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Another Like Us

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“Remind me again why we’re driving halfway across the nation?” Waylon was in the passenger seat of the Jeep, his right leg bounced up and down with his nerves.

“Eddie Brock, a fellow journalist, messaged me. Said he possibly had a story that was my kind of thing.”

Waylon groaned. “And by “your thing” you mean something that could possibly get us all killed?”

“Probably,” Miles replied. “Listen he contacted me through one of my dark web email accounts. We don’t typically communicate through those lines unless there’s something going on that we don’t want possible eyes on.” He drummed his remaining fingers over the Jeep’s steering wheel. “Last I heard the guy was still loosely chained to a big network news station, he hasn’t gone independent like me. There’s a high chance he’s being watched.”

“Right, so you know the guy? He a friend of yours?”

“Nope, never met him in my life.”

“So we’re driving halfway across the country to meet up with some journalist you don’t even know because he said he might, maybe, possibly, have a job for us? Miles we’re supposed to be relaxing after the last time we almost got killed.”

“You enjoyed that drug trafficking bust just as much as I did.”

“Oh yeah, driving the Jeep while your stupid ass hangs out the window filming an explosion and attack choppers was definitely the highlight of that trip. Not to mention the large amount of vaccinations I had to get just to be cleared to fly the equipment in while you drove because you light up like a Christmas tree going through airport security. And I loved the part where we almost got robbed, then you ate a-”

“I get it, I get it, you didn’t enjoy the trip. You could have said something.”

“I did say something,” Waylon said. “I said several somethings.”

A black mist materialized into a loose humanoid form in the rear-view mirror. A voice that floated through static said, “We liked that trip. It was very fun and We quite enjoyed the trees and carnage.”

Waylon glared at the Walrider in the backseat. “Hush R you’re not helping.”

“Host Waylon has a point, you wouldn’t be doing this unless you had a good reason. Do you know something you are not sharing with Us?”

“R you know I can’t hide anything from you. Why ask? No, I don’t know something you don’t.”

“Is this Brock guy at least trustworthy? I get nervous when we meet new people. Especially given your condition, I just don’t want to end up on the run again, you understand right?”

Miles nodded. “Of course I understand. It’s a big risk to continue to do investigative journalism when I’m one of the most advanced and expensive biological weapons on the planet. But if I didn’t, well, I couldn’t live with myself. This is who I am, you know this.”

With a sigh Waylon agreed. “I know. I can’t possibly ask you to change.” He played with the wedding band around his finger. “I know what I signed up for. Sometimes I just wish our lives were a bit less complicated.”

“To answer your question… I wouldn’t consider Eddie a trustworthy source.” Waylon was about to ask why but Miles cut him off and continued. “A few years back he was caught writing a bullshit story back in New York. Near everything in it was fabricated, don’t know why he did it, maybe he had his reasons, but it damn near ruined his career.” Miles had to control and suppress a growl. “It should have ruined his career. That’s the kind of shit that makes people distrust journalism and the news media feed. But he moved out west and managed to snag another job. He hasn’t done something like that again, but in my mind you don’t come back from lying. Journalists shouldn’t make it a habit to lie.”

“Good thing you never lie, huh Host?” The static purred with amusement and Waylon burst out laughing. “Good thing you’re a perfect angel of a human. Good thing you’ve never-”

“I get it R,” Miles said but he couldn’t hide the smile. “I’ve never lied in writing, in a story.”

“Oh right, I suppose the part where you wrote Project Walrider was dead was what? Host help Us out, We are at a loss for what to call it.”

Waylon was still chuckling as Miles growled. “God you’re a smartass,” Miles replied.

“Can’t imagine where he got it from,” Waylon added.

Miles rolled his eyes and focused on the road. “It wasn’t technically a lie, Project Walrider died during the riot. We’re something else, something new.”

“Something better.”

Waylon folded his arms and said, “So we’re driving to California to meet up with a man who you don’t trust, to take on a job that could possibly kill us, because?”

“I’m curious Way. And you know what they said about curiosity?”

“It killed the cat?”

“Exactly! Wait, no, not that.”

“But satisfaction brought it back?” R supplied.

“Now that I like a bit better.”

---

Eddie?

“Yes, Love?”

Are you sure this is a good idea? I do not think this is a good idea.

“Good idea or not it’s about the only shot we have.” Eddie leaned back against a brick wall. They were in a secluded portion of a park. A pond with a fountain gurgled nearby, a choked breeze moved the grass and a couple of trees swayed lazily. “In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t have all that many friends.”

We have two friends. Human friends. Trustworthy friends. Tell them.

“No,” Eddie disagreed immediately. “We aren’t involving them in this, not again. They don’t deserve it.”

Why this human then?

“Because he’s done this before. Maybe not this exactly, but similar. You weren’t here yet when it happened. There was a corporation, Murkoff, a big multi-billion dollar shit-show of human rights violations. Atrocities so bad that even I wouldn’t have believed them if the evidence hadn’t been so overwhelming. And the guy who brought it all to light was Miles Upshur.”

Corporations always bad?

“No, not always. There’s usually some bad in all of them, but some are… well I hesitate to say good, but not evil.”

How does experience exposing a bad company help us? This is not the same problem.

“No it’s not the same problem, but I think there’s something more to Upshur, something he hasn’t told the world. If I’m right, then he’ll be exactly the help we need.”

You think he is like us? Bonded?

“Possibly.” Eddie shifted his weight and pulled down the hood he was using to cover his face. “You’re good right? All full and nothing is bothering you?” He checked his watch, the glass face was cracked. “It’s almost time to meet him and I’d rather not have you act out. Right now this is a Me thing, got it?”

I’m fine. I will not be trouble. Are you ok?

“I’m…” He was about to lie but thought better of it. “I’m nervous,” he admitted instead. “I know it’s silly, I’ve interviewed so many people, been so many places, done so many crazy things, and that was before you came into my life. I shouldn’t be nervous but I am.”

Don’t be. I am here for you. We are never alone. Never.

Eddie nodded and felt tendrils brush the back of his neck ever so slightly. He wanted to just wrap himself up in the Symbiote right there and run away. Leap the wall and just go. But he didn’t. He stood quietly and watched another man approach him from across the park.

Immediately Eddie knew there was something off about the man. His gait was that of a predator, something he only noticed because he found it echoed in his own walk lately. His strides oozed confidence Eddie wished he had. As the man grew closer he could see that his skin was an unhealthy looking pale color and the way his weight was distributed seemed off and wrong.

Eddie there is two.

---

“Host that man is not one but two.”

