Their plans are for seven, but Anne lived with Eddie once. She's not the least bit surprised when he shows up at seven-nineteen, pink-faced and breathless, looking suspiciously like someone who nearly wiped out doing sixty-five down Filbert Street on a motorcycle.
"Sorry, sorry." He offers Anne a sheepish smile and a serviceable bottle of pinot noir. "I—sorry."
They do an awkward little dance in the doorway; Eddie leans in for a hug as Anne shuffles back to let him pass, and then she reaches for him as he starts shrugging out of his jacket. He huffs out a laugh, and so does she. He's wearing a dark button-down she gave him as a birthday gift—for a birthday they celebrated as a couple—and she has a quick flash of emotional vertigo as she takes the wine and points him to the couch.
"Sit," she says. "Luckily for you, Dan's running behind too."
Mr. Belvedere slinks out from behind the coffee table to sniff cautiously at Eddie's boots. Eddie asks, "Everything alright?"
Anne says, "Yeah," and waves her hand. "He's just caught up at the hospital."
"That happen a lot?"
She knows he doesn't mean that the way it sounds. But—coming from her ex-boyfriend—it sounds really bad. Jealous in a way she doesn't think Eddie is anymore. At least he has enough self-awareness to wince.
"Sorry. I didn't—uh." He ducks his head and scratches his jaw. "I just—how's work?"
"Really?" Anne asks, cocking an eyebrow. "Mediocre save. Six out of ten."
Eddie says, "I'm serious," and stretches his arm across the back of the couch. "I heard your office got stuck repping that crazy guy."
"Which crazy guy?"
"The one who—you know." Eddie whistles and makes a slow, diving motion with his hand. "Jumped in the bay to get away from the cops."
"Oh, him," Anne scoffs. Mr. Belvedere trills and butts his head against her shin. "We only had him for about thirty-six hours. Some Millennium Tower asshole is representing him now."
Predictably, Eddie goes on point like an Irish Setter. "Yeah?"
Anne says, "Down, boy," because he's practically quivering. She sets the wine on the coffee table and perches on the arm of the other couch. "There's no story. Just a drunk college kid with wealthy parents."
They sit there for a moment, sharing a silence that's pretty close to companionable. Anne's glad they can do this; she hadn't been sure, in those first few weeks post-Venom, if they could be friends without an alien invasion hanging over their heads. Without Eddie teetering on the edge of total organ failure. She'd worried there might be too much water under that bridge. Even after she'd forgiven him, he seemed unwilling to forgive himself.
But now, he looks good. He looks healthy. Happy.
She tells him, "I finally read your piece on Kasady."
"Did you?" He smiles wide enough to flash his crooked tooth. "What did you think?"
"That he's a nutjob."
Eddie snorts out a laugh. "You have no idea. We—" he cuts off, frowning slightly. "I couldn't wait to get away from him."
"I have to say, I was surprised he even talked to you." Mr. Belvedere hops onto the couch, and Anne strokes his head as she continues, "I mean, he never gives interviews. How did you get in to see him?"
"He asked for me."
"Yeah," Eddie says, shrugging. "It was weird. I thought he might give me something—like new info on the murders, something he could carrot the feds with. But he just kept rambling about how he was going to get out one day and we were all going to be sorry."
"Yeah, that part was... terrifying." Mr. Belvedere licks Anne's hand, then jumps down to give Eddie's boots another sniff. "Are you working on anything now?"
Eddie shrugs again. "I mean, you know how it is, freelancing. I'm always working on something."
A car horn honks on the street. Anne says, "Eddie," and swallows a sigh. It worries her, that he still doesn't have a steady source of income. It's been months. "I know you like having your freedom, but the network—"
"No," Eddie says firmly. "No fucking way. I'm not—" He huffs and rubs his hand over his face. "You know, I get why you left me. I shouldn't have gone behind your back like that. But I was right about Drake. I was right. And Jack—that bastard wouldn't even apologize. He just kept saying, 'Come on, Brock. You know how it is.' Then he offered me another two hundred a month, like that would just magically fix everything."
