Eddie stared at the ceiling, with its long trails of water damage that were visible even in the half-light. He couldn’t sleep. His apartment never got properly dark. Then, upstairs, people were yelling at each other. Outside was the usual cacophony: cars, drunken yelling, a cat screeching. The shatter of broken glass. Was his insomnia the result of recent events too absurd to describe, or was his symbiote keeping him awake? Either way, he could really go for a straight eight hours. Or even six would do.
Next door, a gentle, rhythmic bumping noise was joined by the murmur of voices. First one, and then another. Great. His neighbours were fucking. And here was Eddie, staring at the ceiling like an idiot. It was officially six months since he’d exploded his career, his relationship, and any hope of a normal life. Six months and two days since he’d gotten any action from someone who wasn’t himself. Not that he was counting. It would be really sad to count, as if his whole life were defined by Anne’s presence or absence. Eddie could download Tinder any time he wanted. He had options. He was choosing not to exercise those options.
Fine, he was lonely.
‘Hey,’ he said softly into the room. ‘You up?’
‘Do you even sleep?’
I enter a rest period.
‘Ever get insomnia?’
When you do. Venom sounded accusatory.
‘Sorry, man. I was just thinking about—’
Anne. I know.
‘I wasn’t thinking about her. I was thinking about, you know… something else.’
‘Not looking to reproduce,’ Eddie mumbled.
You should spread your genetic material, Venom advised. I myself have reproduced many times.
‘Too much information,’ said Eddie. ‘How do you even fuck, anyway?’
Instead of replying, Venom plastered a series of graphic images across the inside of Eddie’s skull; a montage of writhing, dividing, slimy flesh, coming together and merging like putty, and then dividing again, leaving small, dark caterpillars behind. He watched, fascinated.
‘You do that for fun?’
It is a biological imperative. For survival.
‘No kidding.’ He paused, wondering if Venom could read his mind. ‘Can you read my mind?’ he asked.
No, Venom said. He sounded disappointed. I can sense your emotions.
‘If I get hurt, can you feel that?’
I would never let you get hurt, Eddie. We’re friends. Venom drew out the word friends with unnerving emphasis.
‘Say I burn myself. Or stub my toe.’
You are clumsy, agreed Venom.
‘I asked can you feel it, not am I dumb enough to do it,’ Eddie said.
I can feel it. Very small, like a thought in the back of my mind.
‘Just like I feel you,’ Eddie said quietly. The thought that had been germinating suddenly came to fruition. ‘Hey, Venom...’
Yeeeees? Eddie could hear the toothy grin.
‘You know that means I’m never gonna get laid ever again without you listening in?’
No need to be shy, Eddie, said Venom. We’re friends. Reproduction is perfectly normal.
‘It’s not about reproduction,’ said Eddie, trying to explain. ‘Sex is private.’ Venom made a sound, elicited a feeling in Eddie, that was something very like a shrug.
Are you shy?
‘I’m not shy. I’m thirty-six years old. I’m just, you know, can we figure out some kind of privacy arrangement?’
Do you even understand how this works?
‘Great,’ said Eddie, miserably. ‘I can’t even jerk off without an audience.’
You can’t what?
‘It’s, uh, practice. For reproduction.’
You need to practice? Venom laughed his sonorous, resonant laugh. Eddie… you are a loser.
‘Fine!’ Eddie said, much too loudly. ‘It’s not practice, okay. It’s just a thing humans like to do. Alone.’ He put emphasis on the last word.
Venom didn’t reply. When he was quiet, and when he wasn’t shooting giant fucking tentacles out of Eddie’s body, Eddie couldn’t much feel his presence. Occasionally there was a flicker of something: of anger, of hunger. Right now there was nothing. So maybe Eddie had pissed him off. Or—and this was a thought that Eddie had not had before—perhaps he had hurt Venom’s feelings. He lay there, staring at the ceiling and listening to the couple banging next door. She was making a lot of noise. The blood came up his neck and face a little. And then a little more, now he knew that Venom would be able to feel it too.
Eddie swallowed. He was feeling too warm. He always felt too warm these days, metabolism running on overdrive to keep both him and Venom alive. Twisting awkwardly, he pulled his sweaty t-shirt off and let it fall to the floor. The air in his apartment was humid and very still. A takeout menu made a makeshift fan, and he wafted some air across his face and chest. There was a low sound from the apartment over, and someone’s hand slapped against the wall. Next door, Eddie thought, some lucky fuck was balls deep, and here he was worrying about offending his alien parasite.