Miles smiled. “Interesting.” He closed the gap between them and stood an arms reach away. “I hope you’re Eddie Brock or this is going to be really awkward,” Miles started off.

“I am, and you must be Mr. Upshur?” Eddie took a quick stock of Miles’ dress, he had on a dress shirt tucked into a pair of nice jeans accompanied by some good sturdy boots. Business casual, appropriate for this type of meeting, he could tell Miles wanted to leave a good impression but that he wasn’t trying too hard to impress. He was certainly doing better than Eddie’s hoodie and dirty jeans. He was pretty sure his shoes had holes in them from a rough landing he took a few days ago. He suddenly felt self conscious, but he wasn’t a big name reporter anymore, those days were behind him. He wasn’t required to look nice, just show up with information.

“Correct.” Miles asked, “So you have a potential story for me? Is that right? You said it was something that I would be suited for. What did you mean by that?”

“It’s,” Eddie paused, suddenly second guessing everything. “It’s complicated,” he finished lamely. “But We can tell you are suited for it.”

“We?” Miles questioned and raised an eyebrow. “How interesting. It seems R was right. You have a parasite too. Now I see why you-”

Miles was interrupted by a black mass of… Miles wasn’t quite sure, but it burst out of Eddie and flung itself at him. In an instant nanites just as dark sprang forth from Miles’ body to form a hard barrier around his body and R stepped in front of him to protect him with tooth and claw.

“Stop!” Eddie barked. “I told you this was a Me situation!”

At once the black substance retreated back into Eddie and the human was left breathing hard. “Sorry about that,” he said and looked up at Miles who had dropped the shield of nanites. They dissipated like a mist. “He doesn’t like being called a parasite, we prefer the term Symbiote.”

Miles told R to stand down. “And he doesn’t like it when something threatens bodily harm towards me. Tends to get a little… protective.” Miles shook the nanites off of his hand and held it out. “Let’s start over, but the right way this time. I’m Miles Upshur, and that,” he gestured at R next to him, “is my parasite, R. Formally known as Project Walrider.”

“I’m Eddie Brock and this,” The Symbiote oozed out again and formed a second head that extended forward to examine Miles and R, “is my Love, my Symbiote.”

“How come you don’t refer to Us as your Love Host?”

“Because that’s my title,” another voice joined into the conversation. All four of them had been so caught up in their conversation and demonstration that they never noticed Waylon walking up to them. “Waylon Park,” he introduced himself and stood next to Miles and R. “And I’m this mess of a man’s husband.”

“So I take it you know about… that?”

Waylon nodded and slipped his hand into R’s. “I do. It’s kinda hard to hide something like this in an intimate relationship. I’ve know R for as long as I’ve known Miles, they’re a package deal.”

The Symbiote that the man has is different from me. It is not of us. It is new.

“It didn’t look like you,” Eddie said and turned to talk to it. “It’s more… sandy? It’s made up of particles that don’t flow like you do. It’s clearly something else.”

Ask it what it is.

Miles asked instead, “So it speaks through your mind as well?”

“You can’t hear it?” Miles, Waylon and R all shook their heads. “That’s… I don’t know if that’s a relief or not.”

“Puts us on even ground at least,” Miles said and relaxed. He was fairly certain he wasn’t going to be attacked again. R wasn’t so certain and kept his hands tipped with sharp claws. “R speaks through my mind and through a thing we call “the static” it’s something that only myself and Waylon can hear.”

“Interesting, and you Waylon, are you also hosting something?”

Waylon shook his head. “No, I’m just the dumb, normal, human along for the ride. But I am curious, Mr. Brock-”

“Please, Eddie.”

“Mr. Brock,” Waylon continued, “I’m curious on what exactly that Symbiote of yours is. A weapon like Project Walrider? Was it manufactured by Murkoff and that’s why you thought Miles could help you?”

“Really, call me Eddie,” he insisted.

Waylon winced and said, “Sorry, I had a bad experience with a man named Eddie once.”

Eddie laughed. “And it soiled your whole outlook on everyone who shares the name? He was that terrible?”

Waylon said coldly, “He drugged me, tied to me a table saw, and proceeded to nearly chop my dick and balls off so he could plant his seed somewhere safe.”

“Holy shit.”

Miles cleared his throat and said, “Perhaps there is someplace more private we could continue this conversation?”

Eddie looked around and shrugged. “More private than a deserted park?”

“I was thinking somewhere with walls, away from any curious eyes where we could let our um, others out if things get heated.”

He used the term Other, like you do. I like him. We should tell them more. Maybe not trust, not yet, but tell.

“Ok. How about my place? It’s nearby, it’s quiet, it only has like two windows. Is that suitable?”

Miles smiled. “Perfect. Lead the way, or give me the address, or both.” The five of them walked back to the parking lot. R was invisible to the human eye and floated behind his host while the Symbiote was a small bubble of ooze with eyes just barely visible to the eye if you knew where to look. Eddie pulled his hood up again to cover it as it whispered into his ear. Waylon didn’t say much but he could tell things were still as tense as they were when he walked up. “You should have waited for me to give you the signal,” Miles said to Waylon. “You didn’t know if things could have gotten ugly.”

“I have the utmost confidence that you could protect me. And besides, I’m good at diffusing hot situations.” Waylon squeezed Miles’ hand. “You’re not the monster you think you are.”

“But we are,” Eddie interjected. “I don’t know much about you, Miles, or your Other, but you seem to more used to it, more… in control? Is that right?” He glanced at the small face with rows of sharp teeth huddled in his hood. “We’re still, new, at this.” He looked over at Miles who was watching him intensely. “Whatever your Other is it isn’t like mine. We are… sometimes it’s hard to tell where I end and he begins, and he’s not the best with manners.”

Miles chuckled a bit which seemed to surprise Eddie. “R and I were like that too at first. We didn’t always get along so swimmingly.” R flicked Miles on the head and Miles swatted his hand away. “I don’t know what your Symbiote is, I’ll ask that later, but if you’re anything like R and I, well, you’ll get the hang of it. It took us… R how long do you think it took us to not want to kill each other? A month?”

“More or less. And a year or more until We settled down into a routine that didn’t involve arguing every day.”

“Yeah,” Miles agreed. “About a month and then a year or so before we settled into things. It’s not easy sharing your mind with someone, or your body.”

“That’s true. Symbiote and I still mess up. We still overwhelm each other even though it’s been well over a year. Maybe you’re better at this than I am?”

“Could be, or your para-Symbiote is more of a handful than R ever was. Shit R and I still go at each other's throats sometimes.”

“I’ve told Symbiote that arguments are a natural part of relationships, right Darling?” Waylon visibly shuddered.

