush over its ghost. He’d been seriously considering jumping, that night. everything was so- so empty, dead all the way through, his money running out and soon he wouldn’t have enough to stay on his insurance and-
He wouldn’t have survived this.
It’s a sickening lurch inside him that makes Venom pause, probably wondering why everything suddenly tastes so bitter.
With Venom, everything is- manageable. Even the bad parts. Even without insurance, they can find their way through. Without him, on his own-
“Eddie!” Venom rears out of him, alarmed. There’s something red-black stuck between his teeth, and it smears red over Eddie’s cheek as Venom huddles against him. “Don’t think that! Never think that! It hurts, Eddie.”
“I know babe.” Eddie leans against him, then reaches up and picks the piece of his own flesh from Venom’s teeth, feeding it back to him. Venom takes it daintily from his fingers. “Just- it happens to a lot of people. A lot of people like me. It- scares me sometimes. I came so damn close-“
And he can’t say any more, because Venom wraps around him and kisses him. He tastes of metal and bitter and teeth and Eddie kisses back as hard as he can, opening his mouth to Venom’s tongue and pushing his own past that double range of endless teeth. Venom purrs against him, more coils wrapping around Eddie, holding his head, winding over his shoulders and down to his hands, holding on tight.
Never like that! Venom’s voice roars through his head like thunder. Never, Eddie!
Not with you. Eddie agrees, But without-
No! Never without! Never be alone. Always be us. Two in one, Venom. He breaks the kiss. "I love you."
It’s the first time one of them has said it. Eddie’s known, but it’s different to hear it. He catches his breath, because this needs to be said. Venom needs to hear it. “I love you too.” He strokes Venom’s cheek.
“We’re not leaving.” Venom growls, “Never leaving you alone. Never.”
Eddie licks his lips. “Never?” He looks down over the edge of the bridge.
Venom pulls his head back up, “Never, Eddie.”
It’s- almost too big. He’s been bad enough looking after himself, but Venom-
“We’ll look after us.” Venom kisses him again. “Always be us. Always be fine. Love you.”
Eddie closes his eyes. This day has been about as bad as it could be. He feels worn out and hollow and empty. But it- it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. He can believe that.
“Yessss.” Venom purrs. “Together. You and I, Eddie.”
“Yeah.” Eddie rests in Venom’s coils, relaxes against him. God, that feels good. “Want to make good on that date? Sushi on the pier?” Venom might have eaten, but Eddie suddenly realizes how hungry he is.
“Of course.” Venom slips back inside him, but- stays, a solid lattice just under his skin, bleeding strength inside his body. “And after-“ A quick brush of images, movies Venom’s watched. Couples going on dates, walking each other home, coming in on the pretext of coffee and-
Eddie flushes, “You have been watching way too many romantic movies.”
“We like them.” Venom grins. His head is resting on Eddie’s shoulder, hands wound with Eddie’s. “You like them too, admit it.”
Eddie looks away. Okay, maybe he should have realized how in love they are. The point at which love movies went from irritating to adorable should have clued him in earlier. Venom kisses him, and he gets a vague hope that it’ll rain later, kisses in the rain always looked lovely in the movies-
“You’re such a sap.” Eddie laughs and pushes Venom away. “Get in, someone’s going to see.”
Venom’s head slips into his own coils, wrapped around Eddie’s neck. He gives him a quick squeeze, fingers tightening around his. Eddie takes a deep breath and walks off the bridge, flagging down a taxi. “Don’t think we can neck in the back.” Eddie murmurs, relaxing into the seat. “We don’t want to freak anyone out.”
He’s already freaked out.
The driver is looking at them warily, wondering if Eddie’s one of the bad kind of crazies. Eddie shakes his head and the woman drives off, and is going to win herself a big damn tip at the end of the drive. They’ll walk along the pier together, hand in hand. They’ll take one of the little booths in the sushi place, tucked away and out of sight. They’ll take a trolley car home and when the door’s closed-
Well, Eddie isn’t sure how that’s going to work.
But he’s looking forward to finding out.
Chapter 3: Toothmarks
Venom finally has sex, and Eddie tries out his new cock.
Eddie’s been living in his run down block long enough to know how fucking annoying it is to open the front door and see people making out in the staircase. To begin with, right after his breakup, it had felt like the world was mocking him with what he no longer had. Then over time it just became one of the many irritations of living in a shitty part of town.
The memories of walking in to find half or mostly naked couples making out beside or sometimes even on his front door are the only reason Eddie holds both back long enough to close the front door, find his keys, unlock his door and lock that behind them-
Then he grabs Venom, at the same time as Venom grabs him, and they both try and pin each other against the front door, only managing to trip and crash to the floor in a tangle of arms and legs and tentacles.
Eddie bursts out laughing because wow, they really are losers, aren’t they?
Our losers. Venom purrs, not bothering to talk as his jaws slam against Eddie’s so hard he draws blood. The pain flashes, then fades almost at once as Venom slips over his lips and into his mouth, all tentacles and endless tongue and Eddie opens his mouth hungrily. Venom tastes of chocolate and metal and cool water, running down his throat and Eddie just takes more and more and yes yes yes God he never realized how much he wanted this but he does he does he does-
His hands grope through Venom’s body, still nothing but cords of body-matter, twisting teasingly between his fingers, there for a moment, then when Eddie tightens his grip- slipping into nothing until Eddie is grabbing empty air. “No fair.” Eddie slurs through a mouthful of Venom. “Wanna hol’ you-“
And then suddenly he is. Tendrils coiling together into a thick rope of flesh Eddie can really dig his nails in. He gets his arms around Venom, hooks a leg over and grinds tight and hard and aching between his legs. He scratches Venom’s flesh with his nails, over and over until Venom is growling hungrily into his mouth. His tentacles are everywhere, sliding under his clothes, stroking over his stomach, his biceps. Creeping up, along his legs, nibbling at the hollow of his knees, the soft skin of his thighs.
“Yesss-“ Venom pulls away, Eddie drools and groans wetly and gasps as Venom digs his teeth into Eddie’s neck. His teeth are razor sharp. If he bites any harder, he’ll rip through an artery and Eddie isn’t sure Venom could heal him before he bleeds out.
It’s possibly the hottest thing Eddie’s ever felt or even thought of. It’s the intimacy of biting and the beauty of knives and the terror of breathplay all rolled into one and Eddie can only roll his head further back, offering more and more of his throat for Venom to sacrifice. He bites down, just a little deeper, and Eddie feels a trickle of blood run down his throat.
His breath skips, Venom relaxes his hold, and moves up a little, and bites again. Marking him again and again. Eddie whines, he wants to move, press himself further against Venom for more frictions- but doesn’t dare twitch for fear of those teeth. Venom laughs deep in his throat, and the reverberations feed through and Eddie gasps again, digging his nails into Venom’s flesh. Groans as the thousands of tentacles suckle and nip at his skin, over and over until he’s covered in tiny red bites.
Then those teeth are gone, replaced with Venom’s tongue. He laps over the tiny, stinging wounds, strokes under Eddie’s chin, dives into the hollow of his throat. He pulls impatiently at the collar of Eddie’s shirt, until Eddie pulls him back up into a ravenous kiss.
Eddie unbuttons the shirt down to the chest, then breaks the kiss to pull it off. “I like that shirt.”
“What about those pants?” Venom’s hands pull free from the rest of his body-matter, cupping Eddie’s hips. Each massive thumb-claw pressing into the hollow of his pelvis, fingers spread over his ass.
Eddie squints down at himself. “Never liked those pants.”
Venom grins, and his claws rip through the fabric like paper. Eddie kicks off his shoes, winds a hand around Venom’s neck and tries to stand up. “Bedroom.”
He gets a growl of impatience. Eddie grins, strokes his hands down each side of Venom’s jaws. Venom opens his mouth, uncoiling his tongue. Eddie gives it a kiss, opens his mouth and sucks, just a little, teasing. Venom grins, he’s half formed, pulling free from Eddie’s back, long coils of flesh slowly forming into his torso, his clawed hands open and hungry. “Eddie…”
Eddie sits back on the bed. “Yeah?”
“What do you want?” Venom swarms over him, pushing him back in the bed. Those huge hands; each the size of his chest, pressing down on his shoulders.
Eddie looks up at those gaping rows of teeth, those impossibly beautiful opal-chased eyes. “No idea.” Eddie grins. Venom isn’t human and- fuck, but that feels good. He’s fucked enough humans in his life to appreciate someone who isn’t. There is no- pressure here. No need to prove anything to anyone- including himself. No need to fuck to show he’s a guy, no doubt -are you sure you’re not a girl- if he wants to be fucked. He’s good. They’re good.
“Want to use this?” Venom’s body fragments, tendrils splaying out around him, winding down to coil around his cock. The cock Venom gave him. Eddie shudders and groans deep in his throat. He hasn’t done more than quickly jerk off with it, a little scared to try anything more. He- still can’t quite believe he has a cock.
“God yeah.” Eddie runs his fingers over Venom’s face, between his eyes, along his jaws. “What about you? What do you want, babe?”
For a moment, Venom pauses, looking down at Eddie. “We want what you want.” He says finally.
“Yeah, but-“ Venom tries to kiss him to shut him up, and Eddie turns his head out of the way. “Have you done this before? You got sex on your planet?”
“No. We don’t have a lot of things. That’s why I like Earth.”
Okay, fair enough. Good sex is a new one for reasons for saving Earth, but Eddie’ll take it. He closes his eyes, and pushes as many images as he can to Venom.
Him, straddling Venom, fucking himself on a massive cock, Venom’s claws clenching on his thighs-
Lying on Venom, fucking him with his new cock, Venom slick and sucking around him, coiling around his cock tight as hungry as ocean currents-
Venom unformed, coiling around him. Tentacles in his ass, in his mouth, wound around his cock. Eddie’s hands grabbing and groping over him, trying to touch him everywhere-
Venom shudders, his eyes closing to thin crescent moons on either side of his head. “Yes.” He murmurs, and licks a long, hungry line along Eddie’s chest. And the images pour back into Eddie’s head.
Eddie fucking Venom, cock swelling inside him, and pushing him wider and wider- as Venom’s own cock roots itself further and further inside Eddie’s ass. Fucking each other over and over until they’re not two but one creature, endlessly hungry, endlessly wanting.
“Fuck.” Eddie breathes. “Yeah. Get over here.”
Venom falls on him ravenously, jaws clamping down on Eddie’s cheeks, his tongue pushing into Eddie’s mouth. It’s huge and slick and too much, Eddie closes his eyes and opens his mouth and takes and takes and takes. Venom’s tongue fills his mouth and pushes down his throat until Eddie is struggling to breathe.
Eddie digs his fingers into Venom’s coiled body, pulling him down until they’re pulled tight together, Venom’s tendrils spilling out over his body, dipping into his navel, pouring over his inner thighs and-
Eddie gives a choked gasp, which Venom swallows greedily. His tentacles wind tight around Eddie’s cock and- it’s nothing like fucking with a strap-on, or having a tight mouth on his clit, giving him a blow-job. It’s- bigger, there’s so much more skin to feel with, almost overwhelming at the tip, deep desperate shudders along the shaft.
How is this- even going to work? Can he come like this, with no balls? A tentacle slips down against his ass and presses between his cheeks and- fuck, how are they going to manage this too? Can they-
Venom pulls his tongue out of Eddie’s through, slow and dragging and Eddie coughs, spluttering on saliva. “We can do whatever we want.” Venom rumbles, stroking his claws over Eddie’s cheek. “We will feel whatever we want.”
