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Eddie wakes in his dark and dingy apartment to the sound of his front door lock clicking open. After everything he’s been through in the last two weeks his mind and body are stuck on high alert, and so at the barest of sounds he is up and out of bed, bat in hand.

The front door opens, creaky despite being replaced by the apartment complex. There’s a man shadowed by the light in the hallway, slender but still of Eddie’s height.

Eddie’s first impression, as the man stands there, is that he’s homeless or fucked up. He hasn’t attacked, doesn’t appear to have a weapon, and isn’t speaking.

“Hey buddy, this ain’t your apartment,” Eddie says.

The man says nothing, does nothing.

Eddie shuffles forward slowly trying to reach the light switch on his wall, bat still tight in hand. He doesn’t want to brain a guy just for breaking in if he doesn’t have to. This apartment has seen enough violence for its lifetime, and it will be significantly more trouble without V—

He shoves that thought away. It’s still a raw, blistering wound that he’s lost too many nights to picking at.

“Do you need some help? I can call somebody or something.” Eddie’s to the light now and flicks it on.

The man is indeed homeless, Eddie has seen enough to know the look. He’s threadbare, his skin tight over his underfed frame. His eyes are bloodshot but flat, staring right at Eddie.

The man doesn’t speak. Instead he shambles one foot, two feet into the apartment, and then collapses.

Eddie doesn’t think, he just rushes over and drops the bat.

He reaches to turn the man over and check his pulse except— except the moment he touches the man, the second they connect, he knows. This isn’t a man, it’s a body.

Eddddddieeeeee

The gravel voice is so soft, so small, that it should be a crime. Eddie’s heart jumps, his whole body going into overdrive at the impossible, impossible fantasy he’s only allowed himself to think in the darkest of nights.

“Venom?”

The smallest bit of blackness seeps out of the man and into Eddie’s shaking hands. It’s Venom, warm and soft and tiny but god.

“Hey, hey, oh god, you’re okay. I thought— I—” Eddie can’t get his mouth or brain to cooperate, he’s a jumbled mess of under slept nerves and euphoria. His brain is trying and failing to decide if this is reality or he’s just completely slipped into a mental break.

Tired. Rest. Hungry.

Eddie cups the small thing and gets up from his crouch, body on auto pilot. “Yes, of course. Rest, I’ve got you. Go in. I’ll take care of everything.” The symbiote does then, seeping down into Eddie’s skin until he’s disappeared. The feeling of Venom inside him is smaller, but still familiar as it settles down somewhere inside his stomach. He couldn’t explain to anyone what it feels like other than right.

He almost sobs.

Instead Eddie goes about righting the situation. It’s the only thing he can think to do. Venom coming back to him is too huge, too unreal to process and he’s not yet ready to fall to pieces.

First, he needs to take care of them. He owes his Other some care at least.

The homeless man in the doorway is dead. It’s unfortunate but probably unavoidable considering what poor condition the man seemed to be in. Eddie grabs his arms and pulls him the rest of the way into the apartment so he can shut the door. The neighbor directly across from him moved a while ago, but he hardly needs anyone else in the building in on his business.

He’ll need to take care of that body soon, before the darkest hours of the night are over, but first Eddie thinks some food is in order. Venom is too small to be as ravenous as the first time, but still he can feel the all-encompassing hunger. Whatever hosts he’s been in since the rocket, they haven’t been doing him any kindnesses.

Door relocked, body shoved near the far wall and covered with his shower curtain, Eddie goes to the refrigerator.

There isn’t much. The last two weeks have consisted of eating just enough to get through the day, and the contents of his refrigerator reflect that. There’s leftover pizza, some old Chinese, and half a dozen eggs. In the pantry he still has rice and pasta.

Eddie makes everything and diligently eats one thing after another until his apartment is literally without edible food. He wouldn’t be able to fit it all if it were just him, so he knows Venom is helping himself from the inside.

Eddie smiles and finishes off a glass of water to wash away the foul taste of stale pork fried rice. “I know it’s not fresh meat, but I wasn’t expecting us.”