Right.

“Is being open about my relationship with my Other bothering you Waylon?” Eddie asked, he was genuinely confused. “Surely you can’t be judgmental of us, considering your own relationship with Miles.”

“No it’s not that, it’s the word you used.”

“Darling?”

Waylon winced again. “Yeah. That’s the one. Bad associations, can’t shake it. I apologize, I did not intend to be rude.”

Eddie said, “You seem to have a lot of hidden minefields.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Waylon replied.

“Not everyone came out of Mount Massive with god like powers and a brain-mate,” Miles explained.

“Yeah,” Waylon cut in, “some of us just got PTSD, anxiety, and suicidal depression. Guess who got what.”

Miles nudged him with his elbow. “Less gloom and doom on our first meeting Way.”

“Sorry,” Waylon mumbled. They reached the Jeep and watched Eddie walk to a motorcycle that was parked nearby. “We’ll follow,” Waylon said to Eddie as he got into the passenger side seat of the Jeep. “Just go slow, we haven’t driven around San Francisco much.”

Miles started the Jeep and said, “Hey isn’t this your old stomping grounds?”

“I went to school in Berkley not San Francisco. Unlike you, I wasn’t into partying in college and didn’t get out much.”

“Are you glad that’s changing with me?”

“Jury is still out on that one,” Waylon replied with a smile.

“You like the adventure Waylon, admit it. You like Us too, and Our Host.”

“If I didn’t I wouldn’t be here, would I?” He buckled in and watched Eddie on his motorcycle drive off. “What do you make of them?”

“I don’t know yet. Sure was surprised when R told me there were two things in one body, I thought we were only ones like that. I suppose whatever he contacted me about has to do with the fact that I’m the Host.”

Waylon said, “I’d like to know how he found out. We were very careful when we released our evidence against Murkoff and we were even more careful in court to bury those assholes and the truth under so much paperwork they’d never be able to spill.”

“Yeah and that’s if they ever walk out of death row.” Miles had his eyes on the pair as well. “I don’t know how he found out. Maybe he could tell by looking at me? Maybe we did fuck up? Maybe freaks can just sense other freaks?”

---

Eddie parked his bike on the street and watched a now familiar red Jeep drive past and parallel park not too far down the road. He waited for the other three to join him before he opened the door to his building and let them in. “We had to move a few times so please excuse the mess.” He pushed open the door to his apartment and stepped inside.

He heard Waylon say, “Eh, can’t be worse than some of the places Miles owned.”

“Do you want anything to eat? Drink? I don’t have much but you’re welcome to it.”

Miles picked his way through the apartment and sat down on a creaky couch. “No I’m fine, ate before the meeting.” Waylon asked for something to drink. R hovered around his Host until Miles asked, “Can R look around? He’s a ball of anxiety right now and I’d rather he confirm there’s no like… random soldiers hiding in your shower.”

“Sure,” Eddie replied and dug a bag of potato wedges out of the freezer. He tossed a few on a well used cookie sheet and slid it into an un-preheated oven. Then he grabbed three beers from the fridge and sat down in a chair across from his guests. “Beer?”

“Thanks,” Waylon said and accepted it.

“Can’t drink,” Miles said with a frown. “Or I totally would.”

“Can’t or won’t?” Eddie asked and popped the caps off of both of them.

“Both. The connection I have with R is mostly mental, because of this I decided a long time ago to avoid any mind altering substances, so booze and drugs are right out. Damn shame too, I could drink like no one’s business.”

“Your liver thanks you Host. You should have seen the condition it was in when We first infected you. There was so much to repair.”

“Is it… free roaming?” Eddie asked. “My Other isn’t quite so… independent. He has to stay connected to me or close by or he dies.”

Miles relaxed against the couch and said, “He’s free to a point. There are two… phases, you could say, to my infection. The first is the being formerly known as the Walrider, that’s R, the humanoid shape you see. He has his own thoughts, feelings, voice, but ultimately I can control him whenever I want. There’s a bit of a power struggle but I outclass him, he’s been designed to listen to me and only me. Then there’s the second part, or phase, the Swarm. That’s this,” Miles lifted his hand and commanded nanites to swirl around it. “Both the Swarm and the Walrider are made up of cells comprised of my own living DNA and biological matter as well as nano-technology. My body produces these cells as a consequence of being infected and the Walrider directs the production. The Swarm isn’t free thinking, it’s basically just the nanites I get to use for myself, for protection mostly but other things as well.”

“My Other isn’t like that. He’s organic not mechanical in any form. He depends on me for life and now I depend on him for stability.” He took a long drink from his beer. “I don’t know how it happened. But it just… did.”

“Mind telling us how it happened?” Waylon asked. “I’m sure you’ve gathered what happened to Miles.”

“I did,” Eddie said. “Infected while investigating that Murkoff business right?” Miles nodded. “I thought so. Something about how you acted before the incident compared to now struck me as odd, and the unconfirmed reports of you surviving things that a human shouldn’t be able to… We all thought Murkoff was making a bio-weapon we just didn’t know what it was.”

Miles asked as casually as he could, “Is that what your Symbiote is? Another bio-weapon?”

“No,” Eddie said and took a deep breath and another drink of beer. “My Love isn’t like your partner. He wasn’t created by humans, he was born on a planet far, far, from here. A race of parasitic creatures that spread through space looking for new hosts on a quest to gather-”

“Hold up,” Miles interrupted, “you expect me to believe that that thing is an alien? Like an honest to god alien? Take me to your leader, spaceship driving, beam me up Sco-”

“Yes.” Eddie said and tried to control the sudden bubble of anger that was rising inside of him. “I do.”

He insults me. Insults my kind. Eddie tell him to stop and show some respect before we make him.

“Well,” MIles said and shared a glance with Waylon, “can’t say I saw that coming. How did you end up infected then? Did it fall on you?”

“No,” Eddie said, he could feel himself calm down. “I snuck into a laboratory owned by the Life Foundation. They were keeping several Symbiotes captive and were trying to force them to bond with humans. Turns out,” Eddie reached up and the Symbiote wrapped around his hand, “it takes a special kind of human to successfully bond with one. I happened to be one such human. It happened accidentally and suddenly, I didn’t have any control over what happened, but I wouldn’t take it back.”

“What is it with journalists and sneaking into dangerous laboratories? I swear you’re like moths to an open flame,” Waylon said and drank from his beer. “Oh a big scary laboratory? Dangerous, life altering experiments? I don’t have anything to protect myself with but a camera? I think I should go in, that sounds like a good, smart, sane idea.”

