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The start of the whole mess is this crappy made-for-TV rom com that they’re watching on a Saturday night while Eddie is bone tired but too wired to sleep, and Venom is mostly full on an entire three-tier chocolate cake. He’s not sure what the exact plot is, having tuned in halfway through - something about fake dating and a wedding - but whatever, both leads are blandly attractive and it’s mindlessly entertaining even though the ending is obvious from a mile away.

The love interest has just shown up on the protagonist’s doorstep, completely soaked through with rain and wearing a soulfully contrite expression on his handsome face. Eddie briefly tries to mimic his sad take-me-back smile, wondering if it would’ve worked on Anne, then feels immediately embarrassed, shaking his head when Venom sends an inquisitive hum his way. Mr. Handsome Love Interest holds out a sodden bouquet to Lovely Protagonist, making some kind of quip to sum up the parade of ridiculous obstacles he just went through to get here. The flowers look, to be honest, pretty nasty, but Lovely Protagonist accepts it with a sigh and a smile anyway.

Why is he giving her wet vegetation, Venom asks from inside Eddie’s head. Sometimes they like to come out in the open when they’re at home, draped around Eddie’s neck like a really tacky scarf or splayed out in a blob along his body for easy access to pats. Eddie first started petting them by accident, as a holdover from his days with Mr. Belvedere, and then he felt sort of awkward about it until he felt a flash of pleasure at the touch that he knew hadn’t come from himself. Tonight they’re staying in, thrumming comfortably under Eddie’s skin like rainfall on the pavement.

“People like flowers,” Eddie says with a shrug. He takes another sip of his water. “Annie wasn’t super into them, but we’d get some for the dining room sometimes.”

They are soggy! Disgusting.

“She’s not going to eat them, buddy. She’s- look, they go in the vase. To look pretty and shit.”

Venom is unimpressed. And she’s satisfied with this gift? Pathetic.

“It’s usually not so bad. Most bouquets aren’t sopping wet when you get them. Anyway, it’s just a way of showing that he cares- that he was trying to do something nice for her.”

Why doesn’t he just tell her?

Eddie hums as he muses this over. “I mean, probably because this is a dumb movie with a bad plot. But some people think actions speak louder than words. Anyone can just say ‘I love you.’ Sometimes you have to show them with the things you do for them to really believe you.” Eddie’s always been a words kind of guy, but it had also been nice when Anne or his other exes expressed themselves through a different love language.

Interesting, is what Venom says, but their tone is unusually curious. He can feel them carding through his memories for more information.

The main characters are now sharing a passionate kiss, because whatever stupid misunderstanding that came between them has been magically resolved in the four seconds Eddie wasn’t paying attention.

Ah. This is much better, Venom says, pleased by the couple still kissing as the camera spins dramatically around them another time.

“This is what you’re into? Kissing?” Eddie asks, half-amused and half-concerned, because what if Venom wants to go out experimenting? Eddie’s already grown way too used to the idea of his body now being their body, allowing his symbiote to take the wheel when necessary or convenient, but if Venom gets it into their mind to go test drive the San Francisco dating scene using Eddie’s body, they’ll have to lay down some ground rules.

It was more fun for you than me, Venom says, sounding smug, though I could grow used to it.

“It was more- oh. Right.” It had been pretty fun for Eddie, all the adrenaline and terror from almost getting murdered in the woods notwithstanding. He’d like to think it was mostly because of Anne, but deep down inside (hopefully somewhere that Venom can’t see), he’ll admit that it was maybe 60% Annie and 40% Venom. 58/42. 50/50?

Anyhow. “Well, if you want to go out trying it again, just warn me first, okay? It’s my body too. I should get a say in who we make out with.”

Don’t be stupid. I have no interest in anyone but you.

Oh. Eddie finds himself flushing at that, because even if it’s just his special alien parasite that literally needs him to stay alive saying so, it’s still nice to hear. Maybe because it’s his special alien parasite saying so. The thought of Venom leaving him again, of finding a superior host - it almost makes Eddie feel physically ill. It’s beyond the heartbreak he suffered when he drove Anne away. Their separation outside the Life Foundation had put him in a bad way, sending him into a spiral of guilt curtailed only by Anne’s persistent support and the media storm sweeping up around him at the time. He and Venom had only been joined for a few days at most at that point. Now, after months of living in and around each other, he knows he’d be pretty irreparably fucked if they were separated again.

Theirs is not a normal relationship; in some ways, it’s so much more. Eddie’s always hated being alone, always felt empty and lesser and drained without someone else around. And now there’s always someone around, who knows him inside and out, and who will never leave. (It’s possible that Eddie might have some hangups about that. Maybe.) Being with Venom is a learning experience, one that’s worth it even if it ends in pain and trouble once in a while.

What they have is almost perfect. Probably a little weird and bordering on codependent, but it works for them. It’s just...Eddie misses being in love. He misses having someone who loves him.

Venom cares about him, he knows that much. He can feel it threaded through every cell that Venom considers him irreplaceable, and more sentimentally, precious even. It’s more than anyone has ever felt for Eddie before, and honestly, he sorta loves it. He loves being needed, he loves knowing that they’re practically made for each other even if it was chance that threw them together. He loves having someone to rebuild a life with, especially since that life is theirs, not just his. It’s kind of what he’s always been looking for. This could be his happiness.

But Venom is also decidedly not human, and Eddie doesn’t know how they do things back on their home planet, but he’s not quite sure that Venom’s people feel romantic love, or anything close to it. He could ask, but it seems a little disrespectful, and Venom gets tetchy sometimes when Eddie implies there’s things they can’t do, so he leaves it be. It’s probably bad form to fall for someone who shares your body anyway, because you’re totally screwed if it goes wrong. Besides, even if Venom can fall in love, who’s to say they would ever go for someone outside their own kind? Relationships are complicated enough across countries and cultures; different species and planets adds a whole new dimension. It would be unfair for Eddie to drag Venom into an arrangement they don’t want just because he’s a lonely, clingy loser.

It would just be nice, Eddie thinks wistfully, to have someone in his life to love again. To have someone to do nice things for, someone who would do nice things for him. He used to have Annie, but, well. She’s happy with Dan, and honestly, he’s happy for them too. Even if he still loves her, he can’t begrudge them for what they have together. And Dan’s such a great guy. He doesn’t mind when Eddie comes over for dinner and can only eat vegetables or live seafood or an absurd number of potatoes. And he doesn’t mind those weird times when Eddie conks out on Annie’s couch by accident because his body still remembers how comfortable it is. What a good dude.

Venom is bristling for some reason, probably because he still holds a grudge against Dan for the MRI thing, so Eddie stops thinking about him and concentrates on the movie again. Time has skipped ahead to several months later, and the protagonists are standing in a chapel again, this time for their own wedding. He zones out a little, thinking about work and rent and what to eat tomorrow besides a scumbag’s brain, and comes back to the present when he realizes that Venom is listening very intently to the priest’s speech and the subsequent vows.