Venom makes a soft noise in his head that Eddie can feel is gratitude.

He wants then desperately to crawl into bed with his Other and rest off all the stress of the last two weeks. Venom isn’t projecting very loudly right now but Eddie can feel how hard the last weeks were just as he can feel his own worn-down body.

But he doesn’t know how long a dead body will keep and he can’t risk the smell in his apartment. Plus he knows when he finally does get into bed and isn’t going to want to get out for days. All he wants, now that he has his other half back, is to block out the world. They owe each other time, the time they didn’t get with all the Life Foundation mess.

Clean-up though.

Eddie gets his phone out of the bed and checks the time: 3:21 A.M. A fine a time as any.

He pockets his phone and wallet and then goes back to the body. He considers taking the body out wrapped in the shower curtain, but that might be more suspicious than anything. The man didn’t die of any external causes, and likely anyone who finds the body won’t look too closely. Eddie would bet the man was very ill even before a symbiote began chewing on his insides. He decides just to carry the man out.

It’s hard work without Venom’s strength, but he manages the fireman’s carry and lets himself out of his apartment. The hallway is quiet, vacant at this time of night, so Eddie moves quickly.

He takes the stairwell down and out the backdoor into the alley. There are no cameras and half the lights don’t work because of the shitty area he lives in.

Carefully Eddie makes his way down the alley, into another, and around another building with a hole in its gate. There’s two very old rusted cars there that look like they haven’t moved in ages. Eddie sets the body down with pant of exertion.

There’s no time for sentiment here, so Eddie turns around and leaves. He keeps his head low, looks around for any bystanders, but the windows are all dark and the streets are clear.

When he’s far enough away Eddie exits the alleys and turns toward the minimart he knows is open 24/7.

He tries to ask Venom if there’s anything he wants, but his Other is silent, just a weight in his stomach. This maybe would have made Eddie feel sad once, but he’s still just so glad that Venom is alive.

He loads his basket up with everything fatty and high carb that he can find before going to the register. He doesn’t even care when the total is more than he’s spent on food in the last week. He takes the bags loaded up on each arm back to his apartment.

When he gets there it’s still not time for bed because he’s sweaty and smelly from the work. He puts the food away quickly, taking the candy bars and dropping them onto the bed before he goes to the shower.

He doesn’t have the patience to put the shower curtain back, so he takes a brief but blistering shower while water gets everywhere. He couldn’t care less.

Finally clean Eddie doesn’t bother to dress, just buffs himself dry. He turns off the overhead light to the bedroom, leaving just the dim lamp on while he falls into bed.

Has there ever been a better moment in Eddie’s whole life?

Eddie slides down into the bed. The sheets are musty, in need of wash, the air in the apartment is a little too cold, but he can feel the little bundle of Venom in the bottom of his stomach.

It’s perfect.

“Feeling better?” He rubs down his torso as if caressing Venom.

Eddddddddieeeeee.

It comes crooning, like a kitten’s weak purr from deep inside him. And Eddie’s so twisted, so strung up for so long now that the sound just cracks him right open. Tears spring to his eyes and the sob just tears itself out of him.

He curls around his torso, protective, covetous. “Vee, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know. I would have stayed looking for you, I didn’t—” Because he can feel the weight of those two weeks, how hard his Other has worked to get back to him. He can feel the coldness, the hunger, the sadness of not knowing if Eddie would take him back.

“I do, I do want you. I’ve thought of nothing else. I thought you were gone.”

Not gone. Tired. Small.  

“I know,” Eddie wraps his arms around himself, smearing tears and heaving breaths into the pillows. “I know darling, and I’m so glad.”

Eddie.

“I’ve got you now. Nothing will take you away again, okay?”

Mine?

And Eddie can’t help the laugh that gets out of his mouth. He remembers them after their chase around the city. Remembers Venom huge and terrifying, staking his claim on Eddie with such a bold declaration. It had been such a rush of adrenaline at the time, but now the memory has been overwritten with fondness, with affection. It simmers a warmth in him that he’s never had before. No one’s ever been so forward, so sure of their place with him. He finds now how much he likes it.

