Eddie, wake up.
“Hm? I—I’m awake. I wasn’t sleeping”
You were sleeping.
Eddie drags himself up to a sitting position, dazed and bleary in the pre-dawn dark. He looks over to check the time, but the glowing red characters on his alarm-clock’s display are apparently having trouble gathering their wits. He glares and squints at them, which seems to intimidate them enough to organize themselves into legible numbers. He immediately collapses back into his pillows.
“Christ, it’s four a.m.,” he means to groan, though it comes out more like a whine than he’d have preferred. “Of course I was fucking asleep.”
I have been watching television, Eddie.
“Oh, great,” he says covering his eyes with the palms of his hands. “Anything interesting?”
I have found bad guys for us to eat.
“What, on TV?” Eddie can’t help but chuckle. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense. You watching the news?”
No. It is called the Disney Channel.
Eddie pauses for a beat. “Ok, I’m going back to sleep now.”
Eddie, we must find these bad guys and consume them.
“We’re not going to the Disney Channel. I don’t care how bad the shows are, they’re kids. We don’t eat kids, remember?”
Because they are far too small to be worth the effort.
The tone in which the words are spoken makes Eddie imagine his other nodding sagely, and he has to suppress a laugh.
“No, because kids are innocent,” he says. “Always. Not bad guys.”
But the men who force the children to perform are bad guys. Is this not human trafficking?
“No, it’s not…the same—how do you know about human trafficking?”
I have also been watching the news.
“There was a story about human trafficking?” Eddie says, sitting up again. “Where, here?”
An orange-haired woman said that it was an international operation suspected to be infiltrating the Bay Area.
“Which orange-haired woman? Megan on channel six?”
Her name was Ian.
“That’s Ian Donald, on channel ten,” Eddie says. “He’s a man.”
I do not think so.
Eddie ignores this. “When did you see it? Is it still on?”
It was several hours ago. Then a round, bald man interrupted and waved his hands at blue and red arrows. He said that meant it would rain today.
“It rains every day,” Eddie says, hopping out of bed. He stops short, looking down at himself. “Whoa, what the fuck? Where are my clothes?”
In the dryer.
Eddie blinks. “You…you did laundry?”
Someone has to.
“Oh, you’re a real funny guy,” Eddie grouses, heading for the kitchen. “Anyone ever tell you that?”
Yes. I am very funny.
He grabs his phone and flicks through the news app till he finds the story, which he scans rapidly.
“Not enough here to go on,” he says. “I’m gonna make a phone call, so keep quiet.”
Eddie feels the other withdraw. A vague sense of emptiness that he couldn’t describe to anyone else if they paid him. Sometimes the other does this after he’s said something harsh to it. Sometimes Eddie doesn’t know why it has gone, but he feels the withdrawal more keenly every time it happens. He ignores it as best he can and dials his contact at the SFPD. With a little smooth talk, he finds out the traffickers are suspected to be part of a big-time New York crime syndicate, with ties to Bangkok. After making him promise on his mother’s life not to go snooping around like an idiot and get his head blown off, the detective hints at an old shipping area, then says she has to go. Eddie sets down the phone and goes to the bathroom to brush his teeth.
We know where the bad guys are.
“Maybe,” Eddie says, as he steps in front of the toilet. He suddenly finds himself oddly self-conscious. “You gonna watch me take a piss?”
Watch you do everything. Urination is an interesting biological function.
“Ok, just be quiet. Let me pretend I have some privacy once in a while.”
He winces, feeling the other withdraw again, and relieves himself hurriedly.
“Hey,” he says aloud, feeling incredibly stupid. “You there?”
“Yeah, I know. I was just…do you remember anything else about that human trafficking story?”
I remember everything about it. My mind is far more efficient than yours.
Eddie starts the shower, then steps under the steaming water and draws the curtain. “You want to tell me about it?”
You do not wish to pretend you have privacy?
“Huh? No. Why?”
You often masturbate in the shower.
“Not…often,” Eddie says, feeling his face flush with embarrassment. “And why are you watching me jerk off, anyway?”
The other is silent for a beat. Scientific curiosity.
“Ok, sure,” Eddie snorts. “Gay.”