When the couple finally exchange rings and kiss, Venom decides to materialize in corporeal form next to Eddie’s shoulder. They snake up and around his neck to rest atop his head like a sticky hat. They watch the crowd cheer and confetti explode everywhere for some reason.

That’s us, Eddie, Venom says suddenly, with a bizarre amount of intensity. We’re like these two fools.

Eddie squints at the screen for a second before he understands. “What, married?”

Yes. We are bonded, like these humans. We even suffered through the same idiotic trials to get there.

Eddie laughs, until he feels how serious Venom is about this. Huh. He takes a second to think it over. “Well, not exactly the same. Neither of them came close to being roasted by a spaceship.”

Close enough. Your friend brought us together.

Maria, Eddie thinks with a painful twinge in his chest. There’s still a lot of little reminders about how horrible that whole experience had been, minus the part where he found someone to complete him.

We were torn apart because of an unwanted interloper-

“Dan was just trying to stop you from eating my organs, bud.”

Venom hisses crankily, making their annoyance known deep in Eddie’s chest. I would not have killed you, Eddie. I would never.

“I know, I know.” He sends out a warm wave of affection to placate his symbiote, and though Venom calms, they still seemed ruffled.

And then a series of annoying events and people tried to keep us apart. But they couldn’t, because we are stronger together. Better together. We saw different people, but it wasn’t the same.

“Is that what you call it? And here I thought you were just hitching a ride on Anne to get back to me.”

Venom does the mental equivalent of shrugging. I learned soon enough. And then we were reunited and became one again. See? We are like those two morons, they rumble, using Eddie’s hand to point at the TV. We are married.

“Alright, sweetheart, sure, we can be married,” Eddie says dryly. It’s not inaccurate, he decides. And it’s cute, even if he’s fairly sure that Venom doesn’t understand the concept of marriage. He’s always wanted to be married someday. “Not like I’ve got much luck on the human side of dating anyway.”

Yes. Because you are a loser.

“Thanks, Venom. Real nice.”

More importantly, you are mine. And I do not share. Unless you’re going to finally man up and win Annie back-

“You know that’s not happening. She’s moved on. And we’re okay with that, Venom,” he stresses.

You are. But if the doctor suddenly did not have a head...

Eddie slaps his own face to stop the teeth from coming out. “No, we already talked about this, we are never, ever eating Dan!”

Fine. Then, without Annie, we will be a marriage of two. We will never be apart again.

Sounds good enough to Eddie. He doesn’t even know if he could adjust now if he lost Venom again. “Sure. Skipped some of the important steps, but that’s okay. Still, if you feel like wining and dining me now that you put a ring on it, I wouldn’t mind.”

Dining...on you? I thought we agreed that was a bad idea.

“No, not- I meant like eating dinner together.”

We do everything together, dumbass.

Eddie flops over on the couch to lie down and Venom flops with him, expanding to tangle around his chest in a rubbery mass. “Yeah, thank you, I knew that. Look, humans usually go on dates and bond and stuff before they get married. You’ve seen my memories: it’s what Annie and I were doing. I was just joking with you because we obviously didn’t do those parts.”

Did we not bond? Venom asks incredulously. They’re clearly offended, and Eddie runs his hand gently down Venom’s form to calm them down. We went on many adventures together! You took me to a restaurant!

“We fought a bunch of cops and goons and took a bath in a lobster tank! Not my ideal date, pal.”

Hm.

There’s a stretch of time where Venom seems to be thinking about something, but they keep it blurred from Eddie’s consciousness, crammed full of too much other white noise to make out the details. He doesn’t mind; they’re learning to understand boundaries and made a working agreement on privacy. It’s usually unsuccessful, but they give it a go regardless. The silence stretches on even after the credits start rolling and another movie begins. Just from the first two minutes, Eddie can already tell it’s another romantic comedy. He reaches lethargically for the remote, but his hand is returned to him without his say so.

We should watch another one.

“Should we? The last one was really mediocre. This one looks like it was made back when parachute pants were still popular.”

Yes. I want to see if anyone asks her to go to homecoming even though she is unappealing and miserable.

You don’t even know what homecoming is, Eddie thinks at them fondly, to which Venom replies smoothly, Of course I do. It’s right in the name. Now hush, Eddie. This douchebag is about to ask her out.

Eddie indulges his other for as long as he can, but he fades sometime during the second act. As he falls asleep, he feels Venom stretching further to wrap around him like a quilt as they turn the volume low. Sleep now, my Eddie, Venom rumbles against his chest as he drifts off feeling warm and protected, dreaming about chapel steps and wedding bells.

--

It’s Wednesday evening after a long day of trekking around town for research and there’s no food in the fridge besides a half-full bottle of ketchup and an ant that skitters in when they open the door. Venom snaps out a tentacle to grab hold of the insect with impressive dexterity, holding it in place without crushing the little guy. Eddie makes a face, holding up his own hand.

“We are not eating an ant, buddy. Put it down.”

It’s alive and it’s protein, Venom counters. What more do you want?

“I’d need to eat ten thousand ants to satisfy your ridiculous stomach, and that’s literally the worst thing we could spend our night doing.” Venom harrumphs but flicks the ant away, and they make the mutual decision to go to the grocery and pick up something to tide them over until tomorrow.

Mrs. Chen is perusing a newspaper when they come skulking in for another handful of candy bars and frozen food.

“You look like shit again, Eddie,” she tuts.

“You know I’ve got that parasite, Mrs. Chen. Makes my health all wonky, y’know?” Venom bristles at the nickname, but doesn’t seize control or do much more than snarl various insults at him.

She gives him a flat look. “Not because of Venom. This is just you. Have you been eating too many hot foods again? I told you that was unhealthy. You need to balance your diet. Cut the fried stuff, eat some fruits, buy some spinach. I’ve got some right over there,” she says, pointing toward the refrigerated unit.

He grins sheepishly at her and heads in the direction she was pointing. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll get right on it.”

Of course, that’s after grabbing a bunch of chocolate bars and a box of frozen hashbrowns. There isn’t a huge variety of produce here, but there’s enough to keep them fed for a day or two. Eddie picks out a bundle of carrots and a small head of broccoli before turning to leave.

No. Get more broccoli. Eddie picks up another large piece, and Venom growls. More! Grab it all! Spinach too! Hurry up!

Eddie frowns at the produce in his hands and on the shelves. “You hate broccoli. And spinach. And most vegetables. What’s going on with you?”

Just take the vegetation, Eddie. The red ones, over there. Get those too.