Miles put an arm around Waylon and said, “Curiosity?”

“Once again, killed the cat.”

Miles repeated R’s words, “But satisfaction brought it back?”

“No, a dangerous nano-technology bio-weapon did. Or else those eleven, high caliber, “curiosity” rounds you took to the chest definitely would have killed you.”

“It takes a special kind of person to host Project Walrider too. I was lucky R picked me and that I was compatible. Or else we both would have died down in that lab. You said that your Symbiote depends on you for life? So does R. He can’t survive without a host for very long, we’re not sure how long and he hasn’t been too keen on testing it out.”

R wandered back into the room and sat down next to Waylon on the couch. It seemed curious to Eddie and not very threatening. It was in a solid form, well muscled but lean. Mostly a silvery white color with black limbs and veins that ran up it’s body. It’s face was unlike anything Eddie had ever seen. It seemed to have all the parts of a normal face, but they weren’t all the way there. It didn’t have a nose, there was a clear line where a mouth should be but no evidence that it opened, and black pits were eyes should be. There were no ears and it had no hair but it did have brow ridges and defined cheekbones.

The Symbiote extended out from Eddie, a head and arm formed out of the slick black goo to examine R. The Symbiote kept his distance, he didn’t want to appear threatening to the other creature. You cannot hear me can you? You are like them? The Walrider was silent. Then the Symbiote borrowed Eddie’s voice to ask, You are intelligent yes? Understand conversation and human speak? Do you have a voice? A borrowed voice?

R looked over at Miles who seemed just as startled as he was that the Symbiote spoke words from it’s toothy maw. Miles nodded and said, “You can speak through me R, it’s ok.” They had only done this a few times, neither of them enjoyed doing it and since Waylon could hear the voice in the static now there was little need.

“We can speak through Our Host,” The words came from Miles’ mouth but they were wrong, harsher, with a clear touch of the inhuman. They lacked the natural inflections and change in tone, everything sounded calculated. “However We very much prefer not to. We are intelligent, We read and write and understand several languages. We are old, and We are proud, and We will fight for Our freedom and the safety of Our Host.”

You like your Host then? Your bond is strong? Forever?

“Forever,” the words came from Miles’ mouth but R nodded in agreement. “Connected until death, unable to separate even if We wanted to. And We do not want to. Our Host is perfect and We could not ever dream of a better one.”

Does your Host like you? Eddie likes me. We are married. We are one.

R hesitated in answering, the hesitation unreadable on his face but clear in Miles’. “Yes.” He said finally. “Our Host cares for Us, he needs Us. What We are to him isn’t easy to describe. We lack the words convey what We feel and what he feels. We are sure you understand.”

I do. Eddie I approve of them. They can live and they can know more. He turned his attention to Miles and said, Just show some respect and watch your mouth or we will rip it off and eat it.

“We would like to see you try,” Miles growled low in his throat and he reached over to elbow R.

“Knock it off,” Miles said to him, his voice returning to his own. “Stop being so protective, it was a joke...it was a joke right? Would he really do that?” Miles asked.

Eddie flinched but said, “He’s been known to eat a face or two, or whole head.”

The reaction Eddie was not expecting was for Miles to laugh and say, “Oh he’s that kind of beast. I can relate. R’s made me eat ton of unpleasant things, human included.”

“And you’re ok with that?”

Miles snorted, “Hell no! But mistakes happen. There’s an incredible strain on my body from being the Host.” He stood up and pulled his shirt off. “As you can see, I have almost no stores of body fat, it's pretty much just muscle, organ, and bone. And I don’t even have that much muscle. Turns out that being free living and off of life support means that the nanites drain most of my resources. I have to eat a lot to maintain my body functions and there’s no way to slow down or control how much the nanites use. If I go too long without eating the nanites flip a switch in my brain that makes me lash out at anything remotely edible. Usually it’s people.” Miles looked away and said, “I’m not proud of it. It’s only happened a few times, but it’s the price I pay for what I have.”

Eddie looked at Miles’ body. When he was wearing clothing it was easy to mistake him for a normal person. But his chest was dotted with healed over scars, most of them seemed to be bullet holes but there were long healed over laceration scars as well. Besides the scars his chest looked wrong, it was pushed out more and seemed longer, an effect only exaggerated by how thin he was. “Your proportions look wrong,” he commented.

“Because they are wrong. R changed some things about me, physically. Expanded my ribcage, made my heart and lungs larger, stronger, changed some bone lengths in my legs and arms stuff like that. Didn’t ask either,” Miles said looked at R.

“We didn’t think it necessary to ask at the time.”

Miles rolled his eyes and moved to put his shirt back on. “And the scars?” Eddie asked. “Before or after you became one with your Other?”

“Most are after. These,” Miles pointed to the various large round scars, “are from the bullets that killed me when I was human.”

“You don’t consider yourself human?” Eddie asked, surprised. “What do you think of yourself as? A monster?”

“Not sure,” Miles replied. He pulled his shirt on over his head and sat back down. “It was an inner struggle of mine for almost a year. What was I? A human with a parasite? Or had I become something else? Something new? Something… better?”

Waylon squeezed Miles’ hand and said, “We decided that he probably wasn’t human anymore, and we’re ok with that. Maybe a DNA test would tell us otherwise, but I’m not sure if knowing the exact composition of his genes would change how we think.”

The room went silent while Eddie thought that over. Are you ok? “Yes, Love, I’m fine. I’m just thinking.” Are you upset with me? With us? “No, never. You’re the best thing that’s happened to me. I’m ok.” He turned to address Miles. “You have thoughts that differ from my own greatly. I do consider myself a human, a human with a partner. My Other isn’t bound to me forever, he can leave and has left. When he leaves me I am just a normal person again. So I don’t think I’m anything new or different. Just a person and his partner.”

“An alien partner, but hey, at least you know the peace of figuring yourself out.”

“My Other, while also a drain on my body doesn’t appear to have the same effects as yours done. That seems tedious and dangerous. Maybe I should consider myself lucky?”

“Maybe,” Miles said.

Waylon leaned forward and said, “As much as I’m enjoying listening to you two talk about your body-mates I’d really like to know why we’re here? Why did you contact us?” He wanted to ask more questions but held off for now.

“Well,” Eddie started, “we think there’s something in this town. Something… big, possibly dangerous and possibly like… us.”

“Us as in you, or us as in another human in a host parasite relationship?”

“We aren’t sure,” he said honestly. “It’s pretty baffling. We find marks of it around town, there’s been murmurs on the streets of homeless folk disappearing at much higher rates, people are vanishing and no one knows why.”