I am not gay, you are gay! the other snarls, then it pauses. What is gay?
“Gay’s a dude who likes to watch other dudes jerk off.”
Ah. Then, yes. We are gay.
“No, you are,” Eddie laughs, working shampoo into his hair. “I’m not.”
Your computer contains photographs of men jerking off, Eddie.
Eddie freezes. “No, it—”
Many photographs. And videos.
“How the fuck do you know what’s on my computer? I didn’t give you my password.”
I know your passwords because you know them, Eddie. Keep up.
“Ow, fuck! I got shampoo in my fucking eyes,” Eddie growls, squeezing his eyes shut. “No more using my computer without asking!”
The other snakes out oily-black tendrils and takes hold of his jaw, moving his head into position under the spray to help him rinse out the offending lather.
“What?” he says irritably, still rubbing his stinging eyes.
You are very tense. We should jerk off.
“No, we’re not gonna jerk off. We’re getting out of the shower and getting dressed.”
Are you sure? You will feel better.
Eddie slams the knob with his fist to shut off the water, then steps out of the shower. Fuck. The towels are in the dryer.
“Hey, Venom…could you help me dry off?” he says sheepishly. “Like you did when I fell in that duck pond?”
The cool slick of the other’s body seeps out of his pores and ripples over his wet skin, encasing him from head to toe, till he is enveloped in it. He lets go of his muscles and sighs, surrendering gratefully to the soothing pressure. The feeling of being fully enclosed and held within the other. He feels them walking through the apartment, but he doesn’t have anything to do with it. He just lets the other do what it wants. At first, he’d hated to admit how good it felt, and had been hesitant to let the thing have control, but he’s been doing it more and more lately. Besides, fighting his other is a good way to get tossed into a brick wall with no symbiote skin to cushion him. Venom always heals his injuries right away, and he seems genuinely sorry about letting him get hurt, but sometimes…sometimes Eddie is still afraid of him. Deep down in the core of his being, where he hopes the other can’t go.
“Eddie,” he hears the other say aloud.
“Why do you call me Venom?”
That’s your name. Isn’t it?
“No. My species do not have names until we have bonded to a host. We are Venom.”
We picked a pretty cool name for ourselves. What am I supposed to call you, then?
“Hmmm,” the other rumbles. “How about…master.”
Ha! Never gonna happen.
Try again, slimeball.
“Slimeball is fairly accurate, but I think you mean it as an insult.”
I do not! It’s a…term of endearment.
“Ah, like when you call Annie’s cat shithead.”
Yeah, like that. And that cat is half mine, by the way.
“You should take your half.”
Gross. I am not taking half of the cat.
That would kill it. Earth animals are pretty touchy about being severed into pieces.
“One of the many weaknesses of your planet’s inhabitants. I can be severed into many pieces and not die.”
Well, I can’t. Just keep that in mind before we, like, jump into any wood chippers or anything.
“Why would we jump into a wood chipper?”
I dunno. Eddie gives a start, realizing that Venom has slid open the living room window and is pulling them through it. Hey, whoa, what are we doing?
“Food,” Venom says, climbing casually out onto the side of the building, like an enormous, oily spider. “We must eat soon.”
I’m naked under here!
“I know. I prefer this. Your garments are…itchy.”
“Yes. The fibers irritate my cellular membranes.”
Oh. Sorry, man. Why didn’t you say anything before?
“You have borne much discomfort for me. It seemed petty to complain.”
With that, they hold out an arm, ejecting a whipcord of glossy-black elastic matter, which attaches to the roof of the next building over. Eddie’s stomach flips as they plummet toward the street. Using the momentum of the fall, they swing back upward in an arc that narrowly misses a fire escape, and flings them into the air above another building. For a split second, they seem to hang weightless in midair, then gravity takes over and they hurtle down toward the rooftop, where they land on their feet, as easily as if it is nothing more than a stroll in the park.
I’ll never fuckin’ get used to that.
“You will. This means of travel is far more efficient than walking. Or taking the bus.”
I made you take the bus one time! It was pouring rain and we didn’t have the bike!
“I like rain. My planet does not have water that falls from the sky.”