He rolls his eyes, but does as Venom says, adding a cluster of beets to his pile of veggies. There’s almost too much stuff to hold now, but the shop is empty so Venom lends him an inky hand.

Mrs. Chen looks surprised but pleased when he dumps his haul on the counter. “Good, good,” she says as she rings them up. “I’m glad at least one of you takes your health seriously. You watch out for him, Venom. Make sure he gets enough rest.”

“Of course. He is a disaster without me,” Venom says with Eddie’s mouth, and Eddie throws his hands in the air. Bad enough that they’re talking about him like he’s not there, but to use his own body to so do? Rude.

“You better actually let me eat this,” Eddie threatens when then get home, and Venom sends forth a pulse of reassurance, to pacify him. So Eddie gets to heating up their hashbrowns and making a simple stir fry for the vegetables while Venom sends some tendrils off behind them to do something with some of the excess food. Eddie can tell they’re puttering around, assembling some kind of creation, but he doesn’t pay it much mind until he walks over to the table with their dinner and finds a complicated sculpture of beets and broccoli sitting in a tall drinking glass.

He crouches down to give it a better look, and finds that Venom has somehow shredded the beets into fine strips to weave through the broccoli like ribbons. It’s kind of pretty, whatever it is.

“Is this your attempt at cooking?” Eddie asks, prodding at it. “Do you wanna eat it after the hashbrowns?”

Venom laughs at him like he’s an idiot and tugs his hand away from the sculpture. No. The plant is there to look nice. Unlike everything else in our shitty apartment. Now sit. It’s time for dinner.

“Yeah, I know. I made it,” Eddie gripes, but he allows Venom to manhandle him into a chair. Dinner is a quick affair as usual, and then Eddie has to summon the willpower to do the dishes he’s been letting pile up for a week. Usually Venom settles atop his shoulders as he does the chore, providing rude but amusing commentary about all their noisy neighbors, but today they sprout two additional arms along Eddie’s side, and aide him in rinsing the dish soap off the plates that he suds up.

“Well, aren’t you helpful today?” Eddie says as a hand that he can feel but can’t move passes another glass over to be washed. “Not that I didn’t like our old routine, but this is cool. What’s with the change of heart?”

I have done some research while you were sleeping, and the internet believes that spouses who do housework together have a happier marriage. And are more active in the bedroom.

Eddie chokes on his own tongue, and Venom has to take over and force him to manually breathe again. He’s not thinking about having sex with his symbiote. Not thinking about it! Bad enough that Eddie Alone Time warped into a long presentation on human reproduction last time he tried it. “Wha- what have you been reading? I thought you just liked to use the computer to watch animal videos.”

There are many resources! Humans were smart to invent Google. A good decision.

Eddie wonders briefly what the hell Venom’s been getting up to on the web, then decides he’ll probably find out at a really inopportune moment anyway. “Okay, then, Mr. Happy Homemaker, I expect you to pull your weight around here from now on. No more slacking, babe. This rathole needs us both to make it a home sweet home.”

Fine. Unless you’re using the vacuum.

“Unless I’m using the vacuum,” Eddie agrees. Venom loathes the thing. Maybe it’s the noise it makes, or the fact that they went exploring inside once and had a terrible time.

With the dishes done in record time, Eddie has the chance to type up some of his notes from earlier today. He preemptively warns Venom that he’s too busy for snake pictures or hydraulic press videos or weird niche porn, or whatever else his other might want to commandeer the computer for, but Venom is happy enough to curl up in a vaguely humanoid blob along his side and watch more bad rom-coms on cable. Eddie is too occupied with his work to understand why Venom is so amused by this latest movie, but he can at least appreciate the sensation of sharing in that glow of happiness, even if he doesn’t know why. There are the typical activities that make his symbiote happy, like the rush of chasing down an opponent or climbing to a high ledge in the middle of the night, but there are also little things too. Like popping bubble wrap with their tongue or rolling around in Eddie’s shaving cream or intentionally wrapping Eddie like a burrito in his sheets so that he needs help getting up in the morning. These things have started to make Eddie happy too, though he isn’t sure if it’s their shared emotional responses, or if it’s just because he likes it when Venom is having fun. It doesn’t matter which, he supposes. They share everything anyway, no matter where or how it starts.

There’s a level of domesticity here that leaves Eddie feeling...satisfied, he would say. Nights like these, he can forget that he was ever lonely. He’s not missing out on much, anyway. He has almost everything he needs right here. He’s dangerously attached, he knows, but when he can feel how perfectly they entwine together like this, twin spots of contentment broadcasting from them both, it’s hard to remember why these feelings might be a bad idea.

--

Venom’s vegetable arrangement lasts a week or so until Eddie has to throw it out because it’s way too moist and mushy. Venom is disgruntled by this, and a little hurt, even after Eddie apologizes. They continue to sulk all day until a mugger runs past on the way home, and taking care of him accidentally leads them to a gang of assholes terrorizing the homeless, and then when Eddie won’t let them devour any of the little twerps, they take Eddie climbing up the side of an office building to go mope on the roof.

Hey, Eddie says from inside, what’s going on? Are we okay? He can turn their head to look over the city lights, but he’s still turned over most control to Venom, who seems determined to hunch over the ledge like a large gargoyle.

That’s something that’s been bothering him lately. It’s difficult for them to hide anything from each other, not without a considerable amount of effort. While they can’t literally read each other’s minds word for word, they can always get a pretty broad picture of what the other is thinking about. Like watching a television show with the volume turned down low. Things can slip by, but it’s hard not to get the general idea. The best method Eddie has found so far to hide things is to flood the airwaves with so many loud thoughts about other junk - writing, hunger, bills, interviews, anxiety, research - that whatever he’s trying to hide gets lost in the noise. It doesn’t always work; Venom has a way of worming their way into the thoughts that Eddie doesn’t want to broadcast. Which is why it’s weird to him that he can tell that there’s something Venom isn’t telling him.

He doesn’t know what it is, obviously, and no amount of probing around their pool of emotions reveals anything.

We are fine, Venom tells him, still kind of grumpy over whatever. Actually, no, we are hungry. And you wouldn’t let us eat that garbage man!

I thought I already told you that garbage men are people who take out the trash. It’s not a synonym for asshole, Eddie says, amused by the ripple of annoyance Venom sends back. If you’re hungry, let’s go back.

Venom gives the city another moody once-over before hissing out a sigh and retreating back into Eddie’s body. Too late does he realize they’re still sitting on the ledge.

“Wait, wait, nope! Heights, Venom! Too many heights,” Eddie babbles before Venom envelops him again.

You wanted control. They sound very self-satisfied as they bound back toward the ground, sliding and winding down the building with an alien kind of grace.

When I’m not in danger of toppling to my gruesome death!

Ha. You should just let me take charge, Eddie. I will protect us. I know what you need.

