The spaceship was like a miracle. The mathematicians got to spend a few happy hours bickering over the odds of it finding them, but no one really cared about their results. All that mattered was that, instead of crashing into a planet that may or may not have intelligent life and potentially destroying half their population in the process, they could hijack the ship.
Luckily, the ship had spotted them as well, and began a trajectory course—it saved them trying to steer their meteor.
Caution was voted on—unless the pilots of the ships made it difficult, they’d try to send in a small team to make sure the planet and the species was sufficient. There was a good chance that whoever went wouldn’t come back. Riot was chosen to lead them, and Riot picked the other three.
There wasn’t really a chance that he’d leave Venom behind, though Venom had kind of hoped he would.
Panic was dead.
He had half-felt, half heard her die hours ago; a long, painful ten minutes of helpless suffocation followed by blissful silence.
He had never cared one way or the other for Panic, but with her loss came a flood of anxiety, making his current host moan and pull herself into an even tighter ball. She was a poor host. Her emotions tasted acidic, and her mind carried a bitter fragility to it, like a mirror someone had tried and failed to paste back together. She could never be a part of a “we”, and wasn’t good for anything but food, yet Venom didn’t dare gobble her up from the inside, like he had with his first handful of human hosts.
He, Panic and Blight had made the mistake of staying in their hosts once their hunger had finally abated. Now the stupid humans had left them alone for the long hours of the night, facing slow starvation or suffocation. Panic had given into the hunger. Maybe she had tried to keep it to a few discreet nibbles, like Venom had, but her hunger had consumed her, and when her host died she had been forced to leave—leave into a room with no host to replace the dead one.
Fuck knew where Riot was, or even if he was still alive. “He’s alive,” Venom thought. He wasn’t lucky enough for Riot to be dead… not that he wanted him to be. It was a complicated emotion.
Now it was just Venom and Blight. He could feel Blight a short distance away, restless and anxious, but not hungry. Blight would be alright—this was the first Host he had tried to keep, and he had eaten far more organ meat then Venom over the last few days. But Venom could already feel the hunger gnawing at him.
Hungry he hissed in his host’s head. It did nothing but make her shudder.
Someone new came into his range—their emotions were restrained and hard to read, probably a guard. This new someone got closer and closer, until he stood outside of Venom’s room. “Not a guard,” Venom realized after a moment, interest piqued. This was someone new.
The woman carrying him wasn’t a good enough match for Venom to control her easily, but he gave her the desire to look up, and she obliged.
She stared for a moment, then a sudden surge of blinding hope flared to life inside of her. “Eddie!” She screamed in her head, the word heralding a flood of memories.
Venom couldn’t normally read thoughts, just feelings, and the severity of his host’s stunned him for a moment. He saw newspapers, and crinkled dollars bills, felt a surge of affection, the rare feeling of being treated like a real person in a world where you were little more than garbage to everyone else. His host lurched to the glass door and hammered on it, staring out at the stranger’s shocked face.
Not a stranger, Eddie—Eddie would save them, Eddie would let them out.
Venom added his desperation to his host’s—Marie, Eddie called her. Together, they hammered and screamed at the glass, begging and pleading. And Eddie, dear Eddie, found a fire extinguisher and broke them out.
Now Venom took control, ruing Marie’s arms in the process. He wrapped their hands around Eddie’s throat and the three of them fell to the ground. Venom flowed out of Marie, quickly gobbling up as many of her organs as he could on the way out.
Then he was inside Eddie. “Perfect,” he thought, surprised. Eddie was… perfect. Comfortable, with perfectly alkaline thoughts and feelings, the right amount of chemicals in his blood, and a flexible, fluid sort of mind. This wasn’t just something to escape in, this was a match. Which was good, because Eddie would need Venom’s reflexes to escape.
Alarms were blaring, and a very confused and frightened Eddie climbed to his feet. He, no, they ran.
Everything was a bit of a blur before the hospital. Venom had been hungry, and focusing on not killing Eddie, but rather integrating more into his system. That machine—the MRI—that had been awful, but afterwards Eddie had gotten Chinese food and that had been alright. Dead, but it tasted good. Just before the hospital Venom had finally succumbed to temptation and consumed a little bit of Eddie’s organs. Just enough to keep him alert—nothing he couldn’t fix. Then of course they’d been interrupted, but at least Venom got to eat properly.
And now here they were, looking out over the water at the city lights, Venom enjoying the sweet, lingering taste of Eddie’s adrenaline and Eddie trying to wrap his mind around his new status as a mobile home. Eddie needed a minute. That was fine; Venom needed a minute too, now that he was finally fully integrated.
Whoever would have guessed that it would be Venom to escape—Venom to salvage Riot’s failed mission? “Bet you didn’t count on that, fucker,” Venom thought smugly. “If you’re even still alive you’re going to have me to thank.” The thought wasn’t as satisfying if it would be.