Miles took a moment to mull the information over. “It could be a regular human serial killer, someone with an urge to “clean up the streets” or people having a bit of fun at the expense of those who are least fortunate. It also could be something sinister, like another corporation pulling the desperate away for experimentation. Murkoff was fond of this.”

“As was Life.”

Waylon added, “It could be less sinister but still terrible, like say the city officials are rounding up people and shipping them to a different city. No matter the reason, if it’s true and the homeless or street workers are vanishing, it could be something we’re interested in. We haven’t done a down to earth human rights story in a while.”

“I’ll investigate it,” Miles said. “I want to rule out monsters first, perhaps the marks you’re seeing are the result of something else and you’re mistaken? Could we see them?”

Is he calling us a liar? Is he judging our abilities?

“Love nobody is saying that.” Eddie stood up and nodded. “Yes I can show you to them immediately.” He opened a window and put a leg out before asking, “How mobile are you and your Other? How well can you move through a city?”

“Like a nightmare,” Miles replied and followed him to the window. “We can fly as fast as you need.”

“Good, try to keep up,” Eddie said and jumped. Miles followed in a cloud of nanites.

And then the apartment was empty and quiet besides Waylon who was still on the couch. “Ok… Cool, great. I’ll just… I’ll just stay here then.” He looked around and sighed, then the timer for the oven went off.

---

Miles was used to free falling, sometimes from buildings, sometimes from cliffs and sometimes he just dropped out of the sky because he liked the rush. What he wasn’t used to was the sight of someone transforming into what he could only describe was a monster. Eddie’s body was completely engulfed by whatever material made up the Symbiote, he became bigger, more muscular, and had obvious clawed hands. Miles was used to watching his own body shift when he coated himself in nanites, he knew he teeth grew sharp and pointed and his irises burned silver in a pool of black sclera, but his reflection was mostly the same, he could still see himself inside. He couldn’t see anything of Eddie left inside what the Symbiote did to him.

The creature turned around in midair to see if Miles had followed them and gave them a huge sharp toothed grin and a thumbs up when they saw that they had. They jump from windows without hesitation. Unlike someone I know.

“That was one time! One time!” Eddie focused on their landing and grabbed hold of a street light, their weight should have bent it, should have broken it, but they had gotten good at shifting their body around objects and absorbing the force of their own impact. They hit the the street light, curled around it and leapt to another one. Together they bounded down the street on top of the lights before leaping onto a fire escape and scaling it to the rooftops.

Miles kept easy pace, but he kept himself higher in the air. He could already hear the shocked gasps of people down below. He hoped most of that was directed at Eddie and not himself. For a few years they kept out of sight of humans, hiding to keep the existence of Project Walrider a secret. The last thing he needed was the public’s renewed interested in the weapon he carried inside himself.

Eddie slowed and stopped on the roof of one building and watched Miles land neatly and walk over. “You weren’t lying about the flying part,” Eddie commented.

“No, it’s not a figure of speech, but it does draw attention.” He took in Eddie’s form, how he towered over him and the large gaping maw filled with rows of sharp teeth. “As do you. Have you ever heard of stealth?”

“Of course,” Eddie said and moved to the edge of the roof. “But it’s daylight and we didn’t feel like waiting all night for this, and walking would take too long.” He heard Miles sigh. “It’s ok, the people of this town already know of us.”

They don’t like us. They don’t like me, or when we become one. They scream and run away.

“Gee I wonder why?” Miles said under his breath and stepped up beside Eddie. “The town doesn’t know of me though, and I would have liked to keep it that way.”

“They won’t know who you are, they’ll just think you’re another one of us, an escaped experiment from the Life Foundation.” Eddie leapt from the rooftop and cleared the gap to the building next to it in a single bound. Miles flew after him and from there they picked up their pace. Eddie was pleased to see that Miles could keep up with him without trouble. He watched the other man leap gaps and vault over air vents when he wasn’t flying in a cloud of dark particles. He and his Other couldn’t fly so they had to take grounded routes, but the speed at which they could traverse through the city more than made up for that limitation.

Eddie loved the way it felt to be bonded with his Other. The way his muscles stretched and pulled him across rooftops and the intoxicating power he felt leaping great distances and not feeling the impact. He let himself get lost in the pleasure and no longer argued when his Other wanted to go out. I like this too. We feel good. Powerful. Like this is how I’ve been born to be. Connected to you. With you, together, forever.

“Forever,” Eddie promised.

“How much further?” Miles asked. He had stopped sprinting and took to the air so he could speak without breathing hard and get close enough to not need to shout.

Eddie was dragged back into the present and remembered their mission. He quickly surveyed the area and changed direction abruptly. “This way!” He called, he had nearly blown past it. He landed heavily on another fire escape and jumped down to the pavement below. It was a secluded alleyway.

A cloud of nanites parted and Miles stepped out. He looked mostly human again and watched the Symbiote recede from his host. It was like watching someone take off a pair of footie pajamas or a coverall. The mouth opened and pulled back like Eddie was simply putting a hood down. “Over here,” Eddie said and motioned for Miles to follow. They stopped by a large dumpster which Eddie pushed aside with ease. “Look at this,” he pointed to the wall.

Miles knelt down and examined the brickwork. He drew his hand over the surface which was marred by four long, deep, gouges. To him they looked like the claw marks of an animal. Whatever left them was large, large like Eddie.

“In this same area three homeless people went missing over the span of a week.”

“How do you know?”

“I talk with them,” he replied simply. “They’re just people. Though some politicians and even the general public don’t see them that way. Shit they treat them like they carry the plague sometimes. But if you really want to learn about what’s going on in the darker parts of the city, the places out of view or out of mind, you have to ask the folks who live there.”

“Makes sense.” Miles couldn’t object to the logic. It’s how he did some of his own reporting after all. “Are you sure these aren’t yours?” He asked. “The marks I mean.”

“What are you getting at?”

“Well they’re large, they look they could have been easy for you to make in your other form. Maybe you left them and just don’t remember?”

Impossible. The Symboite’s voice rumbled deep from within Eddie. We do not frequent this part of town. When we become one we do not lose our memory. If we left this mark we would have remembered. And we do not remember. Ask better questions human.

“Watch your tone love,” Eddie said trying to calm down the Symbiote. He let the tendrils of his Other lace through his fingers. “He was just curious, and probably drawing off of his own experiences with his other.” He saw Miles awkwardly nod and he continued, “He’s right though. We don’t normally travel through this part of town together. We came to investigate after the first disappearance, that’s when we found the markings. Sure enough there’s similar ones on the walls and streets around all the disappearances.”

