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The first time Eddie notices something is wrong he is walking home. Someone—faceless and indistinct—brushes past him, the open zipper of their jacket dragging against his chest. The pain is white-hot and sudden. It feels like a gash, a thin line of split skin gushing warm, red blood. Eddie recoils back, too shocked to scream. His hand presses against his chest, trying to keep his heart inside the safe soft-wet confines of his body. It hurts. His skin is damp with sweat, blood soaking through his shirt.

Venom, he thinks frantically. He needs Venom. He peels away his hand from his chest, trying to assess the damage but too afraid to look farther down at the hollow in his sternum. His hand is dry, unstained. He is not bleeding. A person pushes past, shoulders squared and displeasure apparent (it isn’t New York, they don’t need to yell or curse). Another burst of pain radiates across his body. The fabric of his shirt is rough, scraping off his skin. He can feel it. The footfalls around him are deafening.

He’s shoved past again and the casual violence of the action is exquisite. There is so much around him. Even the air has texture as it winds through his hair. He pauses, ducking into alleyway. It’s quieter, the noises of people distant. He presses his forehead against the rough concrete façade of the wall closest to him. The granules prick his skin. He’s bleeding everywhere. He must be. It’s all sharp.

When he pulls back. There is nothing. His skin is unmarked, damp with sweat. When the wind blows again, funnelled into this narrow strait, it is as thick and cool as water—a caress. Eddie breathes slowly. In and out. In and out. The wind slows, becomes languid and smooth like silk against his cheeks. Everything is fine. He needs to keep walking.

Inside him, Venom is silent.


 

The next time is more telling. Eddie is in a checkout line behind a woman with far too many groceries. He is hungry in only the dimmest and most distant sense, a background noise that he’s grown used to feeling. He—no they—have fed recently.

The woman in front of him flips her hair as she pays the cashier—he can’t see her face, doesn’t care either—but suddenly he can smell her, feel the vibrations in the air as her blood pulses beneath the fragile layer of her skin and as her hair shifts and settles on her shoulders. He leans forward, eyes bright and saliva filling his mouth. He is so hungry and she is so delicate, all brittle boned and blue-veined. She’s walking away but if he runs he could get to her, eat her so quick (in one bite even) if he opens his mouth wide enough—

“—Sir!”

He startles, flinching hard enough that he almost drops his family-sized packages of raw, freshly slaughtered meat onto the floor. “Sorry. Sorry. I didn’t hear you.” He says, putting the packs on the conveyor in a macabre tower. His hand comes away stained pink at the fingertips. Eddie doesn’t notice.

The cashier—Debby according to their name-tag—looks disgusted before her face smooths into a practiced smile. Eddie wonders for a brief moment if she saw, if she knows what he is. That is unlikely, it’s far more probable she think he’s some creep who likes smelling random women. Eddie takes mild offence to that; he’s a monster not a sexual deviant. He can’t help his hunger. He controls it as best he can. He could eat her too if he wanted.  Nothing could stop him from leaning over and—

“That’ll be $22.95 please.”

Eddie doesn’t startle this time. Debby avoids eye-contact as he hands the money to her. The fetid smell of fear rolls off her. She knows.

Eddie smiles, teeth too sharp. “Iron deficiency.” He says by way of explanation. “Picked up a parasite.” He’s not dangerous really, at least not to anyone good.

Venom hisses in his mind, hard-edged and angry but subsides quickly, not rising to Eddie’s bait.

When Eddie leaves he feels Debby’s gaze on him. Her fear is primal: she recognises in the most instinctive of ways that Eddie is hungry and she is prey.


 

The third time is the most embarrassing. He’s in one of San Francisco’s famous cable cars, sandwiched between tourists even though it’s edging into October. The air is cold with a lovely bite to it. Eddie likes people-watching. Hell, he likes people in general. Likes divining someone’s history and humdrum life from their faces and clothes, likes the stupidly expensive and slow cable-cars. It’s one of those days where he wants to gorge himself on the mundane. It should be pleasant but it’s not.

He’s feeling off. Not sick or unhappy, but askew. He can’t sit still, right leg shaking jerkily. He needs something that he can’t articulate, a hunger deep in his gut that can’t be satiated. All he knows is that he is without and it is frustrating.

