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Greater Than the Sum

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It wasn’t that Venom was incompetent – he would sure as hell argue against such an accusation anyway – but he did have his…quirks…quirks that in certain circumstances, might seem like flaws. For instance, he would describe himself as passionate, but due to certain unfortunate past events, others had come to describe him as an overly sensitive idiot who acted on emotion before rational thought had a chance to catch up. Venom would also describe himself as independent, but others preferred to describe him as a disobedient little shit who wouldn’t listen to the commands of his betters even if he bonded with one of those things with the eight sets of ears from that weird planet with the sentient magma. Venom had once shown promise, but as a result of these quirks and the unfortunate circumstances in which they had been expressed, his standing on his home planet was not the best. The disapproval of his peers and sorry state of his life had driven Venom to try and hide his quirkiness, but the damage was already done: he was a known loser.

So Venom had been pretty happy to get off the planet and away from most of his species; some symbiotes dreaded the possibility of being conscripted for vanguard invasion forces, but Venom would have volunteered if that had been an option. Luckily for him he was the perfect conscript: completely expendable, but also just talented enough when it came to bonding and combat to be potentially useful to his team leader. If getting away from his home planet wasn’t already motivation enough, being an invader also brought glory to those lucky enough to survive and successfully deliver a new world to feast on, and Venom was eager enough to be hailed as a hero to take the high fatality rate of the vanguard in his stride.

Venom had been to other worlds before, but not to one that wasn’t at least partially under symbiote control. He had also bonded with plenty of other hosts, but they’d all had fairly simple minds and emotions, making them easy to dominate. This was his first time on an utterly untamed world teeming with unchecked alien life, and his first time trying to bond with creatures with minds and emotions that equalled his own in complexity. Finding a host that was a comfortable enough genetic match was always hard enough, but with these maddeningly complicated humans there was also their twisted psyches to worry about. The first time he had entered a human the DNA match hadn’t been too bad – not ideal, but he could have worked with it for a while – but as soon as he had sampled their thoughts he had been thrown into a panic by the utter chaos and complexity of their minds and the despair that filled their memories. The human’s head was filled with alien traumas Venom didn’t have the context to understand, but he still felt the raw and horrible emotions associated with them, and they desperately repulsed him. In his panicked urge to escape these terrifyingly alien thoughts and feelings Venom accidentally killed what could have otherwise been a useful host, and it felt as though his failure followed him wherever he went in the universe.

After the initial shock of his first attempted bonding he was more prepared for subsequent attempts, but it still wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Their DNA wasn’t as good a match as that of his first potential host, and their minds weren’t any less horrifying. Venom tried his best to achieve symbiosis, but he could feel their bodies decaying, and it took everything not to be consumed by the darkness of their minds. The only mental bond Venom was really able to form with them was a shared sense of despair. When a man appeared and smashed the glass that contained them, Venom wasn’t sure if it his was his host’s desperation or his own that caused them to desperately wrap their hands around their liberator’s throat and subdue him while Venom slipped inside.

Slipping into his new host felt like slipping into a candlelit bath of perfectly warm, rose-scented water to a backing-track of smooth jazz; at least that was the comparison Venom would draw later after he learnt what all of those things were. Not only was his new host’s DNA a very comfortable match, but in a strange sort of way, so was his mind. This host had his own traumas, but they felt oddly familiar despite their alien nature, like they mapped onto Venom’s own and hit him in places where he’d already built up resistance. There was just something generally cosy about this host in both body and mind, and he handled like a dream; the moment Venom was inside him he had been able to navigate their escape from the humans hunting them with ease.

Once he had removed them from immediate danger, Venom let himself get truly comfortable in his new host, seeping deeper and deeper into his body, and sifting curiously through his mind. He was able to learn a little bit about humans and their planet from his previous human hosts, but it hadn’t been easy thanks to the distressing chaos of their minds. While his new host’s thoughts were definitely chaotic, his psyche somehow felt far more benign, and didn’t repulse Venom in the least, in fact it intrigued him. None of Venom’s non-human hosts had been mentally sophisticated enough to have anything but the very simplest of languages when they had any at all, but despite the novelty of the challenge it didn’t take too long for Venom to figure out his new host’s complex native tongue. Almost none of Venom’s non-human hosts had names of their own, and Venom typically hadn’t paid much notice when they did, but for the first time ever he found himself thinking of a host in terms of their own name: Eddie.

Both physically and mentally, Eddie was definitely in a better state compared to the other humans Venom had tried to bond with, but Venom didn’t have to go too deep into his mind to figure out that, compared to most of his human peers, Eddie was a mess. It didn’t matter though; Eddie was a mess, and Venom was a loser, but together they were now the most badass creature on the planet. They were like two pieces of a weapon that had finally been fit together into a deadly whole, and now that they were complete they could finally reach their killer potential. Venom revelled in the power he had over the creatures that scuttled around them, and he eventually felt his host’s confusion and fear begin to give way bit by bit to make room for the same exhilaration at their shared power. Venom felt strangely gratified that Eddie was also experiencing satisfaction at going from near the bottom of his species’ pecking order to becoming its ultimate apex predator. Eddie was not just an ideal host to use; he was an enjoyable one to experience. Oh yes, Venom would hold onto this one for a long time.

