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That first time, they're at a bar and Eddie is nursing a warm beer.

"I hate beer," Venom says.

"I know," Eddie says. "But I like it. We talked about this, remember? It's called compromising."

He talks into his beer with his head down. He's trying to get better at being inconspicuous in public while talking to Venom, otherwise people are going to start thinking he's absolutely lost it, which might actually be true. But they don't need to know that. Luckily, the bartender is distracted, and most everyone is drunk, or otherwise engaged, the bar smoky and dully lit.

"Fine," Venom says, and launches into a very graphic description about how they're going to eat an entire cow later.

Eddie is so distracted by just how much Venom knows about bovine anatomy that he doesn't notice the woman until she's right next to him. Venom goes quiet so abruptly that Eddie suddenly feels the world is too loud.

"Hi there," the woman says, and smiles.

Eddie realizes immediately that she's attracted to him, wants to hit on him, and is flattered. Flattered, but uninterested, for a variety of reasons. He barely gets the chance to even think that before he feels a quick heat in him, not desire but something else, something odd and dangerous. It flares and then is gone, like the spark of a lighter. Eddie presses his fist to his stomach.

"I want to eat now," Venom says, suddenly vocal again.

The woman is looking at him and Eddie realizes that he hasn't said anything to her.

"Sorry," he says to the woman. "I was just on my way out."

He pulls cash from his wallet and leaves it on the bar top, feels Venom moving his legs faster to get them out, out into the night.

--

They haven't talked about the kiss. They might never talk about the kiss. The one with Venom's tongue down his throat. In the forest. When he grabbed Eddie close and swam down Eddie's body through his mouth, literally breathed his way into him. Eddie felt like his own body had reached for Venom, tried to hold on, and he wanted all of it before he even knew who was underneath.

That kiss.

Instead they do other things, like argue about what they're going to eat when they're not eating bad people. Or pretend like they aren't still bonded around Anne. It's been almost two months, and they have a routine now, kind of like roommates. Or partners, is what Mrs. Chen says. She's the only person who knows. Eddie and Venom stop into her store a few nights a week to pick food up and check in on her, though she hasn't been bothered since they ate the gang member who'd been extorting money from her.

Eddie pushes the door to her shop open, hears the familiar ting of the bell, and lets Venom walk them to the frozen foods section.

"Eddie," Mrs. Chen says. "How's your parasite?"

"He's good."

"Tell her I'm not a parasite."

"He says hello."

"Eddie."

Eddie opens the freezer door.

"This is the last time we're getting tots, man, my arteries are going to clog."

"I won't let that happen," Venom says.

Eddie adjusts his grip on the freezer door. Venom is good about staying out of his thoughts now, but sometimes Eddie wishes he could get into his. He isn't very good at talking about his feelings. Or anyone's feelings. Eddie grabs the bag of frozen tater tots from the freezer. Then a pre-packaged sandwich for himself. Mrs. Chen rings them up and is delighted when it's Venom who hands her the money after having yanked Eddie's wallet from his back pocket. He forms a little hand and Mrs. Chen takes the cash. Then she deposits the change into it. Venom sinks back into Eddie, wallet in place.

"Bye, Venom," Mrs. Chen says. "Be good to him, Eddie."

"Me?" Eddie says. "He's living in my body."

"That's what I mean," she says, and slams the register shut.

Later into the night, Eddie is working on his laptop and Venom tells him that it's time for bed.

"It's barely two am. Also, I'm trying to investigate this guy and his buddies for sex trafficking. I'm trying to feed your hungry ass."

"But you are tired," Venom says.

Eddie hears Venom attach himself to the bed and grabs hold of the coffee table uselessly.

"No," he says. "Dammit, Venom, just give me ten more minutes—"

Venom yanks them back onto the bed and Eddie's body bounces a few times, then stills. They do this sometimes, have this fight when Eddie stays up too late, and it always ends with Venom forcing him into bed. Eddie's never going to win the fight, he knows, but he still likes putting one up. Venom stretches out of his body now and looks down at him.

"You're going to sleep now," he says.