He was half-hard, for the first time since Venom’s presence had consumed his life and his waking thoughts. They had reached an accord now. Eddie’s body, while not entirely his own, was stable. He was no longer persona non grata at the network. He could film and write with Venom riding along. And the Brock Report was going to be airing again next week. Apparently Eddie’s dick really liked the idea of financial stability. Or something. He slid an idle hand under the waistband of his sweatpants.
His cock jumped when he touched it. God, this was going to be quick. Eddie took a long breath in through his nose, held it, and then released it through his mouth, just like in the meditation CD. He didn’t feel like his chakras were centered, or whatever, but at least he wasn’t going to shoot off like a teenager. He gripped his cock, squeezed it gently.
Then he felt it; Venom rippled somewhere deep in Eddie’s amygdala. Eddie shivered in response. Suddenly the idea of Venom watching and listening in seemed exciting. Intimate, but dangerous. Like when he and Anne fucked in the restroom at the dive bar on 18th, Eddie convincing her to go there with him and then to sneak off, leaving a twenty on the bar. The suggestion of being overheard had excited him. The risk of being caught, even more.
‘Can you feel that?’ he asked, his voice rough.
Yes, said Venom, very low and slow. Eddie made a small sound in the back of his throat. His grip tightened on his cock.
‘Oh my god.’
Eddie, Venom said.
‘Yeah?’ Eddie was still, but his whole body was humming with electricity.
Do it again.
The direct order short circuited his brain, as they always did. He squeezed his cock, up near the head. Venom was a coiling mass of intensity, lodged under his skull down by the back of his neck. His hackles rose. Slowly, very slowly, he stroked himself. Three times, four, holding his breath. Soon he wasn’t so much jerking off as fucking his own hand, all the muscles in his ass and thighs and calves tensing and flexing. He was light-headed. Constricted by his pants, he shoved them down past his knees. From next door, he heard a single, sharp slap against skin, and the woman’s voice peaked in a squeal. He missed it, that sudden, bright burst of pain that you could never quite predict. He bit down hard on the inside of his cheek, but it wasn’t the same.
Venom’s physical mass shifted Eddie’s centre of gravity on the bed. He was surfacing, becoming flesh. A single, thin tendril slid out of Eddie’s inner thigh and ran its tip over his knuckles. It brushed up the underside of his cock, making him twitch. Barely making contact, it tickled back down his cock and then down lower, down all the way to his ass.
‘Whoa,’ said Eddie, alarmed.
You like this. Venom was not asking a question.
‘Fucking ask me first.’ Eddie’s throat was very dry.
Why? You like it. The tiny thread of Venom played over his asshole, exploring. Eddie’s cock ached and so did his jaw from holding it tight. He tried to relax his jaw muscles. This makes you feel good, Venom said.
‘Shut up,’ Eddie whispered. He’d given up being fucked in the ass long before he met Anne. Really, as soon as the Brock Report got any traction. It was never a good look to get caught with a dude when you were investigating powerful people, even in San Francisco. Deep down, he knew that was a little bit of a lie.
Venom always had a strange wetness to him; a sort of slipperiness that somehow didn’t linger. So when he slid a thin part of himself into Eddie’s ass, pressing gently but firmly through the resistance, it went in very easily. Eddie opened his mouth in a soundless whimper. He didn’t want to make a noise about it. Except it didn’t matter, because Venom could feel how much he wanted it. The apartment was warm, so warm, and a tinnitus-like rushing blocked all of the street noise. It was as though he was inside Venom, encased in his slick, elastic flesh. But Venom was inside him. They waited like that for a moment, Eddie’s hand frozen, neither of them moving. And then, almost imperceptibly at first, Venom began to thicken.
‘Wait,’ Eddie begged.
You should stop fighting the things you want to do, said Venom. Was it Eddie’s imagination, or was Venom’s voice in his head less steady than usual.
‘It’s been a long time,’ he managed. ‘Since I did this.’
‘Don’t know,’ he lied.
Liar. The end of Venom’s tendril—it’s a tentacle, Eddie thought—dragged itself over Eddie’s insides, and he closed his eyes and tried to form a sentence.
‘Made things complicated,’ he confessed. ‘And I was ashamed. And confused. I’m a fuck-up, okay?’
If anyone laughs, I will eat their head, Venom said. A hysterical laugh bubbled up out of Eddie. Here he was, pants around his ankles, jerking it while an alien symbiote tentacle-fucked him. And yet, he was still hard. Experimentally, he clenched down on Venom. Venom responded perversely, growing a little more.