Miles stood up and looked around. “Is there anything nearby? Anything important?”

Before Eddie could answer Miles held up his hand. R said, “What about places to hide? Host ask that.”

He repeated the question and Eddie gave it some thought before answering, “Yes, actually. There’s a subway entrance not far from here and a light rail station, lots of noise, lots of people, easy for someone or something to slip by undetected.”

“What about a sewer line? Are there any big enough for someone to slip into?”

“I’m not sure, we don’t go down into the sewers when we have rooftops to use. I’d have to look into it.”

“We might have to if this creature utilizes them. Hope you can turn your sense of smell off.”

Eddie frowned. “We can’t. Can you?”

Miles opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted by the sounds of screaming people. A lot of screaming people. “This happen often?”

“No,” he said as the Symbiote covered his body and they leapt to wall and began to climb it. They left heavy claw marks behind. Miles looked at the marks and compared them to the one near the dumpster and then followed behind.

They followed the sounds of a panicked crowd and Miles was praying it was something like a line derailing or a car accident. Something simple, something that wouldn’t involve them. Suddenly the static in his head buzzed to life.

“Host hold!”

Miles skidded to a stop but Eddie kept charging ahead. “What’s wrong?”

“Focus,” R said and swirled around Miles semi protectively. “Can you feel it? In the static? It’s like a-”

“There’s something talking that isn’t you or me. But I can’t understand it, it’s like its in a different language speaking in a different frequency.”

“Exactly. There’s something else too, a contamination, an interference. Something that is there but cannot speak through the static.”

“Yeah I feel it. Like a rock or a wall, this static is vibrating around it, struggling. I still can’t understand it. You don’t think…”

“We don’t know what We think. But proceed with caution, it’s clear the other human did not.”

Miles nodded and continued to run across the rooftops. He scanned ahead for any signs of Eddie and found him leaping across to another building. Miles poured on the speed to catch up. R was radiating worry and concern he knew something was wrong he just wasn’t sure what it was.

When they reached Eddie they were surprised to see he was waiting for them. He seemed like the type to just jump in ahead. “My Other senses something strange.”

One of us is down there but it’s not one of us. Not me. Not you. He swiveled his head to get close to Miles, who, to his credit didn’t flinch. And not you.

“R noticed something too, a ripple in what we call the static. The medium that we communicate through. There’s something using it nearby but it’s not us.”

Eddie asked, “Are there more of you?”

“No, we’re it,” Miles replied. “You?”

There was clear hesitation before Eddie finally admitted, “Yes.” It was apparent Miles was waiting for an explanation. “My Other wasn’t the only Symbiote they found in space and brought back to Earth. There were others. Quite a few more. They were all in the lab, besides one called Riot who escaped at the shuttle crash site. But Riot is dead so it can’t be them. We didn’t actually learn of the fates of the others, but we assumed them dead.”

“Maybe you assumed wrong…” Miles said looked down to the streets below. His eyes were scanning the crowd looking for something that didn’t belong. People were running in all directions so that didn’t help, it seemed like they didn’t know what they were running from, just that they should be running. Then he spotted it, a shimmery distortion that moved through the crowd. “There,” Miles said and pointed to it. “Can you see it?”

“Yes Host We can.”

“I don’t see anything.”

Look closer Eddie. Look for the wrong. I see it.

Then he saw it. It was like when heat waves bounce off of pavement. The air almost rippled. He followed it with his eyes then pointed, “There right?” Miles confirmed with a sharp nod of his head. “What is it?”

“I don’t know… it looks like... “ Miles shook his head. “No, it can’t be.”

“What does it look like?” Eddie pressed. “Have you seen something like this before?”

“It looks like how R looked to me, before he infected me. Almost exactly the same. But that’s impossible, there are no other Walriders. R’s been the only one for decades.”

“Unless they made more in secret.”

Miles shook his head. “Impossible,” he said. “R would have felt them like he feels them now. I would have felt them after I became the Host. Neither of us felt anything out of the ordinary at the asylum labs.”

“Maybe you assumed wrong,” Eddie said back.

“Maybe…” Miles mumbled. “Shit R, do you know how to fight another Walrider? Maybe we can talk to it? Them? Does it have a Host? I can’t see from here.”

“The Host might be hidden away, for safety. We were to be used as a remote weapon, hide the Host and use Us to destroy and kill as much as possible. They had no idea that you were as much a weapon as We were.”

“So if the Host is hidden… is there any way to stop a group of nanites? I’ve already established that I can’t kill you, back when we-”

Eddie interrupted, “It’s moving.”

All eyes were on the distortion as it carved its way through the plaza. It didn’t seem like it was going to do anything, but things got violent. A body exploded in the typical fashion when a group of nanites invaded a body and pushed out. Then it solidified and grabbed another human and ripped it in half. “What the fuck…” Miles trailed off. The gore he had seen all too many times, the violence too, none of that was new. But the head that appeared on the body wasn’t like anything Miles had ever seen on R. The jaw unhinged and a long tongue rolled out. It looked more like what Eddie turned into than anything R looked like.

The creature bit down on the head of the person causing a quick short spurt of blood to flow from the neck before the rest of the body was shoved into an ever growing mouth lined with teeth. “Oh it’s… eating… them.” Eddie sounded a little queasy.

“What never seen a person get devoured before?” Miles asked in a half joking tone.

“Not from the third person,” he replied.

“I have,” Miles said, “it never gets any easier.” He watched the creature lick its jaws with its massive tongue then vanish again the naked eye. “Interesting,” Miles said more to himself than anyone else. The creature appeared again then moved less than an organic living organism of flesh and blood and more like a wave of flesh. “It doesn’t look like sand, or mist, like you do R.”

“But the static is roaring Host. It can cloak itself like We can. It has Our power of entering bodies and destroying them from the inside. It is clearly like Us but…”

“Yeah something's different about it.” He watched it move and engulf another person in a mass of flesh. They heard screams that were cut off violently by the creature consuming another head whole.

“I don’t care what’s different about it, or similar or what it is!” Eddie jumped up onto the ledge. “It’s hurting people and we cannot allow that!” Heroes Eddie! We’ll be heroes! The Symbiote wrapped itself around Eddie and they turned back to the crowd and the monster below that was killing people without hesitation.

“Eddie no!” Miles said and reached for his arm. “Don’t, we can’t just rush in!” But Eddie didn’t listen he leapt from the roof and descended down into the hysteric crowd. Their presence didn’t help sooth the panic, it intensified it tenfold as people screamed “Another one!”

“Goddamn it all,” Miles swore and paced the rooftop.