Fuck. Eddie can’t get the word out; it comes in a raw gasp. However it’s meant to work, he feels his cock get even harder, Venom’s tentacles clustering together against him, sucking and clenching and pulling and oh he’s getting so close it feels so goddamn good-
He opens his legs in invitation, lifting his hips to welcome the probing tentacle. He did this once before, with Annie. It had been good but- it hadn’t felt right. Like he’d been pretending to do something that wasn’t him, acting out something he wanted but couldn’t have.
“You can have it.” Venom gnaws on his throat; nibbling and licking and dragging his teeth over the raw skin. “You can have everything. We’ll give it to you. Everything you want-“
Eddie nods, unable to speak. He drags in a shuddering breath as Venom pushes inside him. A thin, eager tentacle, pushing through the ring of tight muscle and spreading him, little by little. A second, sliding in beside the first, circling his hole and pushing in too, deeper than the first and- oh.
That’s what it felt like.
It’s fireworks behind his eyes, the bright burst of sunshine deep inside him. He’s half convinced he’s orgasmed already, but his cock is still rock hard inside Venom, almost painful. Eddie blinks, gasping to try and keep control. Venom is inches away from him, jaws just open, dripping drool across Eddie’s mouth. “Hey.” Eddie breathes.
“Hey.” Venom groans, and Eddie shudders in pleasure as the tentacles inside him swell and stretch him, start to pump in and out of him. More tentacles form to slide over him, a thousand little sucking kisses all over his skin.
“Is this good?” Eddie manages, closing his eyes as they rock together. His hips pushing up inside Venom, then driving back against the tentacles, forcing them deeper until the stars shatter inside him all over again. “You- you like this-“ his words shatter, he can’t say any more.
Venom’s claws spasm against him, the massive body under his hands shudders in pleasure. Venom pants against his mouth, tongue hanging and licking against Eddie’s cheek. Eddie turns his head and bites Venom’s tongue very lightly, tastes metal and hunger. Venom growls and nips Eddie’s chin.
They move against each other like the tides, swelling waves of pressure pushing them closer together, deeper, devouring each other endlessly. Eddie drags Venom’s head down and kisses him, open-mouthed and sopping wet. He’s drowning. Drowning in Venom. Venom’s tongue in his mouth, down his throat until he’s drinking him down. Cock buried so deep inside his ass until Eddie wonders how much more it can go, if he’s going to be threaded like a needle. Tentacles all over him, stroking and biting. Venom inside him, stroking over his organs, his bones and flowing through his veins-
His orgasm comes slow and swelling and enormous as an explosion underwater. His back arches luxuriously and clenching down hard on Venom’s cock, coming inside him in great, shuddering gasps. Venom gives a wet, desperately hungry noise, lost in their shared mouths and Eddie swallows that down too, devours every part of Venom and dear God more-
The shudders slowly work their way out of his body, the final desperate jerks of his hips as the last of the pleasure eases out of him. Eddie closes his eyes, tries to slump back on the bed- but Venom holds him up, his cock still buried inside Eddie, body still sucking against Eddie’s still-hard cock.
“Um-“ Eddie tries to look down at himself, but his body is half-swallowed by Venom’s, his cock lost in the tangles of tentacles. “Isn’t it supposed to-“
“We do what we want.” The tentacles around his cock tightens and Eddie groans. “Want to do it again?”
“Hmm.” Eddie kisses him, it’s sloppy and wet and completely debauched. “How many times?”
“As many-“ a bite to his lip. “As we want.”
Reality comes filtering back some unknown time later. Eddie doesn’t open his eyes, sinking into his broken down old bed as if it was memory foam. Venom was wrapped all around him, soaking in and out of his skin with each breath.
He can taste saliva and blood and sweat, he should probably be feeling sticky all over- and recalls a vague, foggy memory of Venom licking him clean after their final orgasm, when Eddie was unable to move any more, slumped back on the bed. His muscles spasming useless and limp around him as Venom’s rough tongue lapped around him, lingering at his cock for a few moments, trying to coax him into one more round-
Eddie groans at the memory. He runs a hand down his body and coasts it very lightly over his cock. Even that slight contact makes him shudder, the skin raw and overwhelmed after last night. It feels like it’s his, warm flesh melding perfectly into the thick thatch of pubic hair and smooth skin of his inner thighs. With his eyes closed, there’s no way to know it’s Venom’s sleek black skin he can see, not his.
“Yours.” Venom grumbles. “Ours. No difference. Just us.”
Eddie nods, turns his head and feels Venom’s head resting against his. Venom licks over his lips, and Eddie presses a kiss to the tender flesh and cracks his eyes opens. “Hey babe.”
Venom gives him a slow, exhaustedly happy smile. “Hello Eddie.”
Eddie snuggles in deeper, absently tracing over the tangle of tendrils ensnaring him. They writhe under his hands, sucking hungrily at his fingertips. “You are delicious, Eddie.” It’s so soft Eddie barely catches the words.
“You liked eating my organs that time.” Eddie agrees, “Not sure I can spare much more though.”
“Not organs.” Venom nuzzles him, and Eddie kisses back. “Chemicals. They’re all over your brain, and they taste so good-“ there’s a weird tickling feeling inside his skull, as though Venom was gently licking over both halves his brain; lapping over each tiny crease of thought, dipping into the groove between the two hemispheres.
Eddie closes his eyes, lets his head fall back. It’s like pure honey poured over his thoughts, liquid sugar running down his throat. His whole body feels light and cool and floating. “Is this good, Eddie?” Venom whispers.
“God yeah.” Eddie smiles back at him, loopy and daft. “Love you babe.”
“Love you forever, Eddie.”
Chapter 4: Snap Shut
Eddie and Venom set a trap.
Eddie is buying colourful bits of metal.
“They’re badges,” Eddie murmurs, adjusting the little earpiece as the people look at them. Venom looks curiously out from behind Eddie’s eyes. The woman at the stall smiles as he picks out a very pretty one striped in blue, pink and white. It reminds Venom of the sky when the sun is coming up.
“It’s a trans rights badge,” Eddie continues as the woman turns to talk to another customer.
What is trans?
Eddie blinks; his brain flashes in shock. “What- I thought-“ he breaks off. “Oh, I guess I- never told you. I’m trans. The- gender thing.”
Oh, that. As far as Venom can make it out, it’s entirely to do with Eddie’s body being spiteful. His brain keeps telling it the way it’s meant to be, but for some reason- probably malice- it keeps doing the wrong things. Before they became us, Eddie had to pump chemicals into himself to force it into behaving, but now Venom’s there. Eating the reproductive organs has helped, the body’s now too intimidated to misbehave too much.
Other people have this problem?
“Yeah,” Eddie sighs, “Quite a lot of people.”
Venom is never going to understand biology. How can flesh rebel so badly? Klyntar had a lot of problems, but any bodies that behaved like that would have been beaten into submission very quickly.
Eddie must have heard some of that, because he smiles, and digs out another badge from the tray. This one is very prettily striped in a rainbow, with large white letters proclaiming FUCK TRUMP.
Ah, this one Venom knows. Fuck can mean variably to copulate or to insult, and Trump is a bad guy Eddie’s promised they can eat when he next comes to San Francisco. He doubts Eddie wants to copulate with him so this is probably an insult.
But his favourite one is definitely number three. It’s bigger than the other two, all glossy black and white, like them! It’s even about them; it says Black Live Matter, and they are black!
Eddie snorts, stifles a laugh behind his hand. “I- no. Sorry love, but you’re not the one being shot by the police.”
They do shoot at us!
“Yes, but then they get eaten.”
If more people ate policemen, they’d behave better.
Eddie snorts. “Not arguing with that, but most people can’t.”
We should do it for them.
“That’s what this is for.” Eddie takes the three badges, and a shirt with a red oval on it, and the words take a knee. The oblong looks like something to do with sports and Venom can’t understand anything to do with sports. “Yeah, I can’t either.” Eddie continues, “But that’s not the point.”
He pays for them and puts them on. Venom looks down at themselves, he doesn’t like the shirt. He doesn’t like the red; it’s a bit too much like blood. Eddie rubs his knuckles against his ribcage and for a moment, there’s nothing but searing pain, Riot’s blade jutting raw and bloody from his chest.
He closes his eyes. “Please don’t.” He whispers.
Venom drags himself away, coiling around Eddie’s lungs and liver, shivering. Sorry.
Eddie takes a deep breath. “It’s not meant to look good,” he continues, voice steadying. “It’s bait.”
Dinner turned out not to be jumping in the bay to fool sharks into thinking the red was blood, but going into a series of very ugly bars and ordering very fancy drinks. Two refused to serve them straight off. A slurring, reeking man threw a bottle at them in the third and Venom recoiled, ready to spring out and eat him-
“Shh, no.” Eddie turned away, he glanced back, but the man didn’t follow.
The fourth bar is a success. No one throws anything at them, and they get their drink- a colourful concoction with several slices of fruit and a little umbrella- but there’s a huddle of guys watching them from a booth. There’s something in their eyes Venom had last seen in Riot’s. Cold and hungry and delighting to hurt.
That had been terrifying. This is a promise. Eddie sips his drink lazily; it’s painfully sweet and has far too much alcohol, but after a few minutes he leaves most of it and walks out into the alleyway behind the bar.
The three men get up. They hesitate for a moment, nudging each other, snarling to each other through their teeth. For a moment, Venom wonders if they’re going to survive, go back to their seats and their drinks and leave them hungry. But then one of them starts jeering, and they all troop outside like obedient little ducklings, right into their gaping jaws.
Usually, Eddie retreats when the eat, but here- they are us. They devour each other, twining together so close there is only one. Venom. His hunger is their hunger. Eddie’s banked, ever burning rage is theirs. And soon, the screams, the tearing of flesh, the thick, hot gobbets of meat-
Those are theirs too.
“It wasn’t a bad idea, was it?” Eddie smiles, wiping the blood from his mouth, then reaching over to clean Venom’s.
“It was excellent.” Venom agrees, leaning in to let Eddie clean his teeth. “Fishing for assholes.”
Eddie doesn’t pull away at first, letting his hands trail over each side of Venom’s head. It’s so light, barely more than the brush of fingertips. A warm, tender brush, guiding his head down to a sweet, metal-tanged kiss.
Eddie’s lips are so soft, warm and tender, the press of his tongue against his teeth. Every part of him is so delicious, bright and brilliant and there is something so- beautiful about having that delicate body offered up to him, supine between his teeth.
“I love you.” Eddie whispers.
Better than feeding. Better than the meat bursting under their teeth, the twitching death of their enemies. Venom turns his head, pushing harder against Eddie’s lips, Eddie kisses back, winding both hands around Venom’s neck. His mouth opens, and Venom pushes his tongue into his mouth.
Eddie hums ravenously, and sucks against him. It’s a flash of shocking sensation, blinding and nearly overwhelming and oh, he can feel his own tongue in Eddie’s throat, massive and heavy and almost suffocating. Eddie swallows, drinking him down, throat spasming around him and Venom is vaguely aware of his claws clenched around Eddie’s shoulders, cutting through his shirt and into his skin, drawing blood and healing over and over-
He tries to relax his grip and Eddie moans, pushing against his claws, his tongue. More- soundlessly mouthed against his jaws, his nails digging into the back of Venom’s head.
It’s barely a thought, and he splits his mock-body into a tangle of tendrils, winding around Eddie, and pushing him against the alley wall. Eddie groans, half suffocated under his tongue. He hooks a leg around a tentacle and grinds against it. He soaks himself through Eddie’s clothes, slicks up the soft, yielding flesh, the gentle tickle of tiny hairs.
It’s a struggle not to go further, reach through Eddie’s skin and touch the nerves directly, tease and stimulate. Yes, Eddie whispers in his head, a tickle of pleasure. Yes yes yes.