They turn control back over to Eddie once they hit the alley floor, slipping back into him easily. “Nuh-uh. This is our body,” he argues as he brings them toward the nearest CVS. “That means we share, darling. You usually get to do the kickass stuff and I get to do the boring stuff that keeps us off the streets. Now help me pick out the kind of frozen waffles you want.”

Chocolatey chip.

“Good choice.”

Considering that they literally just had a talk about Eddie running the ordinary human parts of their life, Venom sure is quick to seize control and move Eddie like a puppet through the store right before he’s about to go pay. When he finally wrenches power back they’re outside the apartment and he’s standing there staring at the gigantic heart-shaped box of chocolates that Venom deemed necessary to purchase.

“This...is excessive?” Eddie says as he lets them in. The plastic bag in his hand contains at least six other kinds of chocolate, all packaged in neat boxes with ribbons unlike the usual bag of M&Ms that they just rip open and pour like a slot machine payout straight into Venom’s waiting maw.

You wanted chocolate.

“You’re not wrong, I guess.” Chocolate sure tastes better than assorted body parts. “But not this much?”

You deserve chocolate, Venom says, changing tack to explain their apparent candy addiction. We worked very hard today.

“Are you buttering me up for something?” Eddie asks suspiciously, prodding around their mindspace to see if Venom is gearing up to demand they try something dangerous. But there’s nothing there except a comfortable kind of calm.

I told you. I know what you need, they reply, dodging Eddie’s question.

“A fuckload of chocolate?” After throwing himself on the couch, Eddie tears the plastic off the heart box and lifts the cover. The truffles inside do look fancy. He pops one into his mouth. Raspberry filling, not bad. “Here, open up.” He lifts up a square piece next to his face and waits for Venom to form up beside him and snatch the candy from his fingers with their mouth. A pulse of satisfaction runs through him, and he offers up another one.

They’re halfway through the entire box when Eddie remembers what started today’s sulkfest in the first place.

“Hey, I’m sorry about your broccoli thing. It was just getting really moist, and we have enough bug problems without inviting cockroaches to come stay with us too.”

Venom gives off a complicated emotion that somehow feels like a pout, then tangles around Eddie’s arm. It’s alright. It was too soggy. Unacceptable. Chocolate is better.

“Definitely,” Eddie agrees, glad Venom isn’t offended that he didn’t want to eat the wet veggie sculpture. He feeds them another truffle before setting the box aside. “C’mon, we can find one of those d-list movies you like so much.” He leans against the armrest and pats his own chest, and Venom slides on over, amassing themself in a blob across Eddie like he’s a pillow. It’s comforting.

He actually pays attention this time, and as expected, the movie is pretty fucking bad. But it’s worth it for all the snide comments Venom makes about every single person in the film, as well as the charming way they can’t help but get excited when the main characters finally get together. So his other half is a secret romantic. Who knew?

It’s cute. Venom, for an entity that oscillates wildly between being a pile of oily glop and a terrifying apex predator, is adorable in a lot of ways. Maybe Eddie’s biased, but he thinks he’d still feel this ridiculous amount of affection for Venom even if they stopped sharing a body. Venom wasn’t the only one to be won over during their first short stint together.

He curls a hand around the shifting mass on his chest, and Venom loops sweetly around him without hesitation, every point of contact between them singing with fondness. It’s all so much.

Perhaps it should frighten him to care so deeply about someone else again. He should probably be overwhelmed by how enormous the weight of his feelings are, but these emotions slot so neatly into the gaps that had left him hollow in the past that he can’t do much more than just accept them for what they are. He does make a token effort to blur his mood so Venom hopefully can’t dig up his secret.

All of this is a bad idea, he already knows. Wanting to mean more to his symbiote than he already does. Despite all the changes to his life, Eddie’s heart is still so fragile and human. He has too much love and nowhere to put it. It’s only going to hurt more in the end.

That doesn’t stop him from wanting.

--

Venom’s always interested in learning about new things, and going to new places, even if half the time they make irreverent comments in Eddie’s head throughout the whole event. The other half, they’re genuinely excited, like when Eddie made the mistake of riding a roller coaster with them, or letting them help him cheat at the ring toss to win a stuffed octopus. In retrospect, going to a carnival was maybe not the best call.

They’re also usually content to stay at home, as long as he’s eaten recently. But this month, they’ve been extra antsy to get out of the apartment, demanding that Eddie go out and do something fun whenever Eddie has time off.

It’s why Eddie finds himself at the California Academy of Sciences, listening to Venom tell him which of the fish in the discovery tidepool they’d like to eat most.

The starfish. I want to try it.

No fucking way, we’ll traumatize every kid here and get banned from every aquarium on the west coast for life.

Then at least let us touch it.

“That’s the plan,” Eddie tells them out loud. He lowers his hand into the chilly water to brush it over the top of a sea urchin. Venom, intrigued, extends the smallest tendril from his fingertips to touch the spines themself, giving a little shudder when they get poked. The burst of happy curiosity makes Eddie smile, and he moves onto the starfish next. After the touch tank they make their way through the rest of the aquarium before moving onto the rainforest, where Venom almost has a conniption over all the delicious looking birds and reptiles that Eddie says are extremely illegal to eat. He makes it up to them after by going out for ice cream and dollar oysters.

Another day, they demand to brought back to Golden Gate Park, where Eddie lets them take him for a spin on the carousel, before they convince him to take a rowboat out on Stow Lake.

I will do the hard work. You can relax, Eddie, Venom assures him.

“I don’t think we can get away with that out here,” he says, noticing the other families and couples out on the lake, and begins rowing. They take a leisurely pace. It’s a good date location, with the flowers and waterfall and the lovely pavilion floating on the lake’s edge. He should’ve come here with Annie. He sees a couple taking a selfie by the stone bridge, one of the girls holding up her phone while her girlfriend beams next to her. Venom takes interest too, eyes peeking out from Eddie’s hand before blinking back out of sight.

Should we take a picture too? they ask, out of consideration for him, he can tell. It’s not like Venom ever looks through his photos.

“Nah, I’m just gonna look like a lonely dude taking selfies by myself. Besides, you’ll remember this well enough for the both of us, right?” Venom gives him a pleased wave of affirmation, and shows him flashes of the last couple of minutes, both from his and their point of view. “See, you’re better than any camera.”

Venom does eventually take over the rowing, but by using Eddie’s arms, so he’s not sure if it counts as relaxing or not. Their walk through the botanical garden is more easy-going, though Eddie has a moment of fear that they’ll get kicked out because Venom manages to pluck several flowers free without him noticing. They slip them into his hand while he’s turning past a tree.

For you. You like the yellow ones, don’t you?

“Oh, shit,” Eddie says, and tosses them in his backpack before anyone can see him stealing from the park. “Uh, thanks, buddy, but let’s just get them from a store next time.”