He's so close to him, Eddie thinks, that if either one of them moved the slightest bit they'd be kissing. If they wanted that. Eddie exhales.

"At least shut the light off, asshole."

The room switches into darkness and Eddie thinks that there's probably no reason to talk about the kiss.

--

The second time, they're on the streetcar, headed down Market Street. Eddie is on his way to meet Anne and Dan. He continues to do this for reasons he doesn't quite understand, because it's never not a little bit awkward, especially when Venom starts talking to him halfway through. Eddie is pretty sure he's going to reach out and strangle Dan one of these days. Poor guy. Eddie actually likes him. The car is crowded with weekend tourists, so Eddie is standing shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of other people. Someone shoves by to get off and Eddie is pushed into a businessman, who steadies both of them with a hand on Eddie's waist.

"You all right?" the guy asks, and Eddie's body goes hot.

He goes so hot he thinks the businessman can feel it, because he pulls his hand away fast and looks kind of alarmed. Eddie blinks, also alarmed.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he says. "Sorry."

He steps off the car just as it starts moving again, nearly trips until Venom rights them both. Eddie shoves his hands into the pockets of his jacket and swears.

"Jesus," he says. "What the hell was that? I think you almost melted a guy's hand off."

A woman passing by with her child stares sideways at him and Eddie swears again. He forgets, sometimes. He's still trying to get the hang of this. He cuts up the alley and pokes at his temple with his forefinger.

"Hey, I'm talking to you."

"Too crowded," Venom says.

"You're the one who wanted to take a slow ride and see the city," Eddie says, and throws his hands up. "Weirdo."

"I could get us a great view if you'd let me take you up."

"No way." Eddie cuts left and away from the buildings. "I'll call a Lyft."

--

Sometimes he dreams about the moment he died. Not often, but occasionally he feels the phantom pressure in his sternum, looks down and sees it there, the blade of Riot's axe through his body, then darkness. Tonight wakes up sweating, unable to catch his breath. Eddie pulls his shirt off and touches his chest, looks. He's whole. Alive. He exhales. Venom ripples gently through his body.

Eddie turns the covers aside and goes over to the fridge for a glass of water, wiggles his toes on the hardwood. He drinks the whole glass down, then says, "So do you see my dreams?"

"Yes."

"Of course you do."

Eddie puts the glass in the sink and gets back into bed, annoyed for no reason and still shaken. Venom remains silent and Eddie thinks he may have actually, truly, hurt his feelings. It's not like Venom can help it, seeing his dreams. Eddie agreed to this. He wants this. When Venom came crawling out of the Bay, when Eddie saw him, his eyes stung and he felt something loosen in him. Eddie reached for him and that was it. He's not looking for Venom to go anywhere else. Eddie pulls the covers up over his shoulders and sighs.

"Hey, big guy," he says. "I'm not mad at you. Just still getting used to some stuff, is all."

"It's my least favorite dream to watch," Venom says.

Eddie nods into his pillow.

Later, Eddie wakes to something squeezing him, gently, like he's so wrapped up in the covers he'll never be cold again. He doesn't even open his eyes. He just burrows in and goes back to sleep.

--

The third time, they're meeting Eddie's old college buddy Joe for a drink. This is another "me" thing, not a "we" thing, Eddie had told him. They take the bike out downtown and Eddie hasn't seen Joe in years, not since he was run out of New York. Joe's in town with his family, but tonight it's just them at an upscale bar for a few beers (Eddie promised Venom not more than one). Joe is waiting for him outside in a black sweater, beard trimmed neat.

"Holy shit, Brock," he says. "You look good."

Eddie does look good. He's wearing his nice leather jacket tonight, well-fitting jeans, just trimmed his hair. Joe smiles at him. They hug tight and head inside. That's when Eddie sees there's about six other people from his old reporting job inside.

"What the fuck," he says, and Joe hugs him again.

"Surprise, dude. A bunch of us came into town."