Then he chokes; shudders as Venom strokes over his spine, trickling between the bones and caressing the raw nerves. Down past his pelvis and darting bright and dazzling over the nerves there like flurries of lightning. Eddie gives a sudden, jerking grunt; and orgasms at once.
Venom pulls his tongue away quickly. Eddie sucks in a gasp of air, and goes limps against Venom. “Fuck.”
He sinks into Venom’s half liquid body, engulfing him whole. The warm, shivering contentment echoes through both of them, Eddie’s eyes close and he pushes his face blindly against Venom’s body, kissing and sucking.
“Can’t do that too often.” Eddie whispers against him, snuggling in. “That was- fast.”
You can do it again, Venom murmurs, nudging his brain where his refectory period is stored.
Eddie shivers. “Maybe not in an alley. Should go home.”
Probably. Venom doesn’t want to move, the sweet lassitude soaking through them and-
And he doesn’t want to go back inside Eddie. This is so much better, Eddie inside them. Curled up warm and so very safe inside. Where no one can hurt him; where this huge, pathetically weak world cannot hurt him. The ridiculous attempts at savagery that would seem laughable were Eddie not so very vulnerable to them.
The three men had been nothing but a delightful meal, but what would they have been if Venom wasn’t there? What would have happened if Eddie had gone in here without him-
“I wouldn’t.” Eddie’s eyes flutter closed, he huddles closer still. “’m not stupid. Wouldn’t have gone in like that, wearing these things.”
You like these things. They are important to you.
“Yeah, but I’m not fucking suicidal.”
You should be able to wear them. You should be able to go everywhere.
“And I can, with you.”
Venom doesn’t want to imagine Eddie without him now, but he can imagine him before he was them. Terrifyingly vulnerable, flayed bare and nothing but raw, pulsing flesh against the violence of the world, where even the smallest claw, the bluntest tooth could hurt him.
“We’ll just have to eat all the assholes in the world, then.” Eddie smiles against him.
Venom can’t see any downsides to that.
Chapter 5: Behind Your Teeth
Eddie risks vulnerability. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it hurts.
The morning dawns sharp and cold, a dagger of morning light cutting through the curtains and across the bed. Eddie struggles out of bed, hissing as their bare feet hit the floor. He drags the curtains closed and stumbles back to bed, rubbing their arms and shivering. Eddie bundles them back up in the sleep-warm blankets, burying their head under the covers.
Cold, Eddie. Venom grumbles.
“Yeah, I know.” Eddie rubs his feet. “Come out here and I’ll warm you up.”
Venom seeps out of him in long warm ropes, coiling up against Eddie’s stomach and upper arms, tucked up under his chin. “Cold.” Venom buries his head in the inside of Eddie’s thigh.
Eddie chuckles; running his fingers over the back of Venom’s head and neck. “I know how we could warm up.”
“Hrrrm?” Venom hums temptingly against the tender skin.
Eddie shivers, and digs his nails into Venom’s flesh. Leans down and presses a kiss between those huge white eyes, then, when Venom lifts his head, to his welcomingly open mouth. “Hrrmmm.” Venom agrees, his long tongue flicking out to taste Eddie’s.
“Where are you warmest, Eddie?” Venom purrs against his lips. “In here, perhaps?” And pushes the whole of his tongue into Eddie’s mouth.
Eddie swallows around it, sucks the long tongue further in, and bites down gently as Venom pushes more and more and more into his mouth. Hot and slick and hungry. His body pulls free from Eddie's, the tendrils splitting and winding over Eddie’s hands, spilling out over his chest. Eddie runs his fingers through the strands, sink into the warm, flexible skin; pulling him closer, closer, closer please.
Venom’s tentacles stroke over his belly, Warm, Venom purrs in pleasure. So warm here, Eddie.
“Uhh-“ Eddie struggles, half drowning on Venom’s tongue, the saliva running down his throat. He cants his hips up and sucks a strangled breath as Venom engulfs him, winding over his groin, lapping the faint trail of hair down and swirling around the black flesh of Eddie’s makeshift cock. Venom pulls his tongue back and Eddie chokes, trying to catch his breath. “Warm.” Venom grins, “Warmer here, darling Eddie.”
“Yeah.” Eddie’s toes curl as Venom’s tentacles probe further down, “God, you feel good.”
“Where are you warmest?” He continues, licking under Eddie’s chin. “Where should we curl up, let you shield us from the cold?”
“Anywhere,” Eddie slurs, “I’m yours, sweetheart, all yours-“
“Anywhere?” And there’s an odd edge to Venom’s voice, almost hesitant.
Eddie catches his breath, and is suddenly aware of just where Venom’s tentacles are going. One is circling his ass, the others teasing just under his cock, the hot lips of his pussy.
“You want this?” Venom whispers.
Eddie looks up into his face and- this is up to him. It doesn’t mean anything to Venom, just another part of Eddie he wants to touch, another well of pleasure to delight it. It wouldn’t make him any less of a guy in those opalescent eyes, this lover who barely understands gender in the first place.
But the paranoia is still there, lurking in the back of his mind, the fear that if he takes one step away from being absolutely 100% a guy, he’ll- backslide. People will see, people will know-
“Yeah.” Eddie breathes. Because he does. He wants this, he wants to be filled and fucked, and he wants to feel Venom in every possible way. “Let’s try.”
“Every part of you.” Venom purrs, the tentacles twitch, rub over his cock, dip against the wetness slicking his cunt. “All of you, so warm.”
Eddie groans as a tentacle starts pushing, slowly but oh so big inside his ass. Two more hold him open; pull his lips apart and- ohh.
“Fuck.” Eddie gasps, then any more is lost when Venom pushes his tongue back in his mouth. Tentacles around his cock, pumping him to full hardness, in his ass, slick and sloppy, pumping in and out. And two more, coaxing him open. Eddie chokes, hips bucking as a massive tentacle pushes up against his soaking pussy, rubbing against his entrance, teasing. “C’-“ Eddie shudders, Come on.
So warm, Eddie, Venom rumbled in his head. So warm for us, my love.
And Eddie arches back as the tentacle pushes inside, huge and heavy and perfect. God, it’s so big he feels himself stretch, matching the one in his ass. They thrust inside him in unison, so much and so overwhelming that Eddie can barely recognise what Venom is doing where. Tentacles inside him, wrapped around his cock, tongue gagging and drowning him and he can’t breathe- it all blurs into a blinding rush of sensation, pulling him along towards completion and fuck, he’s so close-
Yes, Venom coaxes, So perfect, so ours. Darling, darling, come for me.
Eddie orgasms with a helpless shudder, spitted on Venom. His cunt clenches down hard, his cock twitching and coming and coming and coming as Venom’s tentacles coaxes every last tremble of pleasure out of him.
“Good?” Venom pulls his tongue out of Eddie’s mouth, the tentacles shifting and melting away inside him. Eddie groans wetly; God, he feels empty, pulled so wide it almost hurts. It feels- strange. Not bad just- vulnerable. As if every wall and shield he had was stripped away, leaving him open, soft and tender to the cruelties of the world. If it were anyone but Venom with him, it would feel awful but- he’s okay.
Eddie smiles and tucks his face into the crook of Venom’s. “Good.” He agrees. “I love you. Feeling warmer now?”
Venom wraps around him, the plush blanket of his body winding tight and bleeding heat through them. “Warm.” Venom murmurs. “So warm with you. Love you too, Eddie.”
Eddie smiles against Venom, feels venom close over his head. Eyes open, eyes closed, it makes no difference. Warm air fed through to him. Exhaustion welling sweet and hot inside him. Eddie yawns, Venom’s skin pulsing briefly into his mouth, and snuggles in, warm and tender and safe.
The ringing filters through as though from underwater; distorted and indistinct. Eddie blinks; the daylight is charcoal grey through Venom’s skin. For a moment, he considers just- staying here, cuddled and coddled and loved, and forget about the rest of the world-
The phone continues ringing. Venom growls, and lifts himself away from Eddie. “Eat it. Annoying thing.”
“Ah ah, no.” The morning is a bit warmer now, and Eddie sits up. “Phones are expensive, and I don’t think you can eat silicon.”
“Can.” Venom grumbles, “Crunchy. Who is it?”
Eddie picks up the phone; it’s not a number he recognises. “Maybe the healthcare people.” Fingers crossed they’ll just be confirming and he can get properly back on T this week, rather than relying on Venom’s- stopgap measures. He accepts the call. “Hello?”
Eddie goes cold all over, god, he knows that voice. Venom hulks up around him, spikes bristling along his back. “Bad guy?”
Eddie can’t say anything for a moment. He swallows. “New phone.” He snaps. “Who dis?” And cuts them off.
He doesn’t bother putting the phone down, they’ll call back. He closes his eyes and tries to- build himself back up again. The monument of Edward Charles Allen Brock, armor against the fists of the world. Venom wraps around him, not quite becoming Venom but- pretty close. Letting him feel big and savage and terrifying and unstoppable. “Thanks babe.”
The phone rings again. Eddie takes a breath, lets it ring twice, and answers. “What.”
“Fine, Edward.” And oh, that exasperation, the eye-rolling why do you have to be like this Lizzy? “Are you going to talk to me?”
“Haven’t got anything to say.” Eddie snaps. “I know where to find you if I want you. Still got the number blocked, in fact.”
“God, you are so childish! Haven’t you grown up at all-“
“I can block this number too, if you want.” Eddie cuts in, Venom growling against the back of his neck. “You called me. What the fuck do you want?”
He heard his sister draw in a long breath through her nose. “Dad’s gone.”
Eddie starts, hand clenching on the phone. “Dead?” It’s like a kick to the stomach, so sudden and shocking he’s not sure if it hurts yet. Venom winds around him, squeezes tight.
“God! No, Lizzy!”
“Shut up with that name!” Eddie roars, and something of Venom must have tangled in his vocal cords, because it comes out much deeper, more savage.
It makes Mary pause for a moment. “Eddie.” She grudges. “You’d like him to be dead, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t it just make your day-“
Eddie- Eddie doesn’t know how he’d feel, if he was. Not bad. But not good either. Not that he’s about to say that. “Yeah.” He spits. “Dancing in the streets. Get my queer freak friends to protest the funeral.” Venom runs his claws down Eddie’s back, soothing. Eddie leans back against him, fuck, but he’s glad he’s here.
“God! I don’t know what I called you!” Mary would have her hands in the air, as though she’d love to throw Eddie away with them. “I hope you’d have come to your senses by now, but-“
“Whatever-“ Eddie pulls the phone away from his ear, about to switch off-
“He’s gone, Eddie. With his friends. I haven’t heard from him in weeks.”
Eddie groans, and leans back in to answer, “So he’s on one of his survivalist kicks again. They’ll be back when the booze runs out-“
“No one’s heard from them! I’ve been calling around and no one’s heard anything. He took the guns.”
“He always takes the guns-“
“All the guns.”
Eddie hesitates. “Even the Springfield?”
A sigh, and for a moment Eddie can almost see her, frazzled and exhausted, almost feels bad for leaving her-
But then Venom digs his claws in, and Eddie jerks back to reality. Real life, not whatever he would have so badly liked real life to be. “I guess you checked the lodge.”
“They’d stripped it by the time I got there. Down to the floorboards.”
“They probably decided it wasn’t off the grid enough, too much chance for government mind control rays-“
“They’re going to do something stupid.” Mary says flatly. “Take over a national park, or-“
Or. That little or hanging over their lives like that fucking Springfield rifle, always loaded. Always ready to go off. Carl Brock had kept a scrapbook of his heroes. Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber, David Koresh. Eddie closes his eyes and for a moment he’s decades ago, Dad gone already for days, him and Mary wavering over the TV, terrified of turning it on for fear of seeing that news report- Carl Brock, 57, suspect in the terrorist bombing of wherever and death of however many dozens of people-
Venom is very still against him, claws now gently kneading his arms. “Yeah,” Eddie rests his head on Venom’s shoulder. “We suck too, sometimes.”