“They certainly are full of surprises Host.”

“What should we do?” Miles growled in frustration. “I don’t want to jump into a fight when I don’t know who or what I’m fighting.”

“Maybe we won’t have to, maybe they’ll take care of the fight for us?”

Miles didn’t respond but he did watch Eddie and his Symbiote approach the monster. It was a tense few moments as the two creatures sized each other up. Eddie was bigger and bolder and walk straight into the monster. Without much warning he jumped and landed right on top of it. He tore at it with strong arms and sharp claws. The creature roared in pain and the static was so sharp Miles and R flinched.

It retaliated and launched itself at Eddie. They watched it wrap around him and attempt to penetrate their body but it couldn’t get in. Eddie roared and tore at the creature sending chunks of greyish black flesh flying. He managed to separate himself from the creature and kept his distance, circling it, and looking for a vulnerability. Let’s go Eddie. Kill it! Rip it apart!

“We have to be patient love. We have to wait for a good moment.” The other creature struck first again and Eddie felt the Symbiote pull his body out of the way. They weren’t in synch they were distracted. They couldn’t fight like this. “Take over,” Eddie said. “Your instinct is better than mine. Just be careful ok? Don’t be too impulsive.”

But Eddie… are you sure?

“Yes! Just don’t hurt civilians and don’t hurt Miles!”

I understand. We will never hurt an innocent. You can trust me.

The Symbiote could feel Eddie give way and he was given full control of his body. The Symbiote didn’t like this. He didn't like not feeling his partner. The whole point of their partnership was that it was a partnership. But he could also feel Eddie’s fear of this creature. The way it tore apart people scared him. It was like when they fought Riot. Eddie knew they had to, but was afraid of it and was afraid of fighting. He didn’t blame him. So he decided to end this fight as quickly as possible. He ran forward and blocked the creature’s tentacle like appendage with one arm and then got in close. He dug his claws into the fleshy parts he could reach and tore. It gave way easily but he was distressed to see that there was no human underneath. He snarled and dug his heels into the pavement and swung the creature. It was tossed into a nearby shop and crashed through the glass front. The Symbiote roared and stood his ground and waited to see if it would re-emerge.

After a few tense moments it did. It came out of the storefront in a mass that was less like a wave and more like a cloud of angry silver smoke. The Symbiote had no idea how to approach this type of adversary. He questioned Eddie but his partner didn’t know what to do either. A brief moment of panic welled up between them both and then he was forced to act. The particles hit him and surrounded him, blocking out his eyes and coating his mouth and nose. He snarled and swiped at the air but it didn’t feel like he was hitting anything. He leapt into the air and landed away from the swarm of particles only to find they were tracking him. Eddie!

“Don’t panic, keep moving.”

They started to run and the fog followed them. By now the crowd had all but vanished only a few people were left cowering behind parked cars or low decorative walls. The Symbiote turned and and decided to stand his ground. The swarm immediately overwhelmed him again but he tried to swallow back the panic. Then an arm materialized from the swarm, it was strong and seemed to be shaped of the same material his own body was made out of. A fluid that had physical strength. He felt the creatures claws rip into his body and pull it out away from his Other. Then they felt the pain.

Miles was watching the fight from the roof closely. “We’re going to have to help them,” he said when the creature had come out of the ruined storefront. “Whatever it is it’s part nanites and they have no idea what to be careful of.”

“Neither do we Host. We are nearly as blind.”

“Nearly, but not totally. At least we know what the nanites feel like.” He watched as a swarm so similar to his own chased Eddie around the square. “It can’t penetrate through that Symbiote. It’s looking for a way in. And it’s going to find one.”

A few moments later the creature saw its moment. “There!” Miles said and focused on the fight with even more intensity. “It pulled apart the Symbiote from Eddie! It can get in that way, we can’t let that happen.”

Miles vaulted the edge and let the swarm catch him before he hit the ground. He ran up and collided with the enemy swarm. All at once his brain was bombarded with the foreign feeling of having other nanites pull at it. He could hear its voice, confused and panicked in his head. Then he could feel it try to enter his own body, his blood. But his own nanites fought them back. The invaders were heavier, slower, and far less precise than his own. He was easily able to fight them back. He coughed up some bile and spit it before he manifested claws of his own and attacked at the swarm.

It was just like when he fought R all those months ago in the lab in the basement of Mount Massive. His claws were tearing through something but it might as well have been nothing. He couldn’t feel if he was doing damage and the foreign static screeched loud in his ears. “Eddie are you ok?”

Eddie is not here just me. Eddie is hurt. Blood is on fire! The Symbiote staggered and dropped to one knee.

“Hey, hey, get up, you have to get up,” Miles urged him to stand and turned his attention back to the creature. It had reformed into a solid mass. It was mostly teeth and tongue as it walked towards them. “Oh fuck this and fuck me.”

“Later Host.” R swirled around him protectively. “You’re doing good. Remember back to when we fought that failed nanite experiment? Down in the labs? Remember how that felt, how we beat it?”

“Vaguely,” Miles said and jumped and hovered to dodge a clawed swipe. He floated around the creature to lead it away from Eddie who was clutching his chest in pain. The material that made up the Symbiote was bubbling and tendrils were forming and vanishing, rolling back into the body. “I remember nearly vomiting my guts out afterward and I recall passing out.”

“Remember better.”

“Oh yeah, I’ll get right on that,” he said and ducked under another whip-like tentacle. He could see that Eddie was now lying face down on the ground and the Symbiote was writhing in what looked like pain. “Eddie’s in a bad way R, we have to finish this somehow.” Miles let his feet touch the ground long enough side step another attack and rush the strange creature. He got close enough to be able to touch the flesh. It was cold and seemed to always be moving under his hand.

The static in his head screamed in a wavelength he couldn’t comprehend. But then the world around them fell away and he saw things. Things he had never seen before. A laboratory, the Murkoff logo, scientists talking loudly in a language he didn’t understand. There were humans fed to him over and over again, each one was engulfed but couldn’t sustain him. Loneliness, bitterness, then freedom. A mistake, an open latch, fresh air, freedom. Fear. Pain. Confusion. There were animals and people, all died, all gone. Then there was something new, a black mass on the ground, it gave off signals of life. Infection. A voice. Not lonely anymore. Not scared anymore. But hungry, so very, very, hungry. He saw city streets and dark alleyways, there were cramped sewers and rail lines that were too bright. He witnessed humans being eaten and their remains tossed out by the dumpsters. He saw flashes of days and moments of nightly hunts. But the hunger still clawed deep at his gut and tore at his soul. He became the hunger and it was overwhelming.