Eddie scrubs his hands over his face and smiles. He hasn't seen any of this people in ages. He's hugged and kissed on the cheek multiple times before he can even sit down. Appetizers and drinks are ordered. The reminiscing is fun, it's sad, it's strange. Before he left New York, he'd practically run that city, in terms of journalism. And when he left he basically cut ties with everyone. It felt better to just get a fresh start with Anne. He sort of regrets that now.

"I remember when you came in as an intern," Sarah says. "You were so cute and stupid."

"I'm still cute and stupid," Eddie tells her.

He keeps his promise of just one beer, especially since he's driving, and watches everyone else get pleasantly drunk. Joe starts recounting all the stupid shit they did in college and Eddie's ears burn red the rest of the night. Venom stays still in him, very still. He's on his best behavior, which Eddie actually finds a little odd, but he's so happy he brushes the thought away.

Everyone filters out eventually, picked up by spouses or rideshares. Eddie fits his helmet on and starts his bike up so he and Venom can head home. It's late but he's still wired. He wants to talk to Venom, actually. He missed not having him around tonight. That's the weird thing, about keeping this secret. He can't exactly introduce Venom to his old friends, or to anyone, really. But Venom stays quiet up until the moment Eddie is parking his bike. Then he speaks, and his voice is so deep Eddie can feel it in his gut.

"We looked good tonight, Eddie."

Eddie laughs.

"Hell yeah, we did," he says. "Still got it."

Eddie pulls his helmet off and musses his hair. Venom keeps offering to actually be his helmet, but Eddie still likes the security of the real one. He starts up the stairs to the apartment.

"I like it when we look good," Venom says.

"Oh…" Eddie pauses on a stair. He feels something stir in his chest, not quite anxiety. Venom's never talked like this before. "Yeah?" he says.

"Yes."

Something in Eddie tells him to move faster. He gets to their floor and his hands are shaking to fit the key into the lock, to turn the knob. Venom's voice is thick in his head.

"Everyone looks at you," he says. "Their eyes follow you. Devour you."

Eddie slams the door shut and leans back against it. It's harder to breathe, suddenly, and he's too warm under his jacket. Venom is inching in tendrils out from under his collar, he can feel it, the tickle of him.

"But I know," Venom says, one tendril curling over the shell of his ear and Eddie tries to ask what at the same time that Venom forms next to him, one large hand tilting his head up. Venom's tongue lolls from his mouth and twists around the back of Eddie's neck and licks up his cheek, this strange little kiss and he honestly has no idea if he's breathing or not.

"You still belong to me," Venom says.

Eddie has no idea where this is coming from. He can't think. He just recognizes the heavy feeling of desire in his pelvis, how he's already half-hard. Recognizes that he's been waiting for this moment. Eddie hadn't known until just now, how long he'd been waiting for it. Venom's hand is still on his neck, this huge, black thing, but he doesn't move it. He doesn't move Eddie at all. He waits. Eddie swallows and finally feels in control of himself enough to shucks his leather jacket off. It sounds heavy when it hits the floor.

"Go into my thoughts," he says. "Do it."

And there can be no mystery, he thinks, after that. Venom makes a low noise in his mouth, like a growl, then he's walking Eddie towards the kitchen table and Eddie just collapses onto it. Eddie pulls his own shirt off, already too hot, already wanting as much contact as possible, when Venom flattens him against the table with his hand, his breath fogging up the wood.

"Eddie," he says, like he's in awe of him, like he's going to eat him whole.

Eddie's cock twitches in his jeans.

"I can smell how much you want me," Venom says.

"Oh fuck," says Eddie.

Venom pulls his pants and underwear down all at once. It's not cold because Venom is on him immediately, over him like a body and yet parts of him, tentacles of him, really, are wrapping themselves around Eddie's legs, going up over his arms just to touch him. Like it's not enough to be inside him. Like he has to be all over. Venom's large hands move slowly down his back, over the globes of his ass, and for a moment Eddie is terrified he's just going to tear him apart. Then he feels something small work its way near his hole, something else curl up around his cock. Eddie's chest swells.

"What is that?"

"It's me," Venom says. "It's all me."