“Who are you talking to?” And for a moment, she’s sis again, Big Sis Mary, barely tall enough to reach the cooker, throwing together a meal for them after dad passed out in front of the TV. For a moment, Eddie lets himself believe-
“I thought you decided you were a dyke?”
And it shatters again, sudden and cruel as ice water poured over him, a punch to the stomach. The shock of it jerks tears to his eyes, his breath stuttering in his throat and he wants to tell her to fuck off, wants to tell her to never call again, but his throat’s closed up and he can’t make a sound.
Venom snatches the phone in massive claws. “Go away.” He snarls. “You are stupid, and small, and disgusting. We’ve seen things that live under rocks that are better than you. You will stay away from us, or we will crush you.”
Eddie makes an abortive grab for the phone- but it’s too late, Venom’s already made good of the threat and demolished the cell with one clench of his massive claws. Eddie stares at the ruin of the thing, and can’t bring himself to be pissed. “I needed an upgrade anyway.”
“Should have done it to begin with.” Venom retorts, tossing the phone away. He pulls more and more of himself out of Eddie, until Eddie’s lying against a massive chest, huge arms crossed over his back.
Eddie closes his eyes, lets himself be held close. Venom lowers his head; Eddie tilts his own back to meet him in a brushed kiss, lips against Venom’s teeth. Venom pushes in harder, tight and fierce and fuck, but those teeth feel good. A warning, a threat; a barrier behind which he can curl up and be safe.
“Keep you safe.” Venom murmurs, claws running down his back, his shoulders. “Keep you warm, with us. Never hurt again.”
Eddie nods, gives a weak smile because- how the hell did he get this lucky? He’s pretty sure there are more trans guys who deserve a massive, loving alien boyfriend more than him.
“No.” Venom licks his cheek. “Just you.” He’s got something on his mind; Eddie can feel it like a scratch at the back of his mind. He settles in against Venom, chest to back, a very little spoon. “The assholes we go fishing for,” he murmurs in Eddie’s ear.
Eddie finds his hand, closes a hand over two huge clawed fingers. “Yeah.” He knew all about those.
Venom doesn’t say anything; but- Eddie can feel it. The shiver of fear that Eddie had been near those people, those cruel-eyed Riot-people, without Venom.
“Yes.” Eddie sighs. “For sixteen years.” He’d told Mary about being him, in the end. He’d hoped she’d- get it, understand. But she’d gone to Carl, and Eddie hadn’t waited to find out what he was going to do. Teeth snapping shut, inches behind his heels as he ran into the night.
Venom bares his own teeth. “Bigger.” He growls, “Sharper. We bite better. They will run, we will feed.”
Eddie closes his eyes. “Yeah.” Behind his eyes, he sees that long-dreaded news broadcast all over again. “I’ll have to get this out on the grapevine in case he does do something. Probably won’t do much good, but-“ He shrugs.
“We’ll eat him.” Venom says firmly.
“If he tries it here, go for it.” Eddie sighs. Terrorist bombing. Armed standoff. The name Carl Brock plastered all over TV screens, a dogged association he’ll never escape again.
“Change our name.” Venom nuzzles his ear.
“Heh, good idea.” Eddie stretches, and pulls Venom’s head down to his chest, kissing him. “Should have done it long ago, and ’s’not like I’m not used to it by now. How about Eddie Sym?”
Venom’s teeth digs into his lip in approval.
Chapter 6: Gnawed Away
A new name means a new start. Eddie and Venom want to make the best of theirs, and become better.
“Sym.” Eddie tastes the word as they walk into the DMZ, the new Social Security Card sharp and crisp in their hand. “Eddie Sym. Venom Sym.” He smiles, and runs a hand over Venom, who’s nuzzled in as his scarf.
“Names are strange.” Venom murmurs, teeth brushing against the hollow of Eddie’s neck.
Eddie checks his pocket for the Bluetooth headpiece but- damn, he must have left it at home. He shrugs, the staff here probably see way worse than him every day. “Did you not have a name, before?”
“Yes, but- different.” Venom considers it, coiling and recoiling around Eddie’s neck. “There is no easy translation, I chose Venom because it seemed the closest.”
“Was it?” Eddie sits down to wait his turn.
In response, Eddie’s mind is flooded with sensation. The sense of something deadly, slipping under the skin, devouring from within. Hungry, cruel and hateful. “That was your name?” Eddie tries to catch his breath, blinking and blinking to clear the images away, the waiting room of the DMZ absurdly normal after- that.
“Yes.” Venom sighs. “I hated it.”
“Yeah, I know all about that.” Eddie pulls a strand of Venom from his neck, like unwinding a scarf, and strokes him. “Did they name you? It doesn’t suit you at all.” He kneads the slick skin, feels Venom relax inside him.
“Yes.” Venom winds between his fingers like a playful snake. “It was what I was meant to be, and they hated me when I was not.”
Eddie closes his eyes, because God does he know that one, and the better to send all the warmth and love he could between them. Venom relaxes more, and Eddie hopes he’s holding himself together enough to not drip all over his clothes. Eddie doesn’t want to explain why his scarf is melting. “Fuck those guys.”
“Yes.” Venom laps up just under his ear, making Eddie smile. “I like this name. Venom. It is an- animal word, and they are not hateful, not cruel. Only dangerous in hunting, or self defense. I like that. I wanted to be that.”
“Oh darling.” Eddie whispers, wishes they could be alone to wrap his arms around Venom, hold him close. “I know, sweetheart. My name doesn’t even mean much, but- fuck; it felt so good when I first changed it. It feels so damn good now.”
“I know.” Venom continues thoughtfully. “Names- they circumscribe us, tie back to a history, actions and a past. And when they change, we change too.”
Eddie closes his eyes and nods. He’d been Eddie for years before he finally managed to get his first name changed, but the freedom he’d felt when he’d first looked at his paperwork and it was just- there, in black and white. Real. Edward Charles Allen Brock. Like the world had opened around him in those first three words, endless and terrifying in its possibilities. And maybe it had been that fear that had made him keep that last name, that chain pulling him back to the past.
“Brock.” Venom murmurs.
“It was stupid. A liability.” Eddie sighs, “I wanted them to be able to see me- to know I was better than them. But- yeah. Not like they’d ever give a fuck. Should have changed it years ago.”
“No.” Venom whispers into his ear, making him shiver. “It isn’t enough to know what to change; you need to know what to change to. You needed to wait for us, as I needed to wait for us.”
Eddie smiles and- yeah, okay, those are tears. “You’re worth waiting for.” He wipes them away. His number is called, and he stands up. “But now we’re here, let’s get going.”
It takes hours, but it’s worth it. They walk out with a brand new license. Eddie’s photo is as awful as it is on every driver’s license, but Venom is in there too, looped around his neck, eyes two tiny white slits just under his chin. Them. Together. Venom. Eddie Sym.
It’s as exhilarating as the first time; a new start, the chance to become something more. Work won’t be as well paid, but with a new name they won’t be pigeonholed as he had been. More doors open for written work, at least.
And no more fear. No dread that one day he’d turn on the TV and see his name will always be associated with mass murder. No history for his father to cling to, he’d die and Mary would get married and the name Brock would flicker out like a candle.
Evening is falling, but their feet lead them to a park. Maybe it might net them a meal, but maybe not. Right now, Eddie’s just enjoying the evening. They’re not quite ready to go home, not when the world is electric with possibilities, and they can choose whatever they want to be.
“We can do whatever we want.” Venom’s slides over him, coating him under his clothes and gives a warm, full-body hug.
“Just trying to work out what that is.” Eddie sits on a bench, looking up at the evening sky from under the trees. And maybe there is a bit of fear there, he’s over thirty, and still hasn’t got much of a plan-
“No.” Venom lifts his head free and scowls at him. “We have time. We have years. We have us.”
The problem is that- Eddie’s got basically everything he’s ever wanted. When he first escaped home, terrified and certain he was about to die; this was the life he’d never dared to dream of. He’s him now, Eddie now and forever and transitioned more thoroughly than he’d ever imagined possible- Eddie feels Venom smile in satisfaction- he has work he loves, a decent place to live-
And Venom. Someone to share his life with so completely it still stuns him that this is his, that he can have someone so close. Together and whole and so wonderful Eddie has to close his eyes against the tears.
“I love you.” Venom murmurs.
“Love you too, darling.” He puts his arms around themselves, and squeezes. He knows Venom can feel it.
“I never imagined it could be so good.” Venom rests his head on Eddie’s shoulder, eyes half closed in happy crescents. “No one in the Hive had ever considered we could exist like this. Or perhaps they did, and realised we would all revolt if we knew.”
“Yeah, as I said, fuck those guys.”
A shady looking character sidles down the path and gives Eddie a calculating look. Eddie scowls back, “And fuck you too.”
Surprisingly, the guy decides not to attack the strangely fearless person sitting in the park on his own and talking to himself, and hurries away. “Well done!” Eddie yells after him. “You get to live!” The guy runs faster.
“Dinner.” Venom grumbles.
“Oh shush.” Eddie strokes him, “We’ll get you a chicken from that friend of Ms Chen’s. I’ll even let you chase it around the kitchen.”
Venom subsides a little more cheerfully. And Eddie’s- glad they didn’t have to eat that idiot. Fishing for assholes is one thing- people happy to make him into a hate crime statistic are going to attack other vulnerable people who don’t have hungry alien boyfriends. But eating a mugger is- a bit different.
“You don’t like it.”
“Just- people have reasons to go after you for money.” Eddie leans against Venom. “Fuck, I was there a few times myself. It sucks but- they don’t deserve to get eaten.”
And for once, Venom doesn’t argue. Maybe he feels it too; this sense that they’ve been given a new chance, a clean slate. A need to be better, this time. “We can still go fishing for assholes, though?” He puts in after a moment.
“Oh yeah. That’s self-defense, anyway. I just- want to do this right.” Eddie sighs, knows that Venom doesn’t have any more idea what doing things right looks like either. “Make things better for more people, not just for us.”
“Heroes.” Venom puts in, a little wistfully.
“Yeah.” Eddie smiles. “Big damn heroes. God, we’re happy, do you know how rare that is? I wish more people-“ he breaks off.
He’s not sure which of them thought of it first. Whether it was Venom, putting everything he’s learned together and coming to the logical conclusion, or if Eddie’s finally learned how to use his brain for something constructive.
“Yes.” Venom breathes, “That is a good plan.”
Venom still can’t quite believe Eddie’s managed it. Somehow, he’s gotten their meals delivered directly to their door.
“You don’t look like a doctor?” The kid looks up at them doubtfully.
“I’m not.” Eddie agrees, opening the door wider. “But I’m free, there’s no charge.”
“The chat said you do the whole thing.” The guy shifts over to sit on the edge of the sofa.
He’s pale under that dark skin, smells sick with terror and Venom feels something pull taut inside them- fuck, he’s so young, probably just eighteen, if that- and for a moment Venom can see Eddie sitting there. Eddie as a kid, freshly run away, small and skinny, wide-eyed and furious with fear. Eddie wants to pull this kid in and hug him as desperately as he’d once wanted that hug. “We do.” Eddie agrees, sitting a safe distance away. “Top and bottom, plus a hysterectomy.”
“We?” The boy glances around fearfully, wondering who else is hiding in their little apartment.
“Me and Vee.” Eddie continues, and Venom tenses, getting ready to make his entrance. “Want to say hi, Vee?”