See, I didn’t know that, or I would’ve let you take the rooftops home. I like rain, too.
Yeah. Most people think it’s weird, though.
I dunno. Probably because they like the sun and liking rain is different.
“People are idiots, Eddie.”
You can say that again.
“People are idiots, Eddie.”
Wow, you’re on a roll today. You thinking about taking your act on the road?
“We shall see. Need to get it down to a tight five and workshop it on the locals, first.”
Eddie bursts out laughing so hard that his body quakes inside the symbiote’s skin. As he gets his mirth under control, he feels the thing shifting oddly around him.
Hey, everything ok? What’s up?
“I…like when you laugh.”
Eddie’s stomach does a flip, the way it had when they were flying through the air a moment ago, which makes no sense, since they are standing perfectly still on a flat roof, now.
“Your heart rate has increased,” the other says helpfully.
Has it? I didn’t notice.
“I have decided that you may call me Venom. It is our name, but I have never had another.”
Good. It suits you. Plus it sounds badass as fuck.
“We are badass as fuck, Eddie,” Venom says, crouching on the edge of the building. “And we are going to eat some bad guys.”
They continue this way, swinging and leaping from rooftop to rooftop, till Eddie is sure he is going to vomit, and calls out for a rest.
“Almost there,” Venom says, taking one more fantastic leap and rolling like a gymnast, to stop at the edge of another rooftop. “Now we are here.”
Venom peels away from his face, and Eddie opens his eyes to find that they are looking down on what appears to be an abandoned building, adjoining the old shipyard. It is constructed of weathered brick, and the windows are the narrow, multi-paned type typically found in turn of the century architecture. Many have broken panes and some are covered inside with brown paper.
“Woods says the human traffickers operate from this area, but it’s full of scumbags. That’s gonna be like looking for a needle in a stack of needles.”
Venom takes over their arm and points down to a freight warehouse beside a disused loading dock.
“What? How do you know?”
“Who, the traffickers?”
The trafficked. Inside those metal boxes.
“They’re in the fuckin’ freight containers?” Eddie says, with a grimace. “Jesus Christ. That’s sick.”
Many sick, yes. Some dead. All young, human females.
“Ok, mask up—wait!” Eddie hisses, crouching quickly. “Who the fuck is that?”
Venom curls back over his face to employ his far superior vision. There, climbing down the fire escape of another dilapidated building across the street, is what appears to be a teenaged boy. They watch as he drops to the street, peers about, then slips into the alley, disappearing into deep shadows.
What the fuck is that kid doing here?
“Kid. Not a bad guy?”
I doubt it. If he was with them, why would he be sneaking around like that?
“I do not know.”
Probably meets his dealer around here or something. We can’t let him get involved and get hurt. We should go run him off before the shit hits the fan.
“Too late,” Venom says, looking toward the dock area again.
A light shines out across the wooden planks as a door opens. Men carrying assault rifles file out and disperse. Three take up positions around the perimeter, a few hang back near the door, and six of them head for the freight containers. Eddie catches a flash of movement in the corner of their eye, just as Venom whips their head around to look at it. Atop the building the teenaged boy had gone behind, there is a person in an absolutely absurd costume. Skin-tight, brilliant red and blue, and with enormous white eye-lenses over where the actual eyes would go.
Shit fucking fuck fuck. That’s fucking Spiderman.
“Who is Spiderman?”
A fucking Avenger. If the Avengers are here, we’re not going anywhere near this fight. I’m not getting our ass handed to us by Captain America.
“The Avengers are not sanctioned to operate in the Bay Area,” Venom informs him. “This one is breaking the law. And he appears to be alone.”
Yeah, appears to be.
“We are hungry, Eddie.”
I know, V, and we’re gonna eat, I promise. But this might not be our table. Let’s hang back a minute and see what happens.
Eddie feels Venom huff with frustration, but he sits still and keeps their eyes on the Spiderman. They watch as he swings silently to the roof above the traffickers, then glides down a web behind two of them, who he deftly grabs and sets swinging on strands of web. Of course, they raise a stink, and of course, the place lights up.
We should help. Venom says this in Eddie’s head, to be heard above the rattling pop of gunfire. No one else is coming.