“Yes. Yours. And you’re mine.”

Yes.

“Perfect. Now rest, we need it.”

Venom makes another noise and settles down deeper. Eddie reaches over for the lamp and then spends a minute or so wrapping himself up in a bundle with the comforter. The warmth begins to accumulate in their little cocoon and Eddie sighs. He feels full and warm and secure. Maybe for the first time ever he feels like everything is going exactly right.

Once that idea would have terrified him, the potential of so much loss.

Right now though, with Venom tucked safely inside him Eddie can’t find it in himself to worry. The worst has already come and gone. He’s lived the last two weeks in the worst. This is their second chance.

He couldn’t even bare to think it, but now its come right to his door.

Eddie smears the tear out of his eyes. He can’t think of any time in his whole life he’s ever cried from being so happy.

 In his chest he feels the faintest pulse from Venom, it too feels like happy.

 

***

 

The only thing Eddie knows when he wakes up is that it has been morning for quite some time. The sun has slid all the way across the floor and into his bed which means it’s almost noon. He hasn’t slept so late in ages. It’s nice.

And then his brain kicks on and he remembers.

“Venom?” He whispers this to the room, swallowing through the swelling fear that all of last night was just a dream. A cruel fantasy.

Eddie? Why afraid?

His heart stutters, he clutches at his chest. “I thought it was a dream, last night. I was afraid you weren’t here.”

Oh. Idiot.

Eddie laughs, he can feel the affection beneath it and he’s never been so happy to be insulted. “Yes, your idiot though.”

Ours.

And then Venom is slinking out of Eddie’s chest and onto the pillow beside him. It’s not a full body manifestation, just a little serpent-like head with glowing white eyes. The black tendrils connect them right at Eddie’s chest.

“Hey there.” He reaches out and touches the smooth side of Venom’s head, caressing him like one would a cat.

Eddie. Morning. A tongue comes out to lick at Eddie’s fingers which he gratefully offers first one and then the other. It’s intimate, the way Venom makes sure to lick each of his fingertips.

“Morning. How’re you feeling?”

Venom, finished licking at his skin, starts butting his head against Eddie’s palm. Eddie uses both hands this time and runs his short nails over the blackness. He used to do this with Anne’s head when she laid it in his lap during a movie. Venom reacts much the same way she did by leaning into it and softening. Better. Hungry, Eddie.

His puddle of goo almost melts right into the pillow as Eddie gives him a good scratching. “Well you’re in luck dear, because I grabbed some of your favorites at the store last night.” Then Eddie takes his hands back to shuffle around in the bed.

Venom makes a sound like a huff, and Eddie can feel through their connection his discontent that the petting has stopped.

“Just a sec,” Eddie says, finding the half a dozen candy bars he’d tossed into the bedding last night. Venom must read this too because pleasure and affection explodes between them, hot and syrupy.

Eddie. Eddie. Love Eddie, brought us chocolate!

The joy is so complete and overwhelming. Eddie laughs and turns back to settle down onto his warm spot on the bed. Between them he dumps the goods. Venom immediately tries to swallow one, wrapper and all.

“Hold on, hold on let me unwrap them!”

They are fine. Hungry, Eddie!

He laughs. “I’m sure it is, but you don’t need to be digesting anything non-food while you’re healing, let me just—” He’s quick with the first wrapper so as not to make his Other wait. “Here.”

Venom’s taken back his less-goopy form, and chomps at the offered candy bar. He’s missed Eddie’s fingers by millimeters with those very sharp teeth, but Eddie doesn’t feel worried. He knows now that Venom won’t hurt him, that Venom wants him, and that any mistakes with teeth or tentacles can be easily repaired. Eddie pulls off the rest of the wrapper and holds the end of the candy bar.

With this one Venom is more careful, using his tongue to wrap around and lick off the melted chocolate from Eddie’s fingers. Another!