He feels empty. It’s been so long since he’s heard Venom and he misses him with a fervent intensity. He wants help. The bouts of over-sensitivity and hunger still plague him. He forcibly relaxes his mind, trying to find the white noise of Venom inside him. Venom feels bigger in his mind right now, louder yet indistinct. It's become harder to find the edge where he ends and Venom begins. He’s about to reach him, reach them—

“Look Ma, that man’s crying.” It’s an awestruck faux-whisper, a child’s voice.

He opens his eyes. A woman is looking at him apologetically, cheeks flushed with embarrassment. She shushes her son. Are they talking about him? Eddie reaches up and touches his cheek. His fingers come away wet.

Jesus. What the fuck is happening to him?

“I’m sorry, Eddie.” Venom whispers in his mind, before retreating deeper, out of reach.


 

Eddie’s at a club. He hasn’t been in one voluntarily since he was in college. The music is terrible, the drinks are overpriced and unbearably sweet, and he’s pretty sure that the building shouldn’t be shaking like that every time the bass drops. Not much has changed.

He stands near the bar, watching the writhing bodies on the dance floor. Everyone here is so young and vibrant and he feels painfully out of place. A tired man with bags beneath his eyes in an old hoodie. He used to be good at this, Eddie thinks morosely. He orders a cocktail, trying to distract himself. What is he doing anymore? He's on the wrong side of thirty, jobless and surrounded by people half his age. But he can't leave yet. He’s there for a reason.

He's on his third (maybe fourth?) drink when a man slides up next to him. The lighting is too dim to really make anything out beyond the vague shape of his features. He’s tall, Eddie thinks fuzzily.

“Dance with me?” The man whispers, lips close to Eddie’s ear, breath humid against the fragile skin of his neck. Then he smiles, his teeth white and almost too big for his mouth.

“Yes.” Eddie says without thinking and lets himself be led to the dance-floor. Eddie knows with an unwavering certainty that by the end of the night he’ll be bent over and fucked in the dark alley outside.

The press of bodies is grounding. Helps him settle in his skin. He's not alone in the most primal, touch-hungry sense and it’s so good. He hasn’t been hugged in months. The man’s hands settle on his hips in a proprietary way that Eddie’s almost forgotten. They dance, even if it’s more grinding than anything else and they get jostled closer and closer to each other. Eddie ends up winding his arms around the man’s shoulders. The music is deafening, loud enough that he can feel it in his bones. It shatters each thought before it can form and it makes sense in that moment to lean up and kiss him.

His head tips forward, lips close enough to graze stubble. This close he can make out the light dusting of freckles on the man skin and not much else. Eddie closes his eyes and freezes, locking up unnaturally. “No.” Venom says in his mind. “You are mine.” Venom’s hold loosens as quickly as it came and Eddie almost falls over but he’s caught before he can make a fool of himself. The man’s around him are warm, strong; beneath his jacket Eddie can feel the muscle and sinew of his arms. The hunger inside him intensifies. Eddie can’t stay here.

The man’s eyes crinkle with concern. “You all right?” The lights shine bright for a moment and Eddie can make out the details of his face. He looks kind, soft in a way that makes Eddie want. He wants to fuck him.

“I-I uh I gotta go. Had too much to drink.” Eddie says, stumbling away from him. The heat in his gut coalesces, travels down farther: he’s hard.

The lights flicker on and off, rhythmic. He needs to leave now. It’s dangerous (he’s dangerous). He needs air. His hands start to shake as he gets closer to the exit. There are so many bodies, intertwined and kissing. He can hear the soft sounds of tongues fucking into pliant mouths, quiet sighs, skin dragging against fabric. A lewd cacophony layered beneath discordant music.

He’s almost outside, panting with exertion. With each breath, he can taste the depravity—dried sweat, come and blood. It’s intoxicating, more so than any of the drinks he had. He keeps walking, out the building, past the alleyway where he can hear the soft moans of a man getting his dick sucked and down the street, farther and farther away until he can only taste the salty cool air of a fall night.

Everyone is safe. Nothing happened.

Eddie decides to walk home. He’s already half-way there and he needs to clear his head. The more pressing concern is that if he calls himself an Uber, he’ll be in close proximity with another human being and he doesn’t think he can control himself anymore.

It’s late enough that there aren’t that many people on the roads and they always know to cross the street and walk a little faster if they see him approach. The phantom scent of the club lingers in his throat. His body is trembling. His eyes are damp. He had been so close to—

“Venom.” He says out loud. “What the fuck is happening?”

He expects silence. He’s been getting so much silence these days. It makes him wonder what he’s done wrong. He just wants to feel whole again.