Venom slides out from Eddie’s back. He’s doing his best to not be scary; thin as a snake, all his teeth hidden away, big white eyes. The boy jerks back in shock, but doesn’t run, so Venom chalks that up as a success. “What is that?!”
“Vee. He’s an alien.” Eddie puts his arms around Venom, and strokes him. Venom half closes his eyes at the warm touch, the tickling caress, the sweet-salt taste of Eddie’s skin. Home, better than any he’d ever known. Better than any home this child has known, Venom’s quite sure, and feels a sharp, furious stab of protectiveness. “He won’t hurt you.”
“Are you like- a superhero?” The boy shifts closer, reaches a tentative hand.
Venom slips free from Eddie’s arms and lets himself be petted. “We are a superhero.” The boy’s hand twitches when he speaks, but doesn’t pull away. “Eddie and me. We help people.”
“With gender-reassignment surgery?” There’s a wry smile on the boy’s face.
“Sure, why not?” Eddie smiles, “There’s a gap in the market. We hunt transphobes sometimes too.”
The kid hesitates, looks away from Venom, up at Eddie. “What happens now?”
“Up to you, kid.” Eddie’s voice is so gentle, so soft, Venom half melts and it isn’t even directed at him. The boy relaxes. “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”
“And if I wanna do this?”
“Then Venom goes inside you, and eats your bits. It doesn’t hurt and it’s really quick, and after that- they’re gone. We can’t do much for reconstruction, just a bit of nip and tuck for your chest-“
“And a hormone boost.” Venom puts in.
“And a hormone boost to start you off.” Eddie agrees.
The boy looks between Venom and Eddie. He’s scared, but Venom can feel him weighing up the two options. Trusting Venom; or trusting a body that’s already proven it’s a spiteful piece of shit. Venom widens his eyes, looking as innocent and harmless as he can. The boy manages a weak smile. “Your alien is trying to look cute.”
“Yeah, he’s adorable. You should see him when he’s eating queer-bashers, total babe.” That gets them a giggle.
“Okay.” He takes a deep breath. “I’m game. Let’s go.”
Venom squirms happily, and dives into the hand resting on him. The boy’s body is unstable around him- not a compatible host, but that’s okay. He’s just passing though. It’s the first human body he’s been in since the Riot fiasco, and its easy now, passing harmlessly and painlessly through the muscle and veins and bone. He swarms down into the boy’s chest and- ah, there. Good. Not as tasty as Eddie’s, of course, but what could be? But filling and heavy all the same; comfortingly fatty and full of tasty hormones.
Outside, he can feel Eddie chatting to the boy, keeping his mind off what Venom is doing. Venom licks his teeth clean, and pauses only long enough to munch on the sags of loose skin, pulling the flesh taut over the newly uncovered muscles, and dives down into the boy’s abdomen for the second course.
That’s chewier, more muscle and a lot of sweet, thick blood. Venom drinks it down and chases down every last shred of the boy’s reproductive system, slurping up the ovaries like sucking down spaghetti. He seals the loose tubes back together, tightens the muscles and tissues back together over the empty space he’d made, and squirms back up to touch the boy’s brainstem.
He tries not to look, but it’s impossible to avoid. There’s so much fear there, a prey-animal’s instinct to look for predators behind every corner- no, not predators. Because animals are not cruel or hateful, not like this. There’s hope there too, looking at Eddie almost as ravenously as Venom does, wanting to believe he could be like him, big and strong and not scared of anything. As though Eddie hadn’t felt that fear, that hunted terror.
Because cruelty is always the same, as dull and sickening here as it had been with Riot, but kindness is always different, always new and beautiful. Venom closes his eyes and releases the burst of excess testosterone he’d built up. Finished, he informs the kid, and slips back to Eddie before the kid can react.
“You done, babe?” Eddie welcomes him back with opens hands. “Good meal?”
“Lovely.” Venom licks his jaws clean.
The boy starts, suddenly seeing his teeth for the first time, then he’s patting himself down, pulling off his shirt and the- funny tight black thing he’s wearing under that. Hands flat on his unmarked chest, tears welling in his eyes. “Hey, hey-“ Eddie reaches out, hand hesitating a few inches from the boy’s shoulder. “It’s okay.”
The boy shivers, nods furiously. He looks up, meets Eddie’s eyes, and almost launches himself at him. Eddie’s more than ready, wrapping his arms tight around the narrow frame, hugging tight. “Hey hey.” He whispers. “Hey. It’s okay. It’s all fine. You’re good. You’re good.”
It takes a few minutes, but- they don’t mind. Venom slides out from Eddie’s skin, and winds around the boy too. After a while though, he stops shaking, pulls back, and wipes his face roughly. Eddie hands him a roll of tissues. “Thanks.” His voice is rough, ragged.
“Here.” Eddie hands him a scribbled number. “They’re usually got beds free, and they don’t ask too many questions, ask for Ms Ruby. If it doesn’t work out, come back here, and you can take the sofa.”
The boy nods again. “What about you?” He wavers, blinks hard. “You- need anything?”
“We’re good.” Eddie smiles. “But it you see anyone who might need help- send them our way. Girls too- although we can’t do as much.”
“Okay.” The boy takes a deep breath, and stands up. “I’ll- definitely talk about you. Yeah.” He meets Venom’s eyes. “I won’t tell them about you though, don’t worry.”
“Probably a good idea.” Eddie stands up. “We don’t want scientists or whatever trying to get us, we just finished eating the last lot.” Venom grins. “You don’t need to rush off.”
“I’d better get on this.” He touches the phone number. “Thanks.”
“You need anything, you know where we are. I even know a lawyer. And an actual doctor.”
Hmm, it has been a while since they saw Anne-and-Dan, Venom considers. Maybe they should get back in touch. A new life should have more friends, in his opinion.
“We’ll work things out with them,” Eddie nods, and walks the kid to the door. “You keep safe.”
“Yeah.” The kid manages a smile and it looks real, if still shaky. “I’m Nate.”
“I’m Eddie, and Venom.” When the boy reaches out to take his hand, Eddie presses a twenty into it. The boy meets their eyes defiantly for a moment, then looks away. “You gave Vee a good meal, get yourself one too.”
“Thanks.” He mumbles, and scuttles away down the stairs.
Eddie doesn’t move at once, looking after the disappearing boy, grief like a knife in their chest. Eddie? We helped. We did everything we could.
“I know.” Eddie sighs, and walks back inside. “I just-“ He breaks off, looking around their place as though only just seeing it. Too small, he thinks. He’ll have a better time of it with Ms Ruby, but-
“Just thinking, I guess.” He sighs, rubs his forehead. “Getting broody or something. Just-all those kids, with nowhere to go.”
Flickers of memory; sour and dull in flavor. Empty streets. Cold. Cardboard boxes. Danger in every dark alley, around every corner.
“Yeah.” Eddie throws them down on the sofa, he sighs. “I remember where this place would have been a- paradise. I just want to help, you know. Make a difference to all those people.”
Yes. There are so many people here with no homes, and humans so desperately need their homes, their safe places to curl up warm and comfortable, away from everything. Venom can taste the memories in Eddie, the cold and fear of the world opening wider and wider around him, endless and nowhere wanting him.
Their home is good, but it isn’t very large. Maybe big enough for one or two more people. But there are people with much larger homes, some with more than they can use. They should eat these people and open their homes to everyone.
“I love you.” Eddie smiles, stroking him. “And I love it when you don’t tell me I’m being unrealistic or that I can’t help everyone.”
“Helped him.” Venom nods to the door. “We can help lots of people.”
Eddie doesn’t answer, just gathers him in his arms and hugs him, warm and close and tight. “Yeah, and I love you so much.” A burst of sunshine joy inside them, a warm, hungry kiss. “God, I wish I could marry you.”
“Already married.” Venom purrs, lifts his head and kisses back. “Took my name.”
“And here I thought you took mine.” Eddie grins. “But- hell, I know it’s impossible but I almost wish you hadn’t eaten my bits because- I’d have a kid with you, if you wanted.”
Venom hesitates, but everything in Eddie is shining sincerity. It’s something he’d been trying not to think about but- if Eddie means it…
“That could be arranged.” He says softly.
Chapter 7: An Eye for an Eye
Eddie's family, old and new.
Take Back Our Country! The banner is so huge it’s held up by six people. Six people, crushed forwards against the fences by the mass of humans behind them, all of them screaming.
It’s so loud Venom huddles back inside Eddie’s chest, just under his throat. The noise is still there, a faint trembling through Eddie’s bones. Eddie rubs his knuckles against the bone of his sternum, comfortingly. “It’s okay, babe.” The words tremble through his throat.
Loud. Venom whispers.
“Yeah, that’s kinda what happens in a protest.”
The fences are lined with police, their backs to the screaming people, facing towards Eddie. They have guns, tazers, nightsticks. They squint over the edge of their riot shields as Eddie walks over to them, looks them up and down. “You’re not wearing your number.”
“Or your bodycam.” Eddie continues. He pulls out his notebook and writes something down.
Venom can hear the cop grind his teeth. “Want to know why?” He grunts, barely audible.
“Oh, I’d just love to know.” Eddie steps forwards- and is hit by a waterbottle. It jars off the side of his head, and Venom feels Eddie’s brain shudder under the blow; rushes up and engulfs it to check for damage.
“Stay back or we’ll have to arrest you!” The cop sounds relieved to have something to yell at Eddie about.
Eddie touches the side of his head, Venom soaks through his skull and soaks up the blood pooling below the skin. “Thanks love.” Eddie whispers. “Sorry, did you miss the point I was just assaulted?” He points to the grinning idiot in the march, who adjusts his red hat and gives Eddie the finger.
The policeman says nothing.
Do we still not eat policemen? Venom teases, gently nuzzling over the soft tissues around the brain, soothing the bruising.
“I think we can make exceptions.” Eddie says tightly, and makes another note. “You got this?”
The kid nods. She’s pale and clutching her camera like a life-preserver and God, Eddie’s thoughts are despairing, where do they find these kids? She’s about twelve. She’s holding the camera steady though.
“Come on then.”
They fight their way through the counter-protesters, their photographer struggling to keep up. Venom curls up away from Eddie’s ears, but watching through his eyes in fascination.
This is a full buffet of assholes. There are the morons in the red hats, which are a maybe for eating. The idiots with the broken-cross flags are a definitely for eating as long as they can get them out of sight. The same with those waving the flags with the crosses with stars on them. And-
“Wow.” Eddie breathes. “They’ve got some fucking nerve.”
Venom peers closer. We can eat them too?
“Oh hell yeah. Free for all.” Eddie’s hands lock into fists and he hates, sour and hot in his chest cavity.
Honestly, Venom is wondering if they’re even going to have space. All that raw, ready meat just there, ready for eating. They might be too full even before they get to this batch, and anyway, Venom isn’t sure about the hood, it might get stuck in their teeth. Maybe they’ll eat the rest and use this lot of decoration, those white robes look like they’d take blood beautifully.
Eddie sends him an image that’s so- brutal and visceral that Venom actually stops. Eddie? I don’t think the intestines can hold up full body weight.
I mean- probably not. Eddie rubs his forehead, sighs. The sour tang fades into a heavy sort of sickness. I just- I know these guys, you know. They’d kill us, or worse than kill us. Us, and everyone on this side of the protest.
All of them?
“Pretty much, yeah.” Eddie breathes.
And we want to kill them back?
“No one but us.” Eddie rubs his knuckles over his chest again. “Everyone else is too nice.”
That’s why we are here. Venom preens. We keep them safe.
“Damn right.” Eddie makes another note. “You got that grand wizard asshole?”
The kid nods. She’s shrinking back behind the camera until Venom idly wonders if by the end of this protest, all they’ll see of her will be a camera on legs.