Why? These are just as visually appealing.

“It’s kind of illegal, babe.”

No tasting starfish, no picking flowers, no eating heads. Earth laws are the worst, Venom complains as Eddie power-walks away from the scene of the crime.

They escape the park without being caught, and since it would be a shame to just toss the wildflowers out, Eddie puts them in a drinking glass on the table when they get home. Venom did pick some good ones. They’d look nicer in a vase, but he doesn’t own one, and it seems silly to invest in one when he has flowers and broccoli sculptures in the apartment about once every three years.

I will bring you more. Buy a vase.


Around the time that Venom discovers the existence of chocolate tours, Eddie realizes that he doesn’t know where they’re getting these ideas from, and when he checks his browser history, it’s suspiciously clear.

“Have you been looking up touristy things to do in San Francisco?” he asks while they’re sipping on hot chocolate in the chocolate factory cafe.

No. It’s not a lie, but there’s something dodgy about it.

“Hmmm, okay. I guess as long as you’re having fun, I don’t mind, but can we stay at home once in a while, too? It’d be easier on my wallet.”

You don’t want to go out? Venom asks, as if it’s a surprise for some reason. I thought humans liked “bonding” and “doing things.”

Eddie can hear their quotation marks, and he laughs into his cup. “It’s nice and all, but you know I don’t mind a lazy day in. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this hot chocolate is spectacular, but I can make some good old fashioned Swiss Miss at home, too. We can eat cookie dough and watch game shows.”

And that’s what they do that evening, snuggled up on the couch. Eddie feels a little bad at first, unsure if he’s railroaded Venom into staying in when they’d rather be out and about, but then he remembers that it’s hard to get Venom to agree to anything they’re not truly willing to do. They seem perfectly happy to rest draped across his shoulders, being hand fed spoonfuls of raw cookie dough.

His own mouth is also full of dough, so he thinks at Venom, is this okay?

Venom doesn’t understand his question without prodding at his brain for the emotional context, and then they do something that feels both like a sigh and a hug. Like they’re melting into his side. Anything you want is what I want. Whatever we need, we can have. And what we need is caramel sauce.

Oh, really? You should get it for us, then, Eddie thinks, because he’s feeling lazy, and Venom suits him up and shuffles them over to the cabinet. They reach for the bottle of caramel sauce, and proceed to squeeze the entire thing into the bucket of cookie dough.

Ugh.

Stop whining, it’s not that much.

They make to unfold from him but he mentally shakes his head, so they remain bonded. Sometimes it’s nice to give up control for a little while. It’s snug and safe in here, and though they’re overprotective, Venom will always eventually respect Eddie’s autonomy if he wants it back. Right now, though, he just wants to enjoy a different kind of closeness that only they can share. It’s another reason why he wanted some time at home, and though neither of them say it, he can feel all around him that Venom agrees.

--

For the last few days, Venom has been overwriting Eddie’s physical commands to temporarily move his body, but for only the briefest moments before letting Eddie drive again. It is super weird.

“Uh, why?” Eddie asks after Venom forcibly moves his hand to help him open the door before letting up. It leaves Eddie standing dumbly in the doorway with his hand still extended. “I know how doorknobs work, buddy. I’ve got this.”

It’s called being polite. Look it up.

“Whoa, okay, we’re gonna be sarcastic about this, are we?”

It’s not just doors. Venom helps him pull out chairs, carry groceries up the stairs, open a jar of pickles. Then they vacate whatever limb they were just using, leaving Eddie to pick up where they left off without warning.

At first, Eddie just kind of rolls with it, because while it makes him look like he’s on drugs when he’s in public, it doesn’t really bother him that much. And then Venom takes over when they’re over at Anne’s and Eddie almost drops his dinner plate when Venom unexpectedly makes him pull out both his own seat and Annie’s. He almost collides with her when he gains control again, and she gives him a strange look.

“Um, thank you, Eddie. But I know how to move a chair. I have, you know. Working arm muscles.”

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” he exclaims. “I can open a jar of pickles,” he says with a scoff when Venom spitefully makes him stab his fork into a whole lot of nothing instead of his raw tuna steak.

She and Dan both raise their eyebrows. “Oh, so this is Venom then? Is this a chivalry thing?” she asks with a smile. “Helping us pitiful humans out?”

Huh, Eddie hadn’t even thought of that. “Yeah, is it?” he asks out loud.

It is a “you suck at taking care of yourself” thing.

“Okay, and I’d believe that a lot more if you weren’t helping me perform basic motor functions that I’m already real good at. I’m awesome at pressing elevator buttons myself. Passed the college course with flying colors.”

Then let me help you skip the elevator completely next time. Up, down. Sideways. We can do them all ourselves.

“Not when I’m trying to go to work, Venom! We’re not suiting up in the middle of the day in front of my boss and half the people stuck in traffic downtown.”

Pus-

“Oh, don’t you start with me.”

“Trouble in paradise?” Dan asks. As always, he looks both entertained and intrigued by the stupid one-sided conversations Eddie ends up having while he’s over for dinner.

Eddie shakes his head as he saws off a piece of his fish. “No- it’s just a dumb disagreement. Venom thinks I need help doing simple stuff, like looking after myself.”

“Well,” Annie says, stretching out the vowel. She puts her utensils carefully down. “Venom isn’t wrong?”

“Hey, I’m a totally functional adult. Almost successful even,” Eddie says. Dan gives him an encouraging smile, and he bumbles on. “My articles have been a pretty big hit. I know how to make a mean salad now. I even put together an IKEA shelf the other day.” With Venom’s help, which might just be proving everybody’s point.

“I know, Eddie,” she says with that smile he loves so much, “but you’re also the kind of person who really benefits from having someone in your life to look out for you. You spend so much time helping other people, writing about their lives and their problems, that you forget to care about yourself sometimes. Remember how you would stay up too late working and forget to sleep until I told you to?”

“Or when you’ve been shadowing your subjects at work all day and forget to plan anything for dinner?” Dan asks gently. “It’s okay to need other people. Like your friends. We’re happy to have you join us.”

“And I think Venom’s just glad to help fill in for the rest. Am I right?” She directs this question at the general space next to Eddie, and Venom extends a face tendril out to answer.

Annie is smart. Listen to her.

Eddie can’t even argue, because she’s not wrong. He’s just the needy type.

“But maybe tone the door-holding down a little,” she tells Venom. “It’s sweet that you’re such a gentleman, but I think Eddie might injure himself on a chair soon if this keeps up.”

Venom tilts their face for a moment and Eddie feels them thinking about it - flashes of different factors flying through their mind until they settle on saying, “Maybe. But I would never let any furniture hurt Eddie.