The small tentacle pushes inside and Eddie pushes back on instinct. It feels strange, but good. Two other tentacles are playing with his balls, moving up and down his cock. Eddie is afraid that he's going to come way too soon. There's gentle pressure on the head of his cock.

"Not until I tell you," Venom says.

Eddie nods, teeth tucked into his lip.

"Uh-huh," he says.

Another small tentacle fucks into him, and the two stretch him, gently, but they kiss so deep that Eddie spasms, feels his cock spit pre-come. He slams his fist against the table.

"It's too much," Eddie says. "I'm gonna come."

"Not before I fuck you," Venom says, and Eddie moans.

"Please," he says. "What the hell are we waiting for?"

Venom laughs and slides them over to the couch, which is good, because Eddie thinks he's going to need more leverage for what's about to happen. Venom's two tentacles are still moving inside him, just enough to be the worst kind of tease. Eddie digs his fingers into the cushions and breathes through it, on his hands and knees, Venom's hands holding his hips tightly.

"Touch yourself," he says. "Feel it."

Eddie does. He reaches behind and presses a shaking finger against his hole. It slides in so easily alongside Venom's tentacles. They curl around his finger and guide him. Eddie's eyes flutter shut and he pushes his hips back and up. It feels amazing. Not quite so frantic, but no less arousing. Eddie could fuck himself like this for hours, only he wants more. The tentacles push his finger out, leave him empty a moment. Eddie's head droops down towards the cushions.

"Venom," he says, more a slur than anything.

He gets no warming before Venom's tongue licks a hot stripe up his hole, then pushes in. Eddie screams. All he can do is push into it, ass in the air, half-aware of the whimpers that keep sticking in his throat. Venom's tongue twists deep, licks the walls of him, moves so fast it's hard to focus on any sensation at once and so Eddie just lets himself be taken by it. Every time he thinks Venom might go too deep, he curls back, pulls all the way out and licks gently at the furl of Eddie's hole.

"Fuck," Eddie says, gasping. "Fuck you, man. When are we going—"

He turns and Venom is behind him, half-formed. There's enough of him for a head, torso, one arm, and a cock. He's formed himself a cock. Eddie swallows.

"Come here," Venom says. "Sit on it."

Eddie barely has to, because Venom pulls him over. They ease Eddie onto him together, Eddie's back to Venom's front. He's loose enough that it doesn't take much work at all. Then Venom takes that first initial thrust and Eddie grabs onto the back of the couch nearly passes out.

"Fuck," he says. "Oh god, oh god."

"Too much?"

Eddie shakes his head frantically. It's too much and not enough. Venom is huge inside him and Eddie knows that he can get bigger and hopes that he will. The force of his thrusts send a wave of pleasure so deep into Eddie that it travels up to his teeth. He's afraid he'll shake out of his skin. Venom is inside of him, and now inside of him, fucking him while Eddie sits on his cock. It's not long before Eddie can't hold himself up anymore. He falls forward onto his hands and knees and Venom fucks him like that, brutally fast and Eddie takes it for all that he can, his whole body slutty for it. For a brief, coherent second, he wonders what the hell took them so long to get here. 

"You're tight, Eddie. I like it." 

Eddie laughs, delirious and happy.   

"Don't stop," he says.

Venom doesn't, for a time. Just learns what makes Eddie moan the loudest, what makes him beg for more. Then, just as Eddie thinks he's about to go over the edge, Venom pulls out and flips Eddie onto his back.

"Oh, are you—" is all Eddie gets out before Venom fucks back into him, then it dissolves into, "God, yes."

Venom holds his thighs open so wide that the stretch is a little painful, humiliating in a way Eddie actually finds arousing. He can see Venom's cock this way, this tentacle he's shaped for Eddie, working in and out of him. Eddie licks his swollen lips quickly.

"Bigger," he says.

"You don't want bigger."

"I do," Eddie says. "You know I do. Make your cock bigger, fuck me harder. Come on, big guy."