I think he can probably—shit he’s in trouble. He doesn’t see the guy behind him with the…cannon? What is that thing?
It delivers extremely high-powered electric shocks. One was tried on us, remember?
No. Did it work?
Then we’re goin’ in.
Venom does not wait to be told twice. He leaps off the rooftop, using a whip of black webbing to propel them across the street. They swing directly into the man with the shock-cannon, a fraction of a second too late to prevent him shooting Spiderman, who drops like a rock. Eddie’s heart stops. Or would, if he was controlling it.
Oh fuck, did he just kill Spiderman? Is Spiderman dead?
Venom is not listening. Bullets patter across his hide as his mouth full of razorblades opens to tear the head from the former wielder of the shock-cannon. Blood gushes over them in a hot flood and Eddie lets go. He has to. If he’s too present during this part, he gets nightmares and flashbacks. He feels them tear through the remainder of the men that Spiderman had not subdued, bullets bouncing harmlessly from their symbiote skin, until the screams stop. He reemerges in the eerie silence, to find them kneeling over the masked Avenger.
“He is very small up close,” Venom says. “Small, but alive.”
The cannon knocked him out cold, though. They must’ve been expecting him.
“Would have killed other humans. He is strong. Very strong.”
Venom reaches for his mask, but Eddie stops him.
No, we don’t do that.
It’s a superhero thing. Respecting each other’s private identities and all that.
Venom stands up and turns toward the freight containers, from which faint wails and thumping on the metal can be heard.
“We must release the human females from the boxes. Some were struck by bullets and need medical attention.”
Yeah, go go go. Spidey’ll be fine where he is for a minute. Take your face off, though. You’ll scare them shitless and they might go into shock.
Venom peels back the mask of his face as they bound across the yard. They unhook the bar on the first container and swing the door open. Eddie nearly retches from the stench, and is glad he doesn’t actually have to breathe, which he stops doing immediately. He smiles as best he can and beckons to the crate’s inhabitants, backing away to show he means them no harm. Dazed and filthy, clinging to each other, women begin to emerge on unsteady feet. They are rail thin and wasted away, wearing grimy tatters of what were once summer clothes. Out in the open, Eddie takes a breath so he can speak.
“English?” he calls to the group. “Anyone speak English?”
A woman in red shorts and what had been a yellow t-shirt raises her hand feebly, and he goes over to her.
“What’s your name, sweetheart?” he asks gently.
“Koh—Kohsoom,” she answers, in a heartbreakingly cracked voice.
“I’m Eddie. I’m here to help you, Kohsoom. Any of you shot?”
“Two. Still in there,” she says haltingly. “Lamai is with them.”
“Ok, good,” he says. “Don’t be scared. Ambulances will come soon and get you all to the hospital. I’m gonna go bring out anyone who can’t walk. Can you do something for me?”
“I need you to make sure the girls don’t run away. Tell them help is coming. They’re going to get medical attention and showers and food, ok?”
“Ok, Eddie,” Kohsoom says, nodding bravely.
She goes to where the group are gathered and speaks to them in Thai. Venom goes back into the container. Eddie remembers to hold his breath in time, and he soon emerges carrying the two wounded women, followed by the one called Lamai. He lays them down as gently as possible and hurries to the second container, with Kohsoom in tow, so she can ask about wounded and explain the situation. None of the women from the second container have been shot, and in a few minutes, they have joined the others in the yard, huddling close together in the cold, rainy night.
“Ok, V,” Eddie says, turning back toward the containers. “Mask time. We gotta go check for survivors in there with the dead ones.”
Venom’s face encloses his, and they enter the first container again.
“None alive,” Venom says. “Five dead.”
They are just entering the second container, when something like a springy wire coils around their neck and whips them back across the yard. Venom rights them in the air, and they hit the building with their feet. They leap down, tearing the web away.
“We are on your side!” Venom roars, at the now apparently conscious Spiderman. “We saved your life!”
“Sure you did, buddy,” Spiderman replies. “And I have a line on some beachside property in Nevada, if you’re interested.”
He flicks his wrist, and a wad of webbing spins toward their face. They sidestep it and bound forward, knocking him to the ground and pinning him.