Eddie started moving again. Up into his hand, his ass tightening around Venom. Back down, opening himself up on Venom’s strange length. His left foot skidded along the sheet, throwing him off rhythm. Venom seeped up his shin and spilled over, pinning his leg down. Eddie moaned low in his throat. The woman in the next apartment came noisily, or at least pretended she did. A man’s voice rose with hers.
Do you sound like that? Venom asked. He trickled from Eddie’s clavicle and up his chin, a little frond touching Eddie’s mouth. Eddie licked his lip, and with it licked the frond. Oh, said Venom strangely, and came into Eddie’s mouth and onto his tongue.
Eddie remembered how it had been to kiss Venom in the forest, and knew as the finely-pointed tentacle explored his mouth that it had been Venom, and not Ann. His tongue rose to meet Venom. Venom tasted like salt and like nothing; he was blood-hot but no warmer than Eddie. With his left hand holding on to the edge of the mattress and Venom pinning down his left leg, Eddie jacked himself off harder.
‘I want more,’ he mumbled around Venom. ‘I want it, I want—’
A gentle pressure on his throat. Venom banded around his throat, imitating what he could not yet know was Eddie’s habit of holding his breath and leaning into the lack of oxygen. The tentacle in his mouth grew; Eddie sucked at it desperately, tongue working as though he were sucking a cock. And all the while, Venom, slowly stretching Eddie’s asshole, rippling against it and against his prostate. There was no pain. He couldn’t be hurt while Venom was in him, and Venom wouldn’t hurt him anyway. There was only a delicious fullness that swelled and ebbed by turns.
His cock was leaking over his index finger. At any minute he could make just the right twist of his hand and he would come. But he kept holding back a little, edging himself. There could be more. Or he could suspend himself like this, pinned down and filled. Every muscle in his body was tensed; head thrown back, right leg levering himself up and down on Venom’s tentacle. From a long way off, Eddie heard himself making little high noises like the girl through the wall, ah, ah, muffled by Venom in his mouth. Venom had shaped himself like a cock there, perhaps even like Eddie’s own cock, that was somehow Venom’s too. Pure muscle memory made Eddie give it the best fucking blow job a tentacle had ever had. Eddie might be the best fucking tentacle sucker in the world, he thought deliriously. Fuck you, Carlton Drake. This is how we do it.
Eddie. Eddie whimpered, long and shivering. He still wanted more.
‘Mm.’ He pulled off Venom’s cock-tendril.
Do you want me to hurt you?
‘Hurt me,’ repeated Eddie, eyes closed. There was sweat in them. He felt fevered. His right hand was cramping and he was close, so close. He wanted what the woman on the other side of the wall had gotten. Venom knew it. Venom would have felt the bone-deep response from Eddie when he heard.
Venom slapped him across the face, once, hard, and Eddie dissolved from the inside out. He came grinding into the palm of his hand, his back arching so hard that it felt like a spasm. Between the inexplicable membrane that barely separated him and the symbiote came Venom’s answering wash of joy. It amplified Eddie’s. His face stung; he was flying. Next door they could hear him. Venom could hear him. He was straining against Venom's inexorable pressure on his throat, on his leg. He couldn't breathe. He didn't want to breathe. His voice cracked in a moan and then it was over. He was wet with sweat and his own come, and Venom was warm and same-different against his skin. Venom diminished again, sliding out of Eddie’s ass and leaving a good ache behind him. Eddie reached down with his fingers. They slid in easily. Venom had been monstrously large in him. Before it had been anonymous men in dive bars and alleys, in a hurry of burning friction and clumsy handjobs.
Venom’s tendrils dissolved back inside Eddie and he shuddered out a long breath, feeling Venom retracting through his skin in a tingling rush. He had never noticed that it felt good before. Pushing the pillow off onto the floor and kicking off his sweatpants, Eddie lay in his meditation pose on the damp sheets. His palms fell open, upwards. Nothing was the same any more, which usually meant bad things for Eddie. He supposed now that he could get whatever he wanted in the ass-fucking department. So that was a win. He let the room stop spinning and sucked in breaths until he wasn't panting any more. Venom was a quiet, satisfied ball of emotion way back in his skull. He was unbearably thirsty, so he swung his shaky legs off the edge of the bed and wobbled to his feet.
I have questions, Venom said.
'Me too,' Eddie muttered. 'Me fucking too.' He trembled across the room, feet leaving sweat marks on the floor.
Can we do that whenever we want? Venom enquired, as Eddie staggered to the sink and drank from the tap in enormous gulps that spilled down his chest.
‘Whenever we want,’ Eddie said. And finally, he could sleep.