“You tossed me into a bookcase last week, love,” Eddie reminds them, and they turn their face to growl at him, “We were under attack!

“It was just a wasp,” Eddie reassures the other two, who are now looking at them in alarm. “Or two. Or five. Shit, we really do have a bug problem.”

And I told you we could just eat them and be done with it.

Annie and Dan share a look, something kind of confused and amused at the same time, but Eddie doesn’t have time to dwell on it because Venom goes ahead and starts eating his fish with their own mouth, dodging deftly when he tries to get it back.

Even after dinner is finished, Eddie stays a little longer since it’s nice to talk to people who don’t live in his head. Venom retreats back into his body once they’re done eating, but Eddie can sense them running restless under his skin.

No, not restless, he realizes midway through a conversation about the new clinic opening up near Annie’s favorite sandwich shop. Venom isn’t just mindlessly roaming around; they’re looking for something. Both in Eddie’s memories, and here, in the present. He doesn’t automatically see everything Venom can see and sense unless they share it with him, but he can tell they’re studying Dan for some reason, just from the way he finds his own attention curiously wandering toward him even when Anne is talking. It’s bizarre. Venom never pays this much attention to Dan, preferring to try and distract Eddie with their own internal conversation, or to watch Anne with a detached kind of interest.

There’s no malicious intent behind it, but he keeps an eye on them anyway, mostly wondering what the deal is. Venom certainly doesn’t feel like sharing, so Eddie surreptitiously watches Dan too, using years honed as a reporter to do so without being an obvious creep.

But Dan is his totally normal self. Genuinely friendly toward Eddie and Venom, considerate and affectionate toward Anne without being overbearing. Seeing the casual touches they share used to hurt, but there’s only a nostalgic twinge now whenever he notices Dan softly brush his hand against her shoulder as he passes or the tiny kiss he leaves on her cheek as a thank you. He only feels the slightest regret when he hears Dan quietly compliment Annie on how she looks with her hair up tonight. Venom feels much more of something about it, so Eddie vigorously reminds them that Dan is a friend.

Annie is normal too, minus the slightly appraising looks Eddie catches her sending his way. Those last all the way until the end of the evening, when Dan excuses himself to take a call and Anne walks her Eddie to the door.

“It was good to see you tonight,” she says warmly. “You too, Venom. Tell me when the library article is out, okay?”

“Yeah, of course. Thanks for having us over. Tell Dan thanks too; we’ll check in with him if the cough comes back.”

“Sure thing, Eddie.” He starts to give her an awkward salute before Venom forces his hand back down to his side, and they step out of the doorway. But before they can leave, Anne stops them with a hand to Eddie’s shoulder. “Hey,” she says softly, just like she used to right before they fell asleep, and for a moment he expects his heart to hurt as much as it did when they first broke up, but it doesn’t come. Instead, it’s the quiet, healing ache of knowing he still has her, just in a different way. He can feel Venom latching on to this emotion and filing it away in their many notes on Eddie’s feelings.

“Is for horses,” he replies, and she makes a face.

“I just wanted to say that- that you look good. Happier, healthier. And I’m glad. Dan and I- we were worried for a while, after everything. And then we realized Venom was back and we were worried for different reasons, but I’m happy we were wrong. It’s strange still, your situation, but so many things are these days, and I’m just really relieved to know that you have someone to see you through it all. I’m glad you have each other.”

It takes him a moment to absorb it all, but when he does, he smiles, and together he and Venom tell her, “Thanks, Annie. We’re glad too.”


That night, as he’s writing and Venom is watching an action movie for once, he thinks about Anne again. Her smile, the curve of her waist under his hand, the way her hair would brush against his neck when they kissed. Her laugh, her off-beat singing, and her ice cold fingertips that she would always stick under his shirt. The way she would slowly siphon food away from his plate and replace it with her fries. How she used to card her fingers through his hair when they were curled next to each other in bed.

They’re good memories. And that’s all they are.

She’ll always hold a place in his heart that no one else can, but he’s no longer consumed by the thoughts of what he lost when he fucked up their relationship. They’re in a good place with each other, friends again.

We don’t miss her the way we used to, Venom comments quietly and Eddie nods. He stretches his legs and reaches his arms up toward the ceiling to crack his back.

“I think I’ve finally moved on. Which is good. It feels like the last step to closing out a pretty low point in my life. You were the first step,” Eddie says, and Venom spirals up his arms to link his hands and lower them back down to the table.

You were my first step too, Eddie.

They unwind from his hands to hover up and cradle his face, tenderly, and his eyes flutter closed for a moment. Venom is a part of him, always, now, and there’s never a time when they’re not touching in some way or another, but this - this feels different. This feels more deliberate, more thoughtful, and he responds in kind, making it obvious how it makes him feel.

He gets a happy hum back, and Venom’s touch widens as they wrap around his skin and sink back into him.

“Here’s to moving on,” Eddie says, raising his beer in the air for a toast with no one. Venom tolerates him drinking once in a blue moon, but they don’t like how it dulls their senses, so he doesn’t go out to bars much anymore. “We’re gonna live our best lives. I’ve got friends, a solid job, a semi-livable apartment, and a new-” He stops and quickly decides he’s going to rephrase that. “And I’ve got you. It’s only going to get better from here.”

Yes, Venom agrees, though they’re trying to figure out why he censored himself just now. Eddie starts emphatically thinking about maybe taking a nighttime stroll on a seedy street to distract from the fact that he was about to say the word “boyfriend,” or “gender-neutral significant other,” and that’s a conversation he doesn’t currently want to have with himself or Venom. The longer he can be in denial about it, the better.

Venom gladly takes the bait, hyped up at the thought of terrorizing some folks up to no good, even if Eddie might not let them snack on anyone. They’re still sated from dinner anyway. Eddie’s kind of tired, which Venom notices, so they compromise on the amount of time they’ll spend stalking around, and Eddie gives himself over to be taking out for a joyride.

From the first heart stopping jump out the window, and the rush of excitement that follows, Eddie convinces himself that this was the right call. He can deal with his inconvenient feelings later. Or maybe never.

--

The meeting with his editor runs long, which means it’s already early evening by the time Eddie leaves the office. It’s a pleasant enough day, so he decides to walk home, since it’s not often he gets to just take his time and enjoy the sights of the city.

We have good legs, Venom says, apropos of nothing while Eddie is admiring the sunset along the way.

“Yeah, they sure get the job done,” Eddie agrees. “Thanks for patching them up that time. And the giant hole in my chest, too.”

I will always fix us when we are broken.

“Oof, broken. You saying there’s something wrong with me?”

No! Venom yells at him. It’s loud enough that Eddie and his good legs stumble for a second. You are perfect. We are perfect. Never doubt that. Or I will have to remind you.

“Is that a threat, buddy?” Eddie says with a laugh as he crosses the street. “And don’t worry, it was just a joke.”