Anne sighs again; there's no point in arguing with him once he's dug his heels in. She gets to her feet and says, "I should check the roast."
"You need some help?"
"No." Anne shakes her head. "I just want to make sure it hasn't burned."
Her phone buzzes as she walks into the kitchen—Dan, telling her that he'll be up as soon as he finds a place to park. She sets her phone on the counter and switches on the oven light. The roast looks good, but it probably needs another five minutes. She'll just—
"We shouldn't be here."
Anne freezes. That's—no. No.
"Stop it, V. She's going to hear you."
Anne creeps over to the kitchen door and peeks into the living room. Venom is just a human-sized head, tethered out of Eddie's shoulder and chest. A few shiny-black tendrils are climbing his neck and throat. Anne shouldn't be surprised; he was too eager to leave the hospital after the rocket explosion, too jumpy that time she asked if he missed having Venom around. But seeing the symbiote again, all teeth and dripping tongue, that's—she isn't—
"Eddie," Venom says again. "We should go."
"What's gotten into you, huh? I thought you liked Anne."
Venom leans closer to Eddie and makes a rough, angry noise. "You like Anne."
"Oh, come on. That's what this is about?" Eddie touches Venom's seething web of a neck, and tendrils immediately curl around his fingers and hand. "Anne and I were together a long time. Of course I still care about her. But not like that." He slides his hand down one pulsing, wrist-thick tentacle. "I've got everything that I want."
And that—that sounds like—no. Anne's crazy to even think it. But Eddie is smiling at Venom—smiling at Venom just like he used to smile at her.
Venom hums and flicks Eddie's lips with the tip of his tongue. "You're mine, Eddie."
Eddie says, "I am," and holds up his other hand. Venom forms one to match and threads their fingers together. "Will you settle down now?"
"No. The other one is coming."
"Who?" Eddie asks. "Dan?"
"Dan," Venom agrees sourly. "He hurt us."
"He didn't mean it, sweetheart. You know that."
A tentacle coils possessively around Eddie's shoulders. "Eddie. Don't want to be separated."
"That's not going to happen. I wouldn't let it happen."
"We wouldn't let that happen. Dan—"
"Doesn't even know you're alive," Eddie insists. "Even if he did—even if he tried something—it's not going to happen." He squeezes Venom's hand. "I'd jump out the window if I had to."
"You're afraid of heights."
"You'd catch me."
Eddie smiles again, and it's so wide and open and bright that it makes Anne's chest ache. She hasn't seen him like this since before they split up. She watches as he strokes another bit of Venom's neck, as he leans up and presses a kiss to the corner of its razor-sharp mouth. Venom rumbles out a pleased sound and loops a tentacle around his waist.
Eventually, Eddie taps his chest and says, "Come on, V. Get back in me before Anne sees you."
Anne takes a breath. Then she walks into the living room and says, "She already did."
"Anne," Eddie yelps. "Anne, I—" he cuts off as Venom swivels toward her and narrows its eyes. He mutters, "Don't say that," then turns back to Anne and tries again. "Anne. I should've told you. But you—I—"
Anne says, "Eddie, stop," and holds up her hands. She staunchly ignores the way Venom is running its tongue over its teeth. "I just—are you happy?"
"We are happy."
"I'm asking him."
Eddie's face works through about a half-dozen expressions before settling on something that's a little defensive and a lot determined. He squares his shoulders and says, "Yeah, I am. I really am." A bright flush starts spreading across his cheeks. "I—I have a home again."
It's a little weird, Anne isn't going to lie. But she figures it isn't her opinion that matters. Shrugging, she says, "Hey, if you're happy, I'm happy."
Before Anne can say anything, the door swings open. Dan walks in carrying a bouquet of flowers and another bottle of wine. He's still wearing his lab coat. When he sees Venom, he stops dead and sputters out a noise.
"I—I, um." He looks at Anne. "Anne?"
Anne says, "Hi, honey," and closes the door behind him. She also grabs the wine before he has a chance to drop it. "Eddie was just telling me that he and Venom are—" Boyfriends? Partners? Alien husbands? "—an item."
"Oh," Dan says faintly. "I guess we should've bought a second roast."