That's all it takes. Suddenly Eddie feels like there's air being pushed inside his hole, and the fullness is so much he chokes on nothing, muscles tensing. He actually gives himself a headache but it's good, god, it feels so good. Venom is thicker inside him now, and Eddie is so full up he doesn't mind what happens after this. He just needs to come. His whole body is aching for it. Venom pushes deeper into him, angles himself closer to Eddie's face.

"You're mine," he says.

Eddie nods, hysterical, eyes squeezed shut.

"Yours," he says. "Yours, I'm yours."

He feels this heat in him, and it's not arousal, or impending orgasm. It's the same feeling from when he was in the bar last week, and on the streetcar the other day. It clicks into Eddie's brain as jealousy so clearly and so absurdly that Eddie suddenly feels like crying. He opens his eyes and can't see Venom's face anymore. Eddie twists his head around, frantic. Tendrils are reaching up over his nipples, one of his weakest spots, and Eddie thinks he might come untouched for the first time in his life. He feels strangely terrified.

"Venom," he says, voice cracked.

Venom finally comes into view again, a relief. Seeing Venom is always like that.

"Kiss me," Eddie says.

Venom does, and it is like in forest, except there's no Anne underneath. Just them. Just Venom inside him, tonguing him, Eddie drooling around it and loving every minute of it, understanding nothing and everything all at once. Venom pulls back from the kiss and licks up his jawline, tongues his nipples. Eddie's toes curl.

"Venom," he says. "Fuck, I'm—please let me—"

"I know. Let me feel it."

Eddie arches impossibly when it happens, the act of it so devastatingly good he doesn't know if it's ever going to end. Eddie falls back against the couch, blinks, and is in bed. He sits up and is immediately pulled back down again.

"Hey—"

"We're resting now."

"How did we get to the bed?" Eddie asks, staring at the ceiling. "When did that happen?"

A pause.

"You passed out," Venom says.

Eddie blinks and drums his fingers against his chest.

"No I didn't."

"You absolutely—"

"You get jealous," Eddie says.

He rolls to his side, props himself up on one elbow, and waits. Venom eventually slithers out, a long neck and teeth and eyes and head. Eddie smiles at him, very fucked out and also very endeared with him. Venom being possessive is hot. Venom being jealous is different. It's cute.

"Because I'm yours," Eddie adds, before Venom can get all petulant and offended. "And I am, you know. And you're mine."

Eddie's ears prick hot and he has to look elsewhere, the bed, the floor, the ceiling, though his gaze keeps coming back to Venom, who's probably never had to talk about a feeling ever in his life, which would explain why he's just hovering there looking stunned. Eddie lifts a hand up, open palm, and Venom returns the gesture with loose tendrils weaving in and out of Eddie's fingers. Eddie plucks at the tendrils as if they're stringed instruments.

"In the forest," Eddie says. "You know, when you were in Anne. Was that kiss you or her?"

"That was me," Venom says.

Eddie nods. He tries to catch a tendril between his thumb and forefinger but it just blends back into his body.

"I wanted it to be you," he says.

"Eddie."

Eddie grabs Venom's face before he can do anything and kisses him, neat and quick. He holds on, though, since he's got Venom's attention, and the upper hand for the one and probably and only time.

"You don't have to get jealous, trust me." Eddie lay back on the bed, still holding onto Venom, who follows. "I didn't mind tonight, though. The, uh, possessive sex. That was…" Eddie trails off, nodding.

Venom forms all around him on the bed, all over him, and smiles.

"Don't worry, Eddie," he says. "I know what you like."

He licks the dip of Eddie's sternum and Eddie feels his cock twitch. There goes his upper hand. Venom pulls back and folds the covers over Eddie, then himself, head tucked close to Eddie's own. Eddie closes his eyes, exhausted again, comforted by the heat of Venom behind him.

"What do you like?" he asks, voice sleep heavy now.

"I like Eddie," Venom says.

The tips of Eddie's ears burn again, and he reaches back to touch Venom. He's never quite been able to figure out what Venom feels like—not quite dry, not quite wet—he just likes how he feels. Eddie strokes the strangeness of him, not strange at all to him anymore.

"You are mine," Venom says.

Eddie smiles, halfway to sleep.

"I know," he says, and drifts off.