"Eddie."  Venom's voice, so loud and deep that he almost forgets the yawning, burning emptiness inside of him. “Eddie, I’m here.” 

Eddie wants to feel anger, wants to scream at Venom but he is desperate, afraid. It drowns out everything else. “What’s happening to me?”

Venom is quiet for a moment. Eddie can feel an emotion akin to shame radiate off him. “I think it is better if I show you.” Venom says and suddenly Eddie’s mind is flooded with images, memories maybe.

It is dark. The stars above him are both unfamiliar and familiar. The cognitive dissonance should be jarring but it is not. Instead, it feels like he is being reflected back into himself—a hundred different iterations of himself packed beneath his skin. Beneath their milk-light there is joining. So many of them are violent and hungry, slaking their thirst with each other. The ground writhes, glitters. Eddie can feel their need; he is their need, an instrument for something higher, older, and greater than he is.  He is fire, all-consuming and purifying.

With a jerk, Eddie returns back into himself. The heat inside him multiplies, folds in on itself and sharpens. He leans against the cool glass of a closed shop-front, breathing heavily. He’s on the cusp of understanding, in that crumbling place where uncertainty meets realisation.

“It is an indignity of my people. It…afflicts only a minority of us. I had never thought that I would pass it onto you. A host is meant to prevent this—”

“I’m in heat?” Eddie chokes out. He doesn’t think he can stand. He knew having an alien inside of him would do weird shit from his body but he hadn’t expected it to fuck around with his libido—it felt absurd, like the plot out of a 70’s porno.

“That is the closest equivalent in your planet’s biology.” Venom’s words are meant to be comforting: he’s trying to help Eddie understand so that he isn’t as afraid.

“But why didn’t you—”

Venom pre-empts his question. “This is because of me. It is my weakness and I did not want it to infect you. I apologise for…abandoning us.”

Eddie pauses, his mind is molasses slow but he’s getting there. He’s only got millions of years of alien evolution to catch up on. “You’ve been suffering like this too?”

“Yes, just as you have been. I was foolish to think that I could protect you from this. It was inevitable.”

“Inevitable?” Eddie says, not coherent enough to form a full question.

“Our union is unfinished. We must complete it. Come, let me take us home.”

The world goes dark before Eddie can ask what that means.


 

Eddie wakes up sweating, lying in his bed with his shoes and jacket on. Heat twists in his gut, thick and coiling in a way that's unmistakeably arousal.

“Venom.” He says.

A tendril of black curls around his wrist, delicate. I am here, it says. He is not alone. The room smells like them. The walls are thin but insulating. He is safe.

He breathes sharply through his nose and the air combusts inside of him. He pulls of his jacket and hoodie and watches his skin ripple in the moonlight, shivering between iridescent black and the blood-flushed peach-pink. The line of his body is interrupted by the obscene jut of his cock tenting his jeans. Somehow, the sight of himself, of the ever-decreasing distance between him and Venom, makes his dick twitch and leak into his boxers.

The need unfurls inside of him—doubled but easier to bear now that it is shared. He understands what must be done, has always known. It is as basic and primitive as breathing. Another tendril curls around his leg, pulling his shoes and socks off, tugging his pants down. They graze his cock but do not touch it fully. The air is cool; the air is water. It does not tease him. Instead, it makes this easier to control. Sweat beads on his temples, beneath his knees and under his arms. It rises up as steam is lazy swirls. He is hot, but the burning has an end. He knows it.

The tendrils slide against his skin, kissing it. They are tentative, worshipful, touching each part of him. They are Venom.

Eddie is pushed back, laid flat against the bed, wrists pinned above him. A tentacles winds its way down his abdomen, taking care to map every contour, every dip and curve of muscle and fat. Eddie moans, unabashed, and the symbiote’s pleasure overwhelms him.

Yes. He thinks. Yes. This is what he wants. Another tendril presses against his mouth, the wet promise of his lips, and then, like liquid, it slips inside him and widens.  Eddie’s lips part, his cheeks hollow and he sucks, sucks it deeper into the heat and warmth of himself. It fucks his mouth open slowly as the other tendrils touch him. He feels light-headed, lost. It’s hard to categorise all of this sensation. He doesn’t know what to make of any of it.

Carefully, like they’re trying not to frighten him, the tendrils nudge his legs apart. The one in his mouth stops moving. It stays inside of him, as though reveling in his heat, before slipping out. Eddie gasps as it leaves him, cheeks flushed and lips saliva-slick. His throat burns a little but not in a bad way. He waits, patiently.