Riot was… complicated. Venom had never been as powerful as him, and Riot had enjoyed that about their relationship. Even if it meant the successful takeover of earth, Riot might not be happy about Venom coming out on top for a change.
And what a big change it was. Venom thought back over the chase with a satisfied ripple. He was like a god here, and to think the only way he’d had any status back home was by scuttling along in Riot’s shadow. And the face of that bald little fuck when he had formed over Eddie’s body! Venom hadn’t gotten a chance to crack open his skull and lick the chemicals from his brain before swallowing him whole, but he’d get him soon. The power he had here was intoxicating. It would be almost a pity when the others arrived, and he wouldn’t be the only god on the planet.
Venom wasn’t like Riot, he wasn’t used to power. Venom was more like Eddie, which honestly made controlling Eddie oddly satisfying.
Speaking of which…
Eddie suddenly jerked and starting patting down his pockets. “Come on, come on,” he muttered. He jerked his phone out and quickly unlocked the screen. “Thank god,” he hissed, pulling up a series of pictures. He scrolled through them. Venom saw an image of Panic, dead in the lab, then his previous host curled up in a ball. “Interesting,” he thought.
“Are you there?” Eddie asked.
“Yeah great,” he growled. “Alright, listen; you’re going to do… whatever it is you’re going to do with that rocket and I guess I’m along for the ride.”
You are the ride, but go on.
“But a lot of people died because of the Life Corporation, and I can’t let that slide,” Eddie said.
Interesting. Eddie’s fear had all but vanished, replaced by a warm, pulsing glow in his chest. It wasn’t the hope that Marie had felt when she had seen him back in the lab, but it was something similar. Something very much like the power that they had felt together, taking out Drake’s men, but this time Eddie didn’t have Venom’s abilities to make the feeling possible. He did it on his own.
What did you have in mind? Venom asked, intrigued.
Eddie locked his phone and stuck it back into his pocket. “I’ve got evidence I need to get to the right people. Before the world ends, or I die, or they lock me up in a psych ward for talking to you—I need to make sure that Drake pays.”
I’m not going to let us die or get locked up, Venom told him, ignoring the end of the world comment. But alright, where are we going?
Anne managed to stumble into the ladies room.
“Oh Jesus Christ,” she sputtered, bracing her hands on the sink.
Don’t be a wimp, you’re fine. I’m much better at jumping hosts then I was when I first got here.
Anne looked up and Venom felt the blood drain from her face at her reflection. “Fuck,” she said softly, bringing a shaking had up to touch her cheek, just like Eddie had done when he’d seen Venom reflected in the car. In the mirror, the Anne-Venom did the same.
Just in your head, Venom assured her. I won’t be able to make us look as big as Eddie and me—you’re not a very good host.
Anne gripped the edge of the sink, her fear and revulsion rolling around in their shared gut. “Then get out,” she hissed.
I’m not staying long—your body’s weird and your thoughts are kind of soapy. I was going for Eddie, but those asshole men-in-black that Drake hired grabbed him.
They’re probably going to kill him when they realize I’m not in him anymore.
Yeah, good job with the MRI, princess.
“You were killing him!”
I told you—no wait, I told Eddie—I can fix it. I care about him too you know.
That surprised her. It kind of surprised Venom too.
I care about him, he repeated. More than you do, apparently.
“You do not!”
I didn’t leave him by choice.
That shut her up.
Get me out of the hospital and let’s go get him. Venom said. Unless you want this badass in the mirror to go running through the hospital and scare all the little old ladies and cancer kids.
Was it just Anne who felt a surge of fear, love, and protectiveness when they spotted Eddie kneeling on the ground, Drake’s goons standing around him? It was difficult to tell, and that surprised Venom. He wanted back into his host, his real host, betrayal or no betrayal, but not just because Eddie was a perfect match. He had had gotten… found of him.
Venom and Anne snapped out their arm and snagged one of the guards. They bit off his head and swallowed, tossing the useless body aside. “Why should I go through with Riot’s bullshit plan?” Venom thought. He had been toying with the idea all night. “If the others come here… fuck, I’ll just be back to being Riot’s pet. And Eddie won’t like it.”
It was suddenly really important what Eddie liked, and that was so shocking that Venom didn’t even bother eating the second guy.
The third one though, that was a special one. Venom snapped off his bald head and gobbled it down, then looked down at Eddie. Anne thought he was wonderful—though she tried to deny it. She wanted to kiss him, and Venom wasn’t about to let her deny that since he wanted to as well.
Arousal was a spiking, burning kind of feeling, like the ginger in the Chinese food that Eddie had eaten after leaving the hospital. Venom felt it from both of them—and his whole being burned with it. Over the arousal he managed to feel some of his own smugness—that was his tongue down Eddie’s throat making Eddie feel that way.