You’re a joke, Venom grumbles.

“Ouch. That hurts, darling, it really does.”

You’re being disingenuous! Stop that.

“Okay, okay.”


Eddie must have really struck a nerve with that “broken” comment, because over the next week Venom lavishes him with odder and odder compliments. It’s made better/worse by all the gentle little touches they’ve been leaving on Eddie whenever they’re alone. On his neck, and his face, and at his waist like a half-embrace, which is probably his own fault for making it obvious that he enjoys it. Eddie certainly doesn’t mind, but he’s also not sure why this is happening, besides his symbiote thinking he needs an ego-boost, especially after one of the interns at work called him old a few days ago.

You are the squishiest and softest host. None have ever had such comfortable flesh.

I like the way our skin feels when we move together.

You sleep very nicely, Eddie. You are pleasantly easy to hold down.

“Alright, look, you’re my favorite parasite too, but you’ve gotta stop saying things that make it sound like you secretly want to eat me,” Eddie finally has to tell them after he hears Venom rumble lowly in his head, You are the tater tots of humans, Eddie.

The emotion Venom manages to convey is “question mark,” as they tell him, But humans do this all the time. Tell each other they look good enough to eat. I thought this was an acceptable compliment.

“Yeah, in those shitty movies you like to watch, maybe. In the real world, you can just say something simple like ‘You have beautiful eyes,’ or ‘I like your shirt.’ Give it a try.”

Venom pauses. I like your mouth.

Close enough. “Thanks, Venom! That’s sweet of you-”

It would be nice to be inside it. As warm and inviting as the rest of you.

Jesus. “Thank you for that also,” Eddie says in a strangled voice. Venom gives him another question mark as he does not think about one of their tentacles pressing insistently against his mouth. Or elsewhere. Nope. Doesn’t help that he’s working from his bed right now, Christ.

Disingenuous again, Venom tuts. I don’t see what was wrong this time.

“I think it’s your delivery. Listen when I do it. Venom, I think you have nice sharp teeth. And you’re very strong. And I like the way you can make us jump really far. See?”

Venom feels pleased, and they unfurl out from his neck to stare at him.

Another.

“Uh, sure. You’re really good at climbing tall things. And you make for a great blanket. The best blanket.”

In response, they skitter down in a web to cloak his chest, and he winds up plastered against the headboard, unable to move his arms. His laptop slides sadly off to the side.

Like this. You like being held.

“Yeah, it’s great, minus the part where I can’t work anymore.” He wiggles his fingers in an attempt to pull out of Venom’s embrace, but instead he gets cradled up and pushed down so that he’s now lying flat on the bed. One tendril snakes up to brush affectionately against his cheek.

You can work tomorrow. We are resting now.

Eddie considers arguing for a second, but the clock does read 1:42, and he is getting drowsy. He glances back at his laptop, and waves a hand at it again. “At least let me save my work.”

Venom shoots out a limb to drag the computer closer, and once Eddie’s shut it down, they carry it away to his bedside table before dragging his actual blanket up over the both of them. He’s basically pinned in place, but it’s nice. Kind of like being spooned, though in this case it’s more like being spatulaed.

Let me try again, Venom purrs somewhere around his throat. Eddie shivers, even though he’s the farthest place from cold.

“Alright, give it a go.”

Your heartbeat is my favorite sound.

“Aw, that’s kind of cute. A little creepy still, but it’s sweet.”

You still aren’t impressed. We can both feel it.

“I wouldn’t say unimpressed. Just-”

Not swept off your feet. Because you’re already lying down.

They start lifting him back up and he has to grab onto the sheets to prevent it. He floods their connection with stop, I’m cozy!, until Venom drops him back down.

“You know physical position doesn’t have anything to do with it. C’mon, we’re resting now.” He pats the space next to him and Venom returns, splayed out around him as half-web and half-humanoid, still humming, still thinking.

The things humans find attractive are trivial. Shouldn’t it be enough that we were made for one another? Isn’t that a compliment?

“Yeah, but those are the big guns, love. You don’t usually pull those out unless you’re in a committed relationship.”

Exactly. We’re committed to each other!

Not like that, Eddie thinks with a stab of guilt. Venom only signed up for a host, a carrier. A partner, at most. But Eddie wants a different level of commitment. He wants something he doesn’t know that Venom can give. “We are pretty serious about each other,” he says weakly, leaning in when Venom coils around him tighter.

You are what I have always been looking for. You are my…

Eddie can feel them searching for the words, flipping through his memories to try and remember a turn of phrase he used once. “Partner? Other half?”

Yes! My other half. My soulmate. You were who I was waiting for all this time.

To further prove their point, Venom replays for him their reunion, but from their point of view. The relief, the joy, the ecstasy of being whole again, of becoming one. Wrapped up tight in his other’s hold, surrounded by their memory of how they felt when they found him again, Eddie feels complete. It’s both exhilarating and soothing. The chances of these feelings he has for Venom remaining strictly platonic are officially fucked. “I think maybe I was waiting for you too,” he confesses, knowing that those feelings and more are all mirrored in him. It starts to wind into a feedback loop, but he can feel himself poisoning it with the thought that what they want from each other doesn’t exactly overlap anymore. That their emotions for one another are similar, but have now diverged. Still, he clings to the lovely feeling of completion that Venom is giving him. “I’m sorry about how it happened, but I’m really glad you finally found me.”

We found each other.

“We did.”

They lie there quietly together, just breathing and being. Eddie feels light-headed and sleepy; too many feelings and not enough willpower. He wants more, he wants everything, but he also wants to sleep and put off thinking about it until later. Hide it away, hide it away, he reminds himself, but he suddenly feels so drained he can’t do much more than fill his own thoughts with fuzz. Venom can tell he’s struggling to stay awake, and they drape a heavy arm around his chest to hold him close.

Go to sleep. I will take care of the lights.

“Thanks, Venom, you’re the best,” he mutters back, already beginning to drowse against Venom’s neck, and he doesn’t really hear when Venom tells him, I will always take care of you, Eddie. Even if you find someone else, I will still be yours. Even if you are not only mine.

--

Eddie. I have a question.

Eddie clings to the remnants of sleep, but Venom’s voice cuts through the fog, bringing him to full consciousness. They’re still tangled together in a mess from last night, with Venom threaded all around Eddie’s body like a person fraying into a fishing net.

“Mornin’, sweetheart,” Eddie says sleepily through a yawn. He snuggles deeper into his sheets and Venom’s embrace, and they shift to surround him more fully. It’s too early for movement. “What’s up?” he asks into the pillow.

Eddie. How do you feel about...dates.

It’s phrased like a question, though Venom doesn’t really sound like they actually want to know.

“Like, the fruit, or the event? The fruit is okay. The act of going on dates...is also okay.”