“Keep them coming.” Eddie glances back and, seeing her so pale, he steps back. “Hey, it’s okay.”
Her head snaps up. “It really isn’t!”
Eddie smiles, “Nah, you’re right there but every picture we get, it’s another asshole who gets his face on social media!” He yells the last at the top of his voice.
There’s another roar, and a glass bottle whizzes past them and smashes across the tarmac. The kid jumps, but takes in a deep breath, and snaps a photo of the exact moment the idiot’s smirk turns into a look of shock.
“Nice.” Eddie nods. “Come on, kiddo.”
“I’m seventeen.” The girl mumbles.
“Good for you. Main meetup’s coming up around the corner.”
Humans like their symbols, Venom thinks, as they move into the packed square. He can pick out the familiar ones on their side- the rainbows, the black-on-white fist, the dawnlight stripes of blue, pink and white. Those are for them, Venom knows, those they defend and keep safe. It’s the others they can hunt down. The broken cross and the cross with stars on it, the red hat and-
What is that one? Venom nudges Eddie.
Eddie glances, and freezes. His bones all lock up, joints seizing in shock. “Oh fuck.”
Venom flood through him, boiling up just under his skin, ready to pour out. Bad guys?
“Yeah.” All the water is gone from Eddie’s mouth, the word’s a whisper.
Eddie nods, and- it hurts. Like Eddie had swallowed something sharp, that was cutting into him from the inside. Venom peers out from the hollow of Eddie’s throat, just over the edge of his coat. They don’t look very tasty. Old and stringy, weather beaten as leather and about as tough. They seem to know they are being hunted, because their clothes are mottled and blend into each other, trying to make it harder for them to pick out a single one to kill.
Joke’s on them; Venom’s claws are itching, and it’s not entirely him. Eddie’s teeth are clenched, and there’s a horrible knot of helpless hate somewhere inside his chest. He’s staring at a man, skin taut and hard as old wood, face ragged and coarse as like a badly carved statue.
Then he turns, his eyes meet Eddie’s- and they’re just like his. Sharp and blue as a newborn star- only so cold, horribly cold, where Eddie’s are so warm.
Carl’s face contorts. He knows him. After so long, Eddie hadn’t thought he would- but then, he’s the one plastering his face all over TV. Eddie’s lips peel back from his teeth and he wants to bite. He wants Venom’s teeth, to tear and rip and feel the particularly rich rush of hot blood down his throat.
Every without Venom; some of that must have bled through, because Carl recoils. His hand snaps tight on the shoulder of a small boy beside him and- oh god. Oh god no. Not again. Oh please no let it not have happened again.
The boy looks at Carl with terrified eyes and oh, he knows that look. The terror. The desperation to be anywhere but here, but not daring to move. The hand clenched so tight on his shoulder that Eddie knows if they looked under his clothes, they could count the fingerprint bruises. New and old, layered over and over in purple and green and fading yellow.
No. Please no. It had been him and Mary and that had been enough, dear god that had been two too many. The boy’s mouth moves, a silent please.
Carl’s hand squeezes and the boy starts, blinking hard to keep the tears back. He chokes, shaking his head. Carl snarls something Eddie can’t hear over the ringing in his ears, shoves the boy forwards against the barrier.
And the boy looks at Eddie; with eyes so much like those Eddie sees in the mirror. Desperate, pleading, I’m sorry.
Eddie looks back, heart breaking. I know, he tries to say. It’s okay. I forgive you.
“Faggot!” The boy screams, and there’s a world of tears swallowed down in that word. “Fucking dyke-“
Venom blocks out the rest, the words burst out of the boy’s mouth like vomit, leaving the child crying and shuddering in the sheer awfulness of it. Eddie- Venom whispers, horrified. Oh Eddie.
I’m okay. He isn’t, but at least he’s here, on this side of the barrier. Not like this child. This poor, poor boy-
Not you. Him. Like you. A little Eddie.
No, no because Eddie had been lucky. At least Carl had thought him a girl- weak, soft, useless. He hadn’t cared, had left him and Mary behind when he’d gone survivalist. This boy hadn’t had that kindness. He was Carl Brock’s longed-for son, the boy he’d beat into his own image.
The boy sags against the barrier, as though all the hate had wrung him dry; silent tears running down his cheeks. I’m sorry, his mouth moves. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
“You fucking piece of trash.” Eddie whispers, because oh, Carl is so proud. Looks back at Eddie with gloating, glittering eyes.
Eddie’s hands clench so hard he can feel Venom’s claws biting into his palms, can taste Venom’s teeth rearing behind his lips. He’s so close, nothing but the fence between them- cheap steel. Their claws would tear through it like tinfoil, and the follow-through would gut Carl like a fish. God, they wouldn’t even eat him, wouldn’t dirty their teeth with him. Just trample his guts into the tarmac and hack and kill and rip and splay blood everywhere until there wasn’t anything left of Carl Brock, nothing but a smear of gore on the street, gone in the next rains-
Eddie jerks to a halt; he’s barely a step from the fence. Carl recoils, pulling the boy in front of him like a shield. There’s a spark of fear in his eyes, his mouth moves in half-formed curses. So close. So close. The boy face twists in desperate hope- please.
But he’s not alone and- fuck, but that’s Jones, and that evil little shit Richards, whose creeping eyes made Eddie want to wash every time they looked at him. They’ve backed off a step, hands going to their belts, the hem of their pants, the ugly, bulging bags at their feet.
He took the guns.
Eddie swallows, god, if they shoot- that’ll be all the excuse he and Vee will need to attack, and Venom eats bullets. But the ground behind them is packed. Eddie can feel Gwen- the photographer- pulling at his sleeve desperately, trying to get away from this madness.
If they shoot, it won’t be just at Eddie. It’ll be a massacre, and Carl Brock’s wanted a massacre for decades.
Eddie draws in a deep breath and forces himself backwards, one step, two. Carl’s fearful face relaxes into a gloating smile, the boy’s face falls into despair. But the men’s hands are relaxing on their guns, they’re shuffling back to the barrier, mouths moving as they return to hurling slurs and hate at them.
“Come on!” Gwen's voice breaks through the deafening rage, jerks him back to himself. “Let’s get out of here. I got a few shots of their guns.”
Eddie nods, the world isn’t quite real yet, sound fading in and out like a bad radio. All he can see is the boy. Oh god, the boy. Please no.
We can take over, Eddie. Venom murmurs. You don’t have to-
“We can’t kill them.” Eddie mumbles, “They’ll open fire on everyone.”
We know. We won’t. Not yet.
Yes. Soon. Eddie relaxes and feels himself- slide back, away from the world and into the warm, liquid hug of Venom. His body moves around him, easy and fluid. Venom looks out through his eyes, hears through his ears. Eddie hopes he can pretend to be him convincingly enough.
We know you, he feels Venom smile with his mouth. Shh, Eddie, safe. When this is over, we’ll hunt them down.
Eddie nods- or tries to. His body isn’t his right now. There’s nothing but Venom washing over him, soothingly, a counterpoint to the images seared behind his eyes. That child- his brother.
We’ll get him out.
Chapter 8: A Tooth For a Tooth
Karma's a bitch, Carl Brock.
He hated me, Eddie whispers in their shared mind. He blamed me for killing mom when I was born. She was his- fucking idol, the perfect wife I took from him. And after I’m gone, he just goes and- it didn't mean anything.
Never meant it. Just said it to hurt you.
It worked. Fuck, it’s been more than fifteen years and it still hurts. And it was just- a lie. Just another powerplay to go with all the others. And the worst part is that he should have guessed. As though Carl could ever have loved anyone like that, he was a fool to have believed-
Eddie closes his eyes, leans into Venom’s embrace. Held and cradled, tucked away from the world. Right now, Eddie wants to stay here and never leave again.
Not your fault. Venom murmurs, rocking him gently, like the child he had been. Lies and more lies. I know. Much the same, on the comet.
…yes. He supposes Venom would understand. The endless repetition of you are worthless, you are unworthy-
No one will love you. Venom agrees sadly. You are mad to dream of love. All lies, my Eddie. Madness and misery.
And sometimes, that feels like reality. Like that is the truth, and their little world of joy and light is just… a fantasy, to be mocked and shattered.
And Venom just- opens something inside them and it’s like clouds parting after a storm, light blazing down bright and cleansing, throwing the reality of the world into stark relief. Warm and comforting, a sweet reminder of what is real, and it’s so much bigger, so much incredibly better than his father’s world.
Eddie exhales, and opens his eyes. And freezes.
We wanted to make sure we could follow them. Venom strokes him soothingly. It’s safer from up here.
Okay, yes. He’s right, but- this is very high up. Eddie swallows; they can look down at the protest far below, the tiny ovals of different coloured heads, the thin wavering lines of banners. The narrow black-and-blue of the police between the two groups. Venom squeezes his hand, and Eddie can feel through their claws, digging solidly into the brickwork behind them. It’s secure and strong, and he breathes a little more easily.
The protest is starting to break up. The edges of the crowd are fragmenting, like a slow disintegration. Eddie checks the front of the crowd; hopefully they won’t have gone far-
There, by the trees. We have been watching. We won’t let them get away.
Eddie sees the bags before he recognizes anyone. The heavy duffel bags piled up besides the bushes, bulging sinisterly even from up here. And there, sitting beside it, is the boy. He’s half hidden under the branches, hugging his knees so tightly as thought wanting to curl up and vanish entirely. Eddie’s heart hurts.
Their world. So beautiful and kind, opening up wide and glorious as a new morning. But God, it had taken them so long to get here. What wouldn’t he have given for someone to find him and take him away from that misery and darkness, show him just how good life could be?
He wants to move, to swing down and snatch up the boy and carry him away here and now. End this horror right now, not let the boy suffer another heartbeat of this madness-
But someone is coming. They’re too high up to hear anything, but it’s easy to recognize Carl. He picks up a bag with one hand, and drags the boy upright with the other. Venom bares their teeth and they tense.
The whole revolting group breaks up into twos and threes, heading back to their pick-up trucks. For a moment, they lose sight of the boy as they swing around the building, and it takes a moment for Venom to recognise the truck from Eddie’s memories- a little more battered, a little more beat up- and he’s about to leap out after it-
Stop. Eddie clenches their claws on the side of the building, not letting them jump. That’s not them, look.
Richards is in the driver’s seat, Evans beside him. No one in the back. Where did they go-
Here. Venom turns their head. They’d almost missed Carl. He’d lagged back, around the corner, packing the duffel bags in the boot of an ancient, rusting saloon car. The boy is hovering, not wanting to come closer until Carl pulls him over and shoves him into the car.
Where are they going?
I don’t know. His stomach clenches, he had never seen this car before. Of course, he’s not seen the old bastard for years, but Carl never drove a car like this. And the plates are Californian. It’s rented, or bought recently. Something disposable. Something that can’t easily be traced. Don’t lose them.
No. The cat rattles, lurches forwards, the loose trunk bangs. They crawl up to the roof, and jump from building to building. The car rattles south, then lurches east, towards the piers. Or maybe- the Oakland bridge?
Please. Eddie murmurs inside them. Please. Let them just be leaving, heading out of the city and they can follow. Please, they came for nothing more that the protest, please-
But the car doesn’t go far down the boulevard before turning sharply into a smaller side street- into Tenderloin. Their home.
They can’t know where we live. Eddie shivers.
We’ll kill them if they come. Venom growls deep in their throat.
But that’s- not the point. The point is that Carl is here. In their home. The car shudders past Ms Chen’s shop and it’s- obscene. Two worlds that should never meet, Carl smearing his ugliness across the familiar streets.
He may come in, but he won’t leave. Venom caresses his back. Our home, Eddie, keep it safe. Eat the threat.