The common symbiote perception of alien worlds was that they were ugly, unordered hives of lesser creatures whose lives only had any meaning or value when they were bonded with a symbiote; otherwise they were meat for their betters to enjoy. Venom’s initial experience with human hosts, who had been so tormented by their world, a torment he had then been forced to share, had done little to improve his perception of the planet. Yet once he was bonded with Eddie there was little left the planet could do to truly hurt either of them, and it felt less like a prison and more like a playground. Venom came to realise that the alien nature of the world didn’t actually disgust him either, instead he found it exciting and exotic, but at the same time it also felt comfortingly familiar, thanks to Eddie’s perceptions bleeding into and blending with his own. Venom started to consider what would happen if his mission was a success; other symbiotes would arrive and take human hosts, so his power would longer be special, and then they would proceed to destroy everything about this world that made it both so interestingly alien and strangely homey.

The longer Venom spent bonded to Eddie, the deeper he was able to go into his mind and memories, and the more he came to understand his host. There were so many interesting thoughts, feelings, passions and fixations inside the human’s mind to investigate; Eddie was full of all sorts of compulsions and convictions that somehow resonated with Venom despite that fact he didn’t quite understand them, although the more he explored the more he learned. There was something about bonding with a host who had thoughts, fears and desires as complex as his own that was intimate in a way that went beyond the connection he felt with his more animalistic hosts. Venom had often felt some fondness for his hosts in the past, but that just didn’t compare with the feelings he rapidly felt himself developing for Eddie. The only real point of reference for those feelings came from Eddie’s own memories; he had felt things Venom had never experienced before, wonderful things, and now those emotions were seeping into Venom, and Venom was so grateful for it. 

Being forcibly separated from Eddie was an intolerable loss. Venom had always been lonely when he was without a host, but he didn’t realise how deep and desperate that loneliness was until being with Eddie had shown him what the opposite of that loneliness felt like. Being wrenched away from Eddie and expelled into the bare atmosphere felt like being forcefully yanked out of his rose-scented bath and tossed naked onto an icy tundra before being abandoned alone to die in freezing isolation. Exposed to the toxins of the planet’s atmosphere, Venom’s first desperate impulse was to find a host, but he felt a deeper desperation that told him that host had to be Eddie.

Annie worked as well as an intermediary. The thoughts and feelings Eddie associated with her had been some of the things in Eddie’s mind that had intrigued Venom the most. As soon as Venom bonded with Annie, one of the first things he did was sift through the memories and feelings she associated with Eddie; on the surface he found a lot of frustration and anger and worry, but digging deeper he found feelings much like the ones Eddie felt for her. Venom began to realise that these deeper emotions were even more familiar; they seemed a lot like the feelings Venom felt for Eddie himself. Thanks to this common ground, it wasn’t hard to convince Annie to join him in tracking Eddie down, because they both had no doubt that he would be in danger.

They therefore weren’t surprised to find Eddie on the brink of being murdered while doing everything possible to further aggravate his would-be killer, but that wasn’t a problem; together Annie and Venom made quick work of anything that wanted to threaten Eddie. Both being hosts, Annie and Eddie could never bond together into one being and know each other in the deep, intimate way Venom could know them, but as he explored the memories associated with that special feeling they had for each other, he found many instances of them trying their best to do so. They had made so many enthusiastic attempts to merge their unyielding forms together, and though they never succeeded, they certainly seemed to enjoy trying. When they had Eddie back safely in their clutches, and they felt all those feelings they shared for him flare, it seemed only right to express those feelings in the way Eddie and Annie had so often liked to do. This time however, in the moment Venom was bonded to both of them as he slipped from Annie to Eddie, they were briefly all one entity, and Venom was glad he could finally give them what they’d clearly wanted for so long, if only for a second.

As Venom gladly settled back into Eddie, he came to a realisation; Eddie belonged to Venom, as all his hosts had, but this time Venom belonged to Eddie as well. He couldn’t let Eddie’s world be consumed by the other symbiotes, and not just because Venom enjoyed being its most powerful inhabitant. He couldn’t let it happen because he knew that Eddie wouldn’t want that, and now Eddie’s happiness was his happiness. Venom knew that challenging his team leader Riot would almost definitely be suicide, but the thought of the life he and Eddie could have together if they had this world to themselves made Venom take the near certainty of death in his stride. After all, as Eddie liked to remind people, there was no such thing as can’t.

Carlton Drake had destroyed Eddie’s life, and Venom knew that back home Riot could have easily ended his, so the two of them together should have been their great destroyer. But any symbiote worth their salt knew that the value and strength of a bonding was about more than just the component parts; the relationship between those parts was what was really important. As their enemies went up in flames and their world was saved, Eddie and Venom proved that for all their individual weaknesses, they had the strongest bond. It was this bond that drove Venom to ensure Eddie survived at the expense of his own life. When Venom shielded Eddie from danger by absorbing the brunt of the explosion and heard Eddie’s despairing cry at his goodbyes, he took some sad solace in the knowledge that someone in the universe had come to care for him before he burned away.  

But just as Venom had healed Eddie’s broken body before, the little part of Venom’s essence that had managed to desperately hang on as the rest was annihilated found itself made whole again; nursed back to full strength simply by being sheltered in the body of Venom’s one true host. As Venom felt Eddie become aware of his presence he felt him cycle through the emotions of shock, then excitement, and then joy, and as time went on, Venom felt this joy evolve into the feeling he had come to understand to be love. Venom was very familiar with the emotion, since he felt it for Eddie so fiercely.

Venom would insist that what some would call his flaws were really his quirks, quirks that when paired with the right matching set of quirks were in fact strengths, because sometimes what looks like a flaw is actually a place where a missing piece is meant to attach. Venom seemed like a loser and Eddie looked like a mess, but that’s because they were two components that only truly functioned properly when they were made whole. Venom had come to Eddie’s planet looking for glory and an escape from the misery of his old life, and he had found that and more; he had found completion.