“We are not lying,” Venom snarls, bristling with indignation. “The bad guys stunned you with a shock-cannon. We dealt with them and freed the prisoners. We are heroes.”
“Oh yeah? Well I see at least six guys who are a head short,” Spiderman grunts, struggling against them. “Heroes don’t tear people’s heads off. You’re a monster.”
Eddie feels Venom hesitate, as if taken aback, slightly loosening his grip on Spiderman. Unfortunately, Spiderman feels it too. He uses the moment to writhe free like a snake, and send them sprawling with an elbow to their face. They stagger and he sweeps their leg, delivering another powerful kick to their ribcage.
“We must fight him, Eddie!” Venom growls, trying to wrest control away and get to their feet.
Eddie just barely holds him back, using all the will he can muster to keep them on all fours. No! He’s a good guy! We can’t hurt him!
Spiderman aims another kick, but suddenly, they find themselves surrounded by the women from the crates, who have run over and are crowding around, placing themselves between Venom and Spiderman. Spiderman tries to step through them, but they lock arms and begin shouting at him in their native language. Kohsoom kneels down behind the other women and puts her tiny hand on Venom’s massive, slick-black arm.
“Are you ok, Eddie?” she asks, looking fearlessly into the monstrous face. “That man hurt you?”
“We are ok,” Venom answers. “The Spiderman is good. He will help you. But he does not understand that we are friends. That is why he wants to hurt us.”
“You go,” she says. “We distract him.”
Venom does not smile, since his smile is utterly horrifying to humans, but it shows in his voice. “Thank you, Kohsoom. You are a hero. We wish you long life and much to eat.”
Kohsoom smiles, then stands up and shouts something above the din. The women crowd forward, grabbing and pulling at Spiderman. Keeping low, Venom darts away across the shipyard into the night, a shadow vanishing among shadows.
As they make their way home, the other is strangely silent. Not withdrawn—he does not do that when he is in control of their body—but quiet. Pensive. Eddie thinks he knows what it’s about.
He’s wrong about us, you know. We are heroes.
“I know, Eddie,” Venom says. “Even heroes need to eat.”
You’re being quiet. Something wrong?
Ok. Good talk.
They are silent the rest of the way home, and as soon as they climb in the window, Venom peels himself away and retreats inside, leaving Eddie naked, but for a few black tendrils coiling lazily around his thigh and arm, and across his chest. Eddie falls into bed and picks up the remote, switching on the TV and changing to a news channel.
More of the tendrils creep over his chest and curl about his waist. Venom’s head solidifies and nuzzles into his neck, like an affectionate cat. Eddie pets him absently as he watches the breaking news broadcast regarding the daring escape of a group of kidnapped Thai women, who managed to break free of their abductors and contact the police. Eight bodies were found in the freight containers where the women were being held, but the twenty-two who survived are in stable condition. They are being cared for in the US till they have recovered enough to return to their families back home.
“Everything but the facts,” Eddie says, with a bitter laugh. “At least that smart-mouthed web-slinger didn’t get credit for it either.”
Venom lifts his black head and looks into Eddie’s face. As he does, a tendril reaches over and taps the button on the remote to shut off the TV.
“What?” Eddie says uneasily. “You, uh. You look like you’re gonna eat me.”
You do not trust me. Venom flicks his long tongue out to lap Eddie’s face. You are still afraid.
“No, I’m not. I trust you.”
Eddie can feel more of the tendrils wrapping around him, quickly building bulk, the weight of which presses on his chest and stomach. Some of them coil about his wrists, pushing them down to pin them above his head. His heart pounds, but he keeps his eyes on Venom’s and doesn’t resist.
“I trust you with my life,” he says. “Our life.”
Your heart rate has increased again. You are afraid.
“That’s not the, uh…that’s not fear,” Eddie says. “It’s similar, though.”
Venom contemplates this for a moment. Sexual arousal. I feel it. Your pupils have dilated, as well.
Eddie’s cheeks flush rosy pink “Well, we just had a big adrenaline rush in that fight, and now you’re rubbing all over me. I can’t control my body’s automatic responses.”