They go through all the chocolate like this. Venom likes the idea of being hand-fed, so he lets Eddie unwrap each and offer them. Every time Venom makes sure to lick his hands clean.

Every time sends a swirl of heat through Eddie’s body. It’s what he wants, this is where he wants to be, but he isn’t sure what it all means. He isn’t sure what he wants it to mean.

Eddie best host. Partner. Perfect for us.  

They are perfect. He can feel that now in a way he didn’t have time to appreciate before. Maybe they weren’t as strong as Riot, but thinking back on how it felt when they were all mashed together…

Riot and Drake were anger, greed, a madness rolled up and fighting for dominance.

Venom always feels covetous, hungry, but never destructive like that. If he thinks of the way they feel right here and now, they feel cozy, balanced. Venom is curious, is excitable about this new world and all the things he does not yet know, but it’s potential, not disaster. Like the first blossom of love, all that unfurled potential just waiting for the sun.

Eddie feels giddy. He hasn’t felt giddy in years, since the first few dates with Anne.

It feels as though, with Venom, the feeling could just go on forever.

We will. You are mine. Forever.

Venom rubs his face against Eddie’s and Eddie has to roll into the pillow to hide the blush that swamps him. “You can’t just say things like that,” he muffles into the pillow.

Why not? You were thinking it.

“That’s different.”

How? Whether you speak inside or outside it is not different to us.

Eddie gets that, he does. They’d done a whole crash course on sharing every thought and feeling while evading capture and saving the world. But still. He wants nothing else but to lie here in bed with Venom, but it’s hard to look at what that means. Hard to make a declaration as bold as the one Venom did that first night.

Easy.

Eddie flops over onto his back to get fresh air. Venom settles down on his chest, more goop than shape, but he doesn’t seep down into Eddie just yet. Eddie likes it, the weight and physicality of him being there. “For you. Humans are different.”

Pussies.

“Hey!” he gives Venom a stern glare even though he can feel the symbiotes amusement at riling him. “It’s just not as clear. Humans… they don’t do this, they don’t share bodies—”

Venom cuts into his mental space with a few lewd memories of Eddie sharing bodies. Eddie flushes down to his toes and gives it all a huge mental shove away. “Not what I meant! You know what I meant!”

There’s snickering of the alien sort.

“You’re the worst.”

Best.

“Jerk.”

Loser.

“Parasite.”

Eddieeeeee!

Now it’s Eddie’s turn to laugh. “Sensitive.”

Mean. Apologize!

“No,” he says teasingly.

Eddieeeeeee!

The face is now in front of him again, huge fangs and glossy eyes, but somehow Eddie can tell his Other is pouting. It’s paired with a feeling of intensely fake sadness that makes Eddie almost roll his eyes. “Oh fine you big baby, I’m sorry. You know I didn’t mean it.”

Good. Love us, Eddie?

“Yeah, I do.” It catches him off guard how easily it comes out. Maybe he was just overthinking it. Making it more complicated than it needed to be. He doesn’t need all the answers to know that the last two weeks were of mourning, that the intensity of his reaction last night had a lot more to do with his heart than anything else.

Venom isn’t asking him for all the answers, right now he’s only really asking for some chocolate and an affirmation that he too is where he is wanted.

“Come here,” Eddie says, tugging the symbiotic back to his chest. “I missed you, and I don’t think I ever want to be without you again. Maybe that’s crazy, but it feels right, doesn’t it?”

The blackness now does sink into his skin, curls up around his heart. Right. Perfect. We are perfect Eddie.

Eddie pulls the comforter back up and settles down deeper into his bed. The sun has crossed onto the pillow now, but he finds he doesn’t care. There’s nothing to do today but this.

“Do you need anything else?” Eddie knows the answer, his Other isn’t exactly shy about making sure his needs are met. Still, he wants to be sure.

No Eddie. Just want to rest with you. This is good.

“It is good,” he says, resting his hand over his heart. He can feel Venom pulsing there right alongside his heartbeat. His chest is near full to breaking with affection, with warm possibility.

With love.