He feels another tentacle then, lower. It curls around his cock, pumps him in an indescribably delicate grip. Fuck. It teases the head. He feels his dick leak out pre-come. He wants to see this. They want to see themselves. His eyes open and he curls his neck forward. A tentacle cradles his head and Christ, there are so many of them. He can’t see where they begin, where they end. They’re everywhere, a net of dark satin-metal. He’s being touched by a thousand hands.

His dick glints wetly in the dimness. The stark contrast between his skin and Venom’s is surprisingly arresting. The darkness of the tentacle on his dick slightly slicker, shinier than the rest. It keeps jerking him slowly, unhurriedly. The heat inside of him shifts, gets closer to the surface. The skin on his chest blushes red and he comes suddenly, dick twitching. The tentacle around his cock tightens, milks his orgasm from him. The pearly white of his come absorbs into Venom.

His head falls back and he stares at the ceiling, eyes wide and glassy. His body is loose, the tension from weeks and weeks of silence become muted—distant. He feels like a rag-doll but it’s not over yet. The relief he feels barely lasts a moment before the hunger returns again. It’s more diffuse this time, less heady. He’s still far from lucidity, drunk with want and need and please, please, please more.

Inside their mind, Venom chides him. Calm. The tendrils around him tighten, restraining him.

“Want your mouth.” His desperation forces coherency.

He think he hears Venom laugh. Whatever we want, we get.

All Venom wants is for him to ask. He understands that now.

“Let me look at you. Venom, God I wanna see you. Don’t hide—” He’s babbling, but Venom loosens the tentacles binding his arms. He pushes up onto his elbows and watches Venom. In the dark, Venom looks disembodied, like he’s darkness personified, come to consume him. Eddie shivers. There’s always been something depraved inside of him.

Venom’s tongue is hot, inhumanely so. His saliva is slicker than a human’s, oilier. Eddie’s stomach trembles. Venom’s teeth are sharp as he nips at Eddie’s thighs. Eddie’s terrified but he spreads his legs wider. Venom tongues his balls, licks a stripe up his cock and Eddie might just come again from the sight. Venom seems to realise this and a tentacle curls around the base of his dick. His cock twitches futilely.  

Patience, Eddie. He sounds far too smug.

Eddie whines, hips rolling upward into the dripping warmth of Venom’s mouth. Please. In every beat of their heart, there is need so pin-prick pointed that it feels like his blood is sand—abrasive, rubbing him raw from the inside. The tendrils rub soothingly in his skin, trying to keep him from bursting at the seams.

Venom tongue dips lower and traces the cleft of his ass, teasing Eddie’s hole. Is that what you wanted?

“Yes.” Eddies says, back arching. “Fuck, yes—” He cries out as Venom finally, finally presses in, and sheathes himself inside of Eddie. This is the joining he was searching for, the hunger that he was trying to sate.

Venom’s tongue is crueler than it is kind. It presses against Eddie’s prostate with unerring precision. Venom understands their body, knows it better than Eddie does. Eddie feels something well inside him, right at the base of his lungs. He wants to scream. His eyes flutter shut. He can’t take in any more sensory input. There is only Venom, in and around him. His mouth opens. He is so close. The tentacle around his dick tightens. He wants to cry.

The tongue inside of his ass replaced by something larger, thicker. Impossibly, it is hotter. Eddie feels like he’s being split open; he’s so full, so needy, so wet. He can’t bear this. He can’t, he can’t

He is being torn asunder. Let me take care of you. Venom says and Eddie lets him. They’re kissing. It’s slow, a counterpoint to the vicious rhythm of the tentacle. Venom bites at Eddie’s bottom lip, not hard enough to draw blood but harsh enough to bruise.

Eddie cries out. He’s sobbing, body trembling. Venom is taking everything. His consciousness narrows to Venom’s mouth on his, to Venom’s thick cock inside him. He is nothing else but Venom. The tendril around his cock slackens, and all at once he’s coming, untouched. The pleasure refracts, reflects back and concentrates. It is blinding, like light. It’s endless, an ocean, and Venom guides him through it.

When they come back down to themself, it feels like they’ve run a marathon. They gasp, body liquid-loose and bone-tired. Their hair is plastered to their forehead and they're sticky with sweat but they are finally satisfied. Content.

“We are complete.” Venom says. They mean it.