Then he was back in his own comfortable body. As much as he wanted to savor it, he needed to know what had happened. He seized onto Eddie’s most recent memories, and had a sudden shock.
“Riot?” he wondered. He saw the team leader boiling out of Drake’s body, his rage making him manifest. Where’s Venom!? Riot roared.
“Real it in big guy,” Venom thought, bewildered and mildly touched. “You may as well have told them I was your boyfriend. Were you that upset about Panic and Blight?”
He thought, suddenly, of going back to Riot, going back under his control. Or worse, going back to him and dragging Eddie into that relationship.
Venom recoiled at the thought. “Never,” he thought. “Never. We’re going to stop him. Fuck, we’re going to die.”
“Just the four feeder mice for you sir?” The pet shop employee asked.
“That’ll be all.”
“Fourteen-fifty please,” she said.
Eddie handed her a twenty. He thought, suddenly, of Marie, and felt sad.
Sorry, Venom said in his head. Eddie wasn’t about to answer him in public, but he tried to feel like he didn’t blame Venom. After all, Drake would have killed Marie
sooner or later.
“You got a snake?” the cashier asked as she counted out his change.
Eddie smiled. “Yeah.”
I’m not a snake, Venom muttered.
“I could leave a snake in a tank,” Eddie mumbled as he left.
Back in his apartment, he stared down at the little white mice in their cardboard box, and he had second thoughts.
“Mask?” Eddie asked.
Venom prickled at his skin, and Eddie felt a wave of fatigue that wasn’t his own. Can’t, he said.
“Come on,” Eddie said. “We’re going to meet up with Anne in a bit. You love Anne—you’ll want to be awake for it.”
Can’t, Venom repeated. “Hmmm… it would be easier to take a little from your spleen.
“Please don’t,” Eddie sighed.
Just one. I’ll probably be able to take over after just one.
Eddie wrinkled his nose and lifted one of the mice by its tail. “This is the worst, idea I’ve ever had. Why do they need to be alive again?”
Why does your food need to not be rotten? Venom snapped. “Just eat it, pussy.
“Hey, I’m doing this for you. You could at least try to act grateful.”
There was a moment of silence.
Thank you, Eddie.
“Yeah, yeah,” Eddie said, rising the squeaking little mouse higher into the air. He braced himself, opened his mouth, and shoved it in before he could change his mind.
It panicked, its little nails scratching the inside of his mouth. He didn’t want to think about what its fur tasted like. He brought his teeth down with a sickening crunch before it could get worse.
Blood mixed with the fur, and Eddie nearly chocked. Then his throat and tongue were taken away from his control and down the little corpse went.
Relief flooded through both of them as Venom found the energy to manifest his own mouth and throat. The other three mice disappeared in a single gulp.
Better, Venom sighed, and rolled back inside of Eddie’s head.
“You’re welcome,” Eddie said. He picked up the box and threw it away. “I’m not doing that again anytime soon.” He checked his watch. He still had time before meeting Ann at the coffee shop.
“Can I ask you something?” he said.
“Why the hesitation?”
Your pulse did something weird there. What is it?
“Was Riot anything other than your boss?”
“Really? Because the way he yelled at you to get on the spaceship sounded kind of… I don’t know possessive.”
“And that part where we were one person for a second, that felt weird.” Eddie frowned, the memory of being the hybrid ghosting unpleasantly through his mind. “That was weird, but there was… I’m not sure, a sort of familiarity that I think came from you.”
That’s none of your business.
“I thought there were no secrets between us?” Eddie teased.
If that’s the case, I’d like to know how you felt with my tongue going down your throat.
Embarrassment and just a touch of that spicy arousal burned through Eddie. Venom smiled with their mouth and drummed their fingers on the table.
“You know what? Never mind,” Eddie said sheepishly.
Mmmhmmm… Venom hummed smugly. That was something certainly worth exploring in the future. Not yet. He probably could manifest fully now—a little life went a long way—but he’d want a large meal afterwards. Later though, when they were both more fully recovered from the Riot fight…
Time to meet Anne, Venom reminded Eddie, settling back into their shared mind.
“Right,” Eddie said, jerking up and casting around for his keys.
Coffee table, Venom said. Eddie retrieved them and headed for the door.
Might be best not to tell her I’m alright, Venom added.
“Right,” Eddie agreed, stepping out in the hallway. “No sense in worrying her.”
And I don’t want her trying force me out of you, Venom added dryly. The image of Anne with a foghorn flashed through Eddie’s mind, and they both laughed.
Thanks for the mice.
“You’re welcome, now shush. I hate talking to you in public.”
Venom shushed. For now.