Then he was ripped from the memories and thrown back into the present. Miles stumbled back and nearly fell on his ass. The creature stared at him, the static a loud mess of emotions he was only slightly better at understanding. “Can you understand me?” Miles tried. “I want to talk, I don’t want to fight you.” He chanced a few steps forward and dropped his protective swarm. “I’m like you, sorta. Maybe we can work this out?”

It hesitated, a few eyes formed along one of the main offshoots of its body. A mouth followed the eyes and it tried to speak. It couldn’t form any words but the attempt was promising. It took a step forward but froze and turned around. Miles could hear sirens wailing in the distance. “Shit,” Miles swore as the head swung back his direction and bared all it’s teeth. “That’s not us! We didn’t-” It roared and turned to face the police cars that were speeding into the square.

Police officers got out, guns drawn and took cover by their vehicles. They had them surrounded on one side. Miles threw his hands up and said, “Don’t shoot! Don’t-” Gunfire started and the monster screamed as bullets bit into the flesh that wasn’t made of nanites. It charged the officers, taking two with it as it turned from solid flesh to a storm of nanites. Only Miles and Eddie remained in the square. Miles could hear Eddie groaning in pain. All eyes were on Miles who was still in his other, less human form. “Fuck me again,” Miles muttered. “Hey!” Miles called out, “Don’t shoot please. Please. We didn’t hurt anyone, just let me get my friend there,” he gestured to Eddie who was still lying behind him, “and we’ll be on our way. Like we were never here.”

He could tell the officers were confused, they didn’t expect him to speak. A few lowered their weapons and Miles had a bit of hope they wouldn't shoot for a few moments. Unfortunately when he took a step back to be closer to Eddie one of the officers panicked and shot which caused all of them to start shooting. Miles could feel a few bullets tear into his body, but he had been shot before so this wasn’t new. He threw up a protective barrier of nanites around himself and ran for Eddie who was still covered in the Symbiote. “Eddie, hey can you hear me? Or the Symbiote, either one.”

Eddie hurt. Hurt and I can’t fix it. Help him.

“I’ll try, I’ll try, but we need to get out of here.” Miles wasn’t sure how long he could keep blocking bullets. “Can you stand?”

No. Too damaged. Too much hurt. Help.

“Right.” Miles looked at Eddie’s body and tried to lift him. He was strong, unbelievably strong, but Eddie was just too big for him to carry. “You need to let him go, he needs to be normal sized so I can carry him.” Reluctantly the Symbiote retreated back into Eddie’s body and Miles was able to scoop him up and carrying him away in a flurry of nanites. He went straight up into the sky, a tactic he used quite a lot to break line of sight and lose Murkoff’s hired soldiers. He touched down miles and miles away on another rooftop. He was pretty sure he had lost the police and gently, he set Eddie down.

The man was sweating and crying out in pain. “What’s wrong with him?”

Blood on fire! Hurts everywhere. Can’t fix it. Can’t repair it. Don’t know what it is. Invaders!

Miles shared a glance at R and said, “I think some of those nanites got in. We’ll have to get them out before they cause any lasting damage.”

“Think back to the asylum, to when you freed those patients from their suffering. Remember how you used Us to go inside and shut down their organs? Remember how you sensed Waylon’s damaged nerves and how you fought off the invading nanites using Our cells? The same should work here.”

“It’s worth a shot,” Miles said. He pulled Eddie’s sweatshirt and t-shirt off so he could have direct skin contact. He placed a hand over Eddie’s body and instantly the Symbiote rose up to meet the palm of his hand with resistance. “Please,” Miles said, “let me in. I want to try to help.” The Symbiote backed down and Miles was allowed to concentrate and send his own cells into Eddie’s body.

It was chaos inside. Miles could hardly get a clear read on anything. There were human cells he recognized from being in contact with Waylon or the Variants back at Mount Massive, but there were also several cell types he had never experienced before in his life. One was completely alien to him and he assumed that was the Symbiote. He ignored those and moved on to the other type. It gave off a signature that was similar to R’s but also had a bit of Symbiote in it. “Strange,” Miles muttered and asked, “R you think this is it? The invader?”

“We think so. Shall we destroy it?”

“Yes,” Miles responded. “No mercy, chase it out of him,” he said coldly. Miles could feel R flow through his arm and down into Eddie. It only took a few moments of deep concentration for the invaders to be taken care of and R returned fully to Miles’ body.

“Host they were a hybrid.”

“I thought so. I was getting that feeling when we were fighting it, and those memories it showed us…”

“We don’t like this.”

“Neither do I.” Eddie coughed harshly and tried to sit up. Miles put a hand on his chest and pushed him back down. “Hey, hey, take it easy. You ok?”

Eddie shook his head and groaned. “Feels like my insides are on fire… again.”

“That creature tried to get inside you,” Miles said. “I chased it out but you were hurt pretty badly. I’m sure your Symbiote is currently working very hard to fix what was broken.”

We are Eddie. We are fixing you. We will fix you. Make you better.

“Thanks Love,” Eddie managed and forced himself to sit up despite Miles’ protests. “What happened? Did we kill it?”

Miles shook his head. “No, it escaped when the police showed up. It seemed scared of them and left as soon as they arrived. I had to take you and run too, the police weren’t too interested in hearing what I had to say.”

“Where are we?”

“No idea,” Miles answered truthfully. “I was hoping you could help with that when you woke up. We should get back to your apartment. I need to patch myself up and tell Waylon what happened and you need to rest.”

Eddie tried to stand and nearly fell over, a thick black tentacle caught him and held him up. Eddie you are not well enough for walking. Lie back down. Lie down before you hurt yourself more.

“We can’t wait, we should move now.”

Miles offered up, “I’ll carry you. I just need directions.”

“Alright,” he agreed. “That sounds like the best option.” He let Miles scoop him up and then they were flying over the city. It was an odd sensation, being held and flying. Eddie wanted to enjoy it but his organs felt like they were made of lava. “Miles,” Eddie had to know something, “are you going to help us?”

Every sane and rational part of him was screaming to say no, but he never listened to that part of him and said, “Yes. Of course we will. There’s no way we’re letting you tackle this alone. It’s far too big for one reporter.” Miles smirked and said, “Even if that reporter is bonded with an alien parasite.”

We are not a parasite!

“Thanks,” Eddie said. “If you hadn’t been there, we might be dead right now. You didn’t have to lift a finger to help us, but you did. And we’re grateful, both of us.”

“Not sure you should thank me yet. Depending on how complicated this gets we might both wish that that thing had torn us apart too.”