Eddie nods; the sun is setting now, the shadows of the buildings drowning the car in shadow. They’re heading towards Chinatown.
God, he hopes Ms Chen’s not gone out to restock. He wishes they could just- grab everyone and carry them away, make sure Carl couldn’t go near anyone. Hurt anyone.
Oh God, the boy.
The car finally judders to a halt outside a boarded up warehouse. Carl climbs out, and fiddles with the lock on the garage door. It screeches as it opens, raw with rust. He goes to the truck and starts pulling out the duffel bags. God, what’s in those? Even all of Carl’s guns wouldn’t fill that many bags.
“No!” Even from so far away, the boy’s cry cuts through the sounds of the city. Eddie stiffens, and they’re halfway down the building before he’s even aware of it, headfirst and he isn’t even scared of the fall anymore, drowned out by the no no no inside his head.
Carl has the boy by the arm, trying to drag him into the warehouse. He’s pulling away, shaking his head over and over but those fingers are tight as a trap, not letting go. Eddie catches a snatch of something from Carl “-want to finally- filthy whores and degenerates-“ but then the wind turns and any more words are blown away.
He doesn’t need to hear. Carl slaps the boy across the face with a crack that makes Eddie flinch, feels the shadow of the blow across his own cheek- no- and shoves the child into the warehouse, the door crashing closed behind them.
For a moment, Eddie cannot move. Can’t breathe. A hundred old bruises suddenly raw on his skin, his head ringing after a blow, father’s screaming hate in his ears.
Eddie. He’s so far gone he doesn’t recognize the voice at first. Oh, my Eddie. Stay. Stay here. We are here, Eddie, you are here.
Venom’s tongue brushes over his closed lids, licking away the tears. Eddie’s breath is coming too fast, Venom tight around him as he shakes, struggling to hang onto the wall. Vee?
Here. Not there. Will never let him hurt you, Eddie. Kill him for what he did.
Not hurt him, no. Not again. But the boy-
Yes. Save him too.
Eddie nods, draws in a shuddering breath. When he opens his eyes, they are them again. Two in one. Venom. They are strong and fierce and fearless, and nothing can hurt them.
“Yes.” They speak with one voice, and jump down the last few stories to the pavement below.
They have only taken two steps towards the warehouse when the shot rings out. So close it’s like a thundercrack, the shock of it hitting them like a physical blow.
They freeze, crouch against the tarmac. The world is stunningly, terribly quiet as the echoes fade, the warehouse still and silent as a skull.
They’re moving before they’re really aware of it. The street gapes open too wide, too far. Oh no, please no no no oh God Eddie’s mind is pull of gunshot images, the force of a shot from so close, the damage a bullet could do in such a small body-
Their claws hit the garage door with the scream of tearing metal. The metal slats shudder, the rivets pop and the entire lower half of the door is ripped off. They barrel through headfirst, teeth bared and bloody from the steel. Find him. Kill him. Save the boy-
And stop. The room resolves itself through the haze of rage and panic. Dark and damp. The bags piled beside a massive workbench. Two figures. One standing straight-backed and trembling, the other sprawled on the floor, bleeding out across the concrete. They straighten; draw in a deep shuddering breath and it comes heavy with the tang of blood.
Carl doesn’t move. The rifle had blown out his ribcage and he was dead before he hit the floor. His face frozen in an expression of shock; eyes wide, mouth slightly open.
The boy hasn’t even seen them. His hands are locked around the Springfield, white knuckled and shaking. Carl had loved that gun; Eddie thinks distantly, always kept it oiled, always loaded. Always ready to fire, every time Eddie stepped out of line. The black circle of the barrel swallowing up the world; the fear of it chasing him out of the house.
And now, finally, it had gone off.
The shaking spreads up the boy’s arms, through his body until he’s barely able to stand, rocking backwards and forwards and clutching the gun and staring at Carl. A low moan growing in his throat, a pained animal sound.
They take a step forwards and the boy jumps so hard that the rifle jars out of his hands and cracks on the floor, the stock splintering. He stares at them- at their stomach at first, then up and up and up over their claws, their massive shoulders, their arched neck-
To their face, their eyes, their half-open mouth, their teeth.
The boy chokes, a half-broken cry, and his eyes fill with tears. His hands spasm where the gun had been, clench on nothing and he gives a high, trembling scream, the tears breaking down his face.
They take another step another, closer and closer but the boy doesn’t try to run, tears coming faster and faster down his face. His hands fall away helplessly, he looks up at them and- he isn’t scared. He’s beyond fear, certain they are about to kill him and desperately glad of it. Anything, just as long as this all stops.
And oh but Eddie knows that so well, he feels the tears burning their eyes in return. They crouch down, open their arms. And the boy rushed into them, burying his face in their shoulder and muffling sobs against their skin. They press their head against the boy’s matted hair, run their claws very lightly against the tattered too-large coat.
“Safe.” The words come from both of them, warm and rumbling. “No one will hurt you. We eat the bad guys.”
The boy doesn’t answer, but the sobs redouble, and they feel the boy’s shoulders buckle, and shake apart as the dam breaks and he cries and cries and cries, the tears ripping free in raw, suffocated screams.
Behind him, over his shoulder, they can see a table covered in nails, broken razorblades, pieces of barbed wire. All packed around a thick brick of plastic explosive. Eddie shudders, and Venom draws the boy more tightly against them. A roll of paper and a ball of string discarded on the floor. Three more carefully wrapped packages in an open duffel bag. Six duffel bags.
Eddie moans, soundless inside them. A low growl reaches their throat and the boy’s fingers dig into their flesh, and they drop it to a purr, deep and soothing, letting the vibrations flow into the boy’s thin, shivering body.
Finally, the boy’s sobs fade to deep, shuddering gasps for air. Exhausted hiccups jerking through him. The grip on them relaxes, little by little and they let him pull away, far enough to look them in the face.
The boy’s mouth moves, shaping words he can’t quite get out. So they speak instead.
“We are Venom, and you are safe.” They run the tips of their claws over the boy’s head and he closes his eyes, too worn out to do anything but lean into the caress. “Cover your ears, small one, and keep your eyes closed.”
It must be a mark of how awful everything has been that the boy does exactly what they say. They move him over to face the wall, make sure he’s got his eyes shut and hands tight over his ears, and give him one last squeeze to the shoulder before they let go and turn back to the mess on the floor.
I can do this, babe.
You do not have to.
I know, but I’ve been getting ready for this all my life. I need to see it finished.
They nod, walk over to the carcass of Carl Brock, and start to eat.
They lap over the concrete to catch any last drops of blood, and snap up the rifle just in case. The boy hasn’t moved; eyes crushed out of sight, hands trembling where they’re clamped to his ears. They run their claws over his shoulders, “It is done, you can look.”
The boy slowly, slowly cracks each eye open, lashes wet and matted together with salt. They smile and the boy gives a trembling smile back, staring at the clean, empty floor. “Oh.” It’s barely more than a breath.
“He- he-“ the boy shudders, eyes darting to the nail bombs. “He was going to-“
“I didn’t want to- I tried to stop him-“ his head snaps one way and the other. He’s trying to find the gun, the body.
“You did.” A strangled sob. “You saved so many people. You are a hero.”
The boy shakes his head, over and over, but when they pull him in again, he goes; throwing his hands around their neck.
“Listen to us, small one.” They murmur. “Listen to us, and no one will know. You will be safe, and far away from the monsters. There is a world outside, child, and it is so, so good.”
The boy clings to them, arms around their neck, legs locked around their chest. They stand, cradling him close; and walk outside.
Chapter 9: Sheathe Away, and Smile
Venom and Eddie take Dylan home, take care of things, and Annie finally appears.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The monster carries him up, hand over hand up the side of the building until Dylan is clutching at their neck in desperate terror. It must have realised his panic, because it stops at the top and steadies him, holding him in place with a massive clawed hand.
He’d- dreamed of this. For someone to come, to break down the door and scoop him up and gone. He’d dreamed of it so many times, with so many saviors. Captain America. Mrs Majorie from school. Even sister Mary. Someone. Anyone.
He’d never imagined this beast. This- demon. It has to be. He’d never quite believed father’s rants about demons walking the streets of a new Sodom, but clearly they are real. Huge and hulking and slick black, with massive empty white eyes and a broad smile of needle teeth. The claws wrapped around his back are long black knives, so sharp his jacket is already fraying where they bite into the fabric. Holding him tight as they jump from the top of the building.
The rushing wind tears the scream out of his mouth before it can come out properly, but long black tentacles lash out of the demon’s body, catching on the buildings opposite and swinging them across the road.
“Safe.” The beast rumbles, the heat of its breath ruffling his hair. “Not letting you fall.”
Dylan tightens his grip and nods. Yes. Of course it wouldn’t. Because of course father was wrong. Everything he thought evil and perverse would be kind. Thought. Had thought. Never would again.
The gun, kicking in his hands. The look of shock frozen forever on father’s face. Dylan closes his eyes and buries his face into the demon’s shoulder, the hand on his back squeezes gently as his tears run down the slick black skin. “Shh, nearly home.”
Dylan does look up at that. Home? Are- are they going to hell? The fear flickers up for a moment, then collapses again. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. If it’s anything like this beast, perhaps it would be a nice place; warm, with damned souls roasting marshmallows over the flames and the devil playing all the music Dylan had never been allowed to listen to. Besides, if father is in heaven- Dylan really, really doesn’t want to go there.
But the demon doesn’t drop them into a hole straight to the abyss. Instead, they swing down and drop onto a roof, then crawl down a few floors before hooking a claw under a window, and pulling it open.
“Here,” it nudges him. “Go in.”
Dylan tries not to look down and swings his legs through the window. He squints around the darkened room, but there are no flickering flames, no red-tailed devil. Just a living room with a kitchen attached, a big, squashy sofa and a battered little table, everything worn and tired but- welcoming, radiating a warmth that has nothing to do with heat.
The lights come on and Dylan jumps. The demon blinks in the light, but doesn’t seem bothered by it. The light glistens on its oily skin, flashing off its needle teeth. It had been big in the garage, but here it’s huge, head nearly brushing the ceiling, Dylan huddles back, bumps into the sofa, and sits down hard.
The demon doesn’t follow, cocks its head as though considering something, then just- melts away.
Dylan gives a short cry because as terrifying as the thing is- the idea of being left alone is so much worse.
But the beast doesn’t disappear, instead, the black pours away into pale and very human skin, the long, savage head sinking back into a round human head, the claws shrinking away like ice under fire. The white eyes blink and blink away and Dylan’s jaw drops.
Eddie Brock gives him a small smile. “Hey kid.”
He- he- how? Father had said he was a monster, a creature so utterly wrong it didn’t know whether it was man or woman. He’d never quite understood that, he’d seen the Eddie Brock show at the library, when he could get away from home. Eddie seemed a lot like a man to him. “You-“ he starts up, and has no idea what to say.
“Yeah.” He steps closer, and gently pushes Dylan down to the sofa. “It’s okay.”
His voice is a strange mash of his and the demon’s, and when Dylan looks up, the demon’s head is peering over Eddie’s shoulder, black flesh flowing endlessly as water away from those teeth, those eyes narrowed in concern. “This is Vee.” Eddie strokes the demon’s neck. “He won’t hurt you.”
“You’re safe here.” The demon growls.
Safe. Dylan feels the shivering start again, he clenches his fists to try and control it, but it’s- too much. Eddie Brock, staring at him across from the protest, about to cry at the sight of him. The horrible, foul words ripping from his throat, father’s hands digging new bruises into his shoulders. Father’s hands on the… the…
“The bombs.” He chokes.
Oh god but they were still there. Father had been putting the last wires and then the others would come and take them tomorrow and-
“It’s okay.” Eddie pulls a blanket off the back of a chair and tucks it around his shoulders. “We’re on it, deep breaths.”