Venom’s mouth splits into a demonic grin. You wish to mate with me. Gay.
“You’re gay,” Eddie says breathlessly. “Come here and kiss me.”
Do not know how.
“I’ll show you.”
The tendrils relax to let him move freely, but they remain coiled about his wrists. Eddie reaches up and lays his hands on Venom’s face, pulling him close. Venom draws his mouth down to cover his razorblade fangs and more nearly match the size of Eddie’s. Eddie presses his lips to the slick-black surface, laving his tongue over the slit of Venom’s mouth. Venom lets it open a little more and snakes his tongue cautiously forward, till it touches Eddie’s.
He feels Eddie’s heart rate increase further, and a wave of pleasure endorphins washes over him. He lets out a low growl, almost a purr, and pushes his tongue into Eddie’s hot mouth. Their tongues roll and coil around each other, as his body mass builds into a full torso, pressed against Eddie’s. Eddie wraps his arms around him and keeps kissing him, flooding him with intoxicating pleasure chemicals.
I like kiss. Feels good.
Eddie pulls back and laughs. “I like it, too.”
We can do more things that feel good. I have been studying your anatomy.
Eddie gives a soft moan as a black tendril curls around the shaft of his very erect cock. Venom takes this as a positive sign and wraps it around a few more times, squeezing and moving the coil up and down the shaft.
“So—so good,” Eddie stammers. “Don’t stop.”
The lower part of Venom’s body begins to solidify, with one extremely notable difference. Eddie stares at this new appendage, jutting out thick and rigid from the black slick of the pelvic area.
“Holy fuck,” he says. “You want to put that thing in me?”
Want to, yes. Want you, Eddie. Like hunger, but not to eat you. To mate, like humans do.
“Might have to work up to it. You’ll tear me apart if you’re not careful.”
I will be careful. Do not want to hurt Eddie.
“I trust you,” Eddie says, looking into his opalescent eyes.
Venom pushes Eddie’s legs apart, lifting them to tilt his ass upward. His oversized male appendage tapers, and the end lengthens into a thinner tendril. Eddie gasps as it presses against his tight hole and slips inside.
Want to possess you. Make you mine. Only mine.
As Venom is saying this, the tendril is slowly thickening inside Eddie, beginning to fill and stretch him. Eddie squeezes his eyes shut and groans through his clenched teeth. The thickening halts.
“No, I—just give me a minute. Gotta get used to it.”
Venom waits, stroking Eddie’s cock and snaking tendrils around his thighs.
“More. I’m ready.”
The black tendril inside him thickens and solidifies further, till Eddie is almost sure it’ll split him in half.
“Enough,” he pants. “Fuck me now. Fuck me.”
Venom slides the thick, slick shaft out and thrusts it slowly back in to the hilt. Eddie groans and arches his back. Venom continues to thrust, in deep, steady strokes. Eddie gives a little gasp each time the tendril thrums over his prostate. There is sensation in Venom’s membranous skin, but he mostly feels the intense pleasure through Eddie, altering his tempo and angle according to his physical responses. He leans down to press himself into Eddie’s chest. Eddie opens his mouth. Venom snakes his long tongue inside and curls it around Eddie’s as he fucks him.
He feels Eddie’s climax like an atom-bomb of pleasure endorphins, a shockwave washing over them both as his hot hole clamps down and spasms around the tendril dick. Eddie’s cock convulses at the same time, spewing white fluid out in bursts between them, as Venom has seen it do in the shower when he jerks off. To his astonishment, something like the same sensation echoes in him, shuddering through his entire mass, as if he’s experienced sexual climax, which should not be possible for his species. He collapses onto Eddie’s body like melted gummy candy, partially desolidified and entirely short-circuited with bliss.
Better than food.
“Way better, babe,” Eddie laughs, in a weary, fucked-out voice.
What is babe?
“A term of endearment.”
“No, like…you say it to someone who just fucked your brains out.”
Your brain is intact. I am attached to it. Taste all the good chemicals.
“Ok, but don’t actually eat it. We need my brain to live.”
Never eat you, Eddie. Keep you safe. Love you.
“I…I love you, too.”
We are still badass as fuck.
“Of course we are. We’re Venom.”