The air is coming in short, ragged pants, he hugs his knees and shudders as Eddie pulls his phone out, and types in a number. “It’s okay.” He looks steadily at Dylan as it rings. “It’s all gonna be fine, promise.”
The demon snakes down beside him, large eyes blinking at him, teeth tucked away. “We will eat anyone who tries to hurt us.” It murmurs.
“Shush, darling. Yes,” Eddie speaks up, “Eddie Brock, yeah- that Eddie Brock. I’ve picked up a lost kid.“
Dylan jumps, horror and betrayal blazing through him until he’s about to be sick. He’s- getting rid of him. Of course, why wouldn’t he? It’s not like he’d want some dumb kid running around-
“No,” The demon whispers. “You stay. This is a plan. Shh, just follow along.”
Dylan shivers and nods, the demon extends a fluid arm and strokes his shoulders gently. Eddie nods approvingly. “Found him along Powell.” He raises his eyebrows at Dylan, Dylan swallows and nods. “Father just left him on the side of the road and disappeared. Yeah, of course we looked. Three hours wandering around Tenderloin. I do, I’m next of kin. The boy’s my brother.”
Brother, it’s another shock, but- a good one. He’d- never had a brother before. He had Mary, and- they never did use a word for Eddie. Not ones he wants to even think about, anyway. He closes his eyes and leans into the demon’s comforting arm.
It nudges him, and he quickly opens his eyes again, Eddie’s eyes are wide, “Uh, yeah, surname Brock, first name-“ He flaps a hand frantically at Dylan.
“Dylan.” He puts in quickly.
“Dylan. D-L-Y-A-N.” He watches him closely, and Dylan nods.
“Yeah. Yeah. Sure. Around the old shoe warehouse. No, he does that, but never for this long. Yeah, soon as you can. Thanks.”
He exhales and hangs up. “Okay, shouldn’t take long. They’ll have people out checking the place out, and we left the door open.”
“You called the police?” Dylan’s head snapped up, “They’ll-“
“They won’t.” Eddie slides in sits beside him. “There’s nothing too find. Just the bombs; and that’ll get them freaked out. The others’ll be arrested, and they’ll think he’s gone to ground.”
“But- father said- the bombs-“
“Not your fault.” The demon growls.
“You saw father doing something,” Eddie says firmly, “You didn’t know what it was. You saw him putting things in the bags-“ his voice cracks, he stops, swallows, and the demon wraps itself around his shoulders and squeezes. He closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath. “You don’t know any of this. Father just left you on the side of the road and you don’t know where he went. And now, we need a lawyer.”
The demon perks up eagerly. “Annie?”
The boy- Dylan- is tucked up warm with blankets and a mug of their best hot chocolate, and is starting to look a bit less pale when the phones rings. Eddie doesn’t bother answering, and just goes straight to the door.
“Which one was it.” It’s not even a question, just a flat statement as Annie barges in. “The MAGAs, the KKK or the fucking Nazis?” She gives Venom a brief nod, and stops short when she sees Dylan.
“For once, it wasn’t us.” Eddie walks over to stand beside the boy. “Dylan, this is Annie, she’s a friend of ours. Annie-“ he takes a breath and Venom purrs at the tangle of joy-pain flashing through them as he finished, “This is Dylan. My brother.”
That puts an end to whatever speech Annie was planning. She stiffens, and looks between Eddie and Dylan, her face falling from its stiff lines to softened sorrow. “Oh, Eddie, did you-”
Eddie hesitates, and Dylan scrunches himself into an even tighter ball. Venom nudges him gently, “She is safe. You can tell her.”
“We can say it.” Eddie puts in.
Dylan shakes his head, and lifts it. “I- I-“ he chokes, shudders, “I killed him.” Tears break over his cheeks, “He- he was going to- I had to-“
“He was making bombs.” Eddie looks away. “Guess he finally decided to make his last stand.” Venom shivers at the old horror locked inside like permafrost.
“No.” Annie’s gone pale. “Is the police-“
“I sent them a tip off.” Eddie sighs, “They’ll be finding them pretty soon. Vee and I took care of the body.”
“Shit.” She sinks down on a chair and rubs her face. “Okay. That’s- a new one. You want me to take care of the police?”
“I saw Dylan in the protest, with father.” Eddie’s voice is steady, relaying the plan they’d put together on the way home. “I wanted to find them; I knew what a- fucking monster he was. I wanted to help Dylan; I saw Dylan wandering around Tenderloin alone and I wanted to make sure he was okay.”
Annie nods, she knows they’re lying, but it’s okay. They can trust her. “Why did you and- Mr Brock come to San Francisco?” Her voice is soft, gentle.
Dylan looks at Eddie and him, takes in a deep breath. “I don’t know. He wanted to go to the protest but he had- something in the bags. I don’t know what it was, but he was keeping it for the others. I saw him putting- things with wires, inside.”
“Leave off the last bit.” Annie shakes her head. “You just saw the bags, nothing inside. That’s more than enough when they find the bombs.”
“Okay, I just saw the bags. He- he didn’t let me see inside.” He sips at the chocolate, but it’s all gone.
Eddie takes a mug and starts making more. “Want some, Annie?”
“Got anything stronger?” Annie rubs her face. “Good, he was keeping it away from you. You thought you were just going to the protest, then he left you on the side of the road and- drove off?”
“No,” Eddie pours the hot water, four big mugs, Venom sniffs hungrily at his. “I said I found him near the warehouse.”
“He stopped the car and pushes me out.” Dylan closes his eyes, he's a good liar. He'd have to be, living like that. “He told me to fuck off and not come back.” Venom shivers, it might not have been what happened tonight, but he knows it too well. He feels the shadows of it clinging to Eddie and hugs him a little closer.
“It happened before?” Annie coaxes, Dylan nods. “Good, use that. But he never left you alone for so long?” At Dylan’s all-too-telling shrug. “In a strange place?”
“I told you about him.” Eddie says stiffly. “But- yeah, three hours, more than usual, right?”
“So that would have been around seven this evening?” Annie continues.
“Maybe more like seven thirty.” Eddie puts in.
“Seven twenty two.” Dylan nods, Annie blinks. “I saw the clock before he kicked me out, it was after half past, but the clock was fast.”
“They’re going to find the car.” Annie frowns, “Is the clock fast?”
“Good, then use that. That’ll help.” She rubs her eyes and sighs. “This was not how I was planning to spend my evening but- shit.” She looks between them, helpless, Eddie rests a hand on Venom’s neck, the other on Dylan’s shoulder. The boy slumps under the touch turning his face up to them. How often had he been touched in kindness, before tonight? Venom gives a low growl, just off a purr, and he relaxes a little more.
Annie shakes her head. “And what about after this?” She sighs, “Got any plans?”
Eddie looks at him, and Venom nods, but anything they’d like to say is lost by the sudden scream of sirens outside. Annie groans and stands up, downing the remains of her mug. “Showtime.”
In the end, there isn’t much for them to do. Just relate the same story over and over. He’d seen Dylan at the protest; he went after them because he knew their father was a piece of shit. And oh fuck when Dylan took his shirt off to show the bruises and old welts and he’s sure there’s something wrong with his collarbone Eddie can’t wait until the cops fuck off and Venom can have a proper look at him. He found Dylan wandering the streets and took him home. No, they didn’t know about the bombs, no, they had no idea of the targets.
“Haven’t spoken to the fucker in years.” Eddie continues, still resting a hand on Dylan’s shoulder because the boy is doing better with contact. “But- yeah, that’s one of the reasons. You’ve probably got a few of my tip-offs on file, I’ve been warning about him for decades.”
The cop’s not looking too good, and no wonder. There was probably enough in those bombs to take out most of the Castro, and she must be imagining what the front pages of tomorrow’s newspapers would have looked like. “We’re following up with the FBI,” is all she says. “Do you know where he may have gone?”
Eddie looks at her pale face, the hand shaking on her notebook, just a little and- oh. Oh fuck. They- hadn’t considered how that might look. It does look like Carl might have taken a bomb and gone off to get the party started by himself.
“He wouldn’t have done it alone.” Eddie says carefully. “He brought all his buddies to join in. Maybe he got mugged or something.” It sounds weak even to his own ears.
“We’ll be bringing them in as soon as possible.”
The cop looks so fucking miserable that Eddie actually feels sorry for her. “I know two of them took Carl’s truck,” he puts in, “I can give you the numberplate.”
Her eyes light up as Eddie scribbles it down. About the best thing that’s come out of this evening is that Annie’s monopolized all the attention from Dylan. He’s curled up on the sofa, half asleep, the mug trailing from his fingers and tipping cold chocolate on the floor. Don’t think about it.
No, Venom sounds oddly subdued, Can wait for later, Eddie.
You okay, darling?
Don’t want them here, Eddie. Need to be just us, heal from today.
What about Dylan?
Heal him too.
Eddie nods; he wishes Venom was out here for him to hold. He… needs it now, be held close and warm and loved. Go to sleep- fucking god, sleep and wake up to a better morning tomorrow.
Finally, Annie manages to convince the police that they really don’t know anything else. They insist on having a cop stationed outside their door no matter how much Eddie insists no one knows where they live, and finally finally finally leave.
Dylan starts up as the door snaps shut; the mug clatters to the floor, and he looks around in a panic. “You’re safe,” Venom peels off his shoulder, nudging Dylan gently. “We ate him, remember?”
It doesn’t help much, the memories slam in and Dylan goes even paler. Eddie pats his shoulder. “It’s okay, you can stay for as long as you want.”
Dylan gives him the bleakest look because- where else could he go? Eddie knows that too well.
“And it’s- gone three AM.” Annie yawns, “Do I have to call Dan to pick me up, or could I crash here?”
Eddie pauses, and smiles. “If Dylan doesn’t mind sharing with us. The bed’s big enough- or we can set things up on the floor?”
Dylan shakes his head, but looks too groggy to say much. “Don’ mind the bed.” He's still shivering, still exhausted and jumpy- he needs someone close by tonight.
“Come on then.”
Dylan just balls up in the bed and vanishes in a bundle of duvet and pillows. Eddie checks on Annie, but she hasn’t even bothered pulling out the sofa, just slumping on the thing with her legs hanging off the end, already asleep.
He waits a moment, waiting as Venom laps up the discarded chocolate on the floor. A few months ago, Annie would have rather walk home than spend an evening with them, let alone overnight. It’s- a relief. It feels good. After being so alone, and now it’s not just Venom, but a whole web of friends around them. Friends, and a family.
Eddie walks back to the bedroom and lies down on the bed beside Dylan. He lets the boy keep the blankets, and Venom wells out around him, wrapping around them in a warm and endless hug. Eddie closes his eyes and buries his face in the tender coils. He could have all the world, and he’d give it all up just for Vee.
Venom murmurs in his ear, soft and senseless. Love you, my Eddie, love you so much. All mine, Eddie, safe now. So good, when we wake up, Eddie. Safer, kinder, better because of us.
Eddie nods. “I know, sweetheart. Love you too. We did good today.” His eyes ache with exhaustion, but he looks across to the softly breathing pile of duvet beside them, and smiles. “Hell of lot of good.”
Yes. He leans down and brushes his muzzle across Eddie’s mouth in a kiss. Sleep, my Eddie, a good morning tomorrow.
Yeah, a good morning. And another, after that. And another, after that. Morning after morning, and every one brighter than the one that came before. Eddie closes his eyes, and falls asleep with a happy smile.
Although I'm not ruling out continuing this series; this is, for the moment, the end of this story. Thank you for coming along for the journey and do prompt on my tumblr if you have more ideas for this fic!