Just okay? You said you wanted to go out on dates.

Did he? “I honestly don’t remember that. I mean, I probably did at some point, but I guess I’m over that too? Besides, you said you didn’t share. I didn’t forget.” He rolls over to face the ceiling, blinking a few times as he really wakes up.

I did say that. You remembered.

“Of course I did. I remember most of what you tell me. Go ahead and fact-check for yourself,” Eddie says, gesturing vaguely at his head. But Venom doesn’t bother. They leave their human form in favor of dissolving into a mopey pile on top of him.

You do not desire companionship? Like you had with Annie? They feel gloomy against Eddie’s chest, and he feels the pangs of empathy pains echoing back through both of them.

Several months ago he’d been thinking about it, but recently, it hasn’t crossed his mind anymore. The hope, at first, was that he’d learned to become an independent man happy with his bachelor status, but he knows the truth is way more believable. He’s gone and done it.

He fell in love with his wacky parasite like a dumbass. Typical Eddie Brock.

He’s trying not to think too hard on it, hoping that it doesn’t translate clearly through to Venom. It’s not like his feelings are much different than they ever were. He just has a name for them now. And feels them extra strongly. If Eddie doesn’t dwell on it, and puts up a smokescreen of all the other issues he currently has to deal with, then Venom shouldn’t be able to pick out anything different, right? Awkward talk and potential heart-rending breakup avoided!

Besides, Venom’s still been hiding something from Eddie, so really, it’s just quid pro quo.

“I have companionship. I’ve got you, don’t I? It’s not exactly the same, but-” It could be. They do everything together already. The only thing they’re really missing is a more intimate aspect to their relationship, which makes Eddie laugh, because how could anything get more intimate than having your partner literally read your feelings? Not that he would say no to a more thorough bonding with Venom. Okay, and now he’s getting sidetracked again with how thoroughly he isn’t thinking about having sex with Venom. Gah.

But, Venom continues, waiting on Eddie to finish his sentence.

“But...it’s better,” he says decisively, once the words come to him. He wants his symbiote to know that they’re beloved, without giving away just how beloved they truly are. “We’re better together than anything else I could ever have. We’re partners, right? We’re-” and he hesitates to use this word, but Venom used it first, so it’s fair game, “we’re soulmates. We’re Venom. And that’s all I need.”

Yes! Exactly, Eddie. We were meant to be.

They bubble up excitedly on his stomach, forming into the upper half of a body to smile toothily down at Eddie. He grins back, because at the very least, he has this. He can be happy with this.

They get along with their day, Eddie back to work writing up his article about the city’s gas lines, and Venom doing what they usually do during the day when they don’t feel like hanging out inside Eddie: watching people on the street or flipping through home shopping networks and reruns of crime shows.

After they finish lunch, Eddie takes some time to do some housework while he can. It’s a lot easier to dust when he has an extra couple of limbs that can stretch effortlessly up to the hard to reach places. Venom has been surprisingly diligent about helping out with the chores, like they promised they would.

They can’t help much with mopping, so they sprout a face from Eddie’s back and ride around on his shoulder as he cleans the floors. He’s humming something mindlessly as he works, some song that an old boyfriend used to like. Eddie doesn’t have a clear-cut memory of hearing him sing it, but the song must conjure up enough nostalgia that Venom can get a general picture of what Eddie’s thinking about, and boy, do they feel annoyed by it.

“Before you ask, I haven’t seen Jake in like eight years, and no, you can’t eat him if we ever run into him somehow.”

You were attached to him. Like with Annie. But different?

“A little different,” Eddie confirms as he leans on his mop beside the kitchen table. “I liked him; we had fun. But it was never that serious. Not like with Anne.” He’s never felt for anyone the way he felt for Annie.

Venom can feel this sentiment, and they give him a kind of...wounded feeling, before it’s replaced with a single-minded confusion.

And now you do not desire anyone else, they ask.

“You know I don’t, bud. Pretty sure you would’ve felt it if I did.” He smiles ruefully, knowing there’s never going to be anyone else again. Everything he needs is here.

Yes, Venom says, but they’re puzzled still. But you were lonely and I was not enough. And now you are not lonely, but I am still not enough.

Eddie stops smiling, and loops a hand around Venom, drawing them closer to his face. “Wait. What do you mean by that? When have you ever not been enough?”

Venom slips through his fingers like oil, and puddles up on the table in a defensive coil. He can see their eyes narrowed at him as they decide what to say. He wants to reach out and tangle his hand in the thin filaments still connected to his wrist but he doesn’t want to overstep a boundary. He and Venom might be one, but sometimes they still each need their space. Rarely, but it happens.

You wanted someone to love, they say, as they keep their distance. I tried to prove that we were enough, but you did not understand. You were still lonely. You still wanted something. I tried to see, but you kept hiding it.

“Hiding? I haven’t been hiding anything except- uh.” Except for his feelings. Whoops. And more importantly: “Hold on a second. Are you saying that you were trying to like...prove you could fill some kind of void in my life?”

I can. I’m the only one who can give you what you need, Eddie. But you didn’t consider me an option! Even though you are mine and I am yours.

Eddie continues gaping at them for a second, before he sputters out, “I didn’t know you could be an option! I- I didn’t want to push you into something, when you were fine with what we have. I didn’t want you to be unhappy, tied to me.”

Why would I be unhappy? We chose each other. We are one. We are married.

“Yeah, but you didn’t- marriage here might not be like marriage on your home planet-”

We did not have marriage on Klyntar, you fool. There was symbiosis, and only symbiosis. What you and I have is both. Venom unfurls so that they’re hovering angrily in front of Eddie like a ghost, and he sits heavily down in the chair, letting the mop clatter to the ground.

“Wait, are you saying you think of us as like...Earth-married? Do you get what marriage is?” His heart aches, because he wants to hope, he wants to think that there’s more than a sliver of a chance that they’re on the same page about this.

Of course I know what marriage is! And you should know too! Why do you think I’ve been trying to seduce you all this time?

Eddie shrugs helplessly as Venom forms and dissolves scattered tendrils in the air in irritation. “Well, I dunno, you didn’t understand umbrellas, you doofus, how was I supposed to know that the concept of marriage- wait, seduce?

Seduce, woo, court, whatever. It’s all the same to me. None of it should have been as difficult as it was! You are beloved to me, Eddie, and you are still my perfect host, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a total fucking pain! Venom roars at him, broadcasting waves of pure exasperation as they wriggle around in the air.

I’m a pain? Why didn’t you just say something?” Eddie demands, and Venom pauses, coiling back on themself, and clearly uncomfortable about whatever they’re about to say. Eddie gives a little push with his mind, and though Venom doesn’t shy away, neither do they let him see in clarity.

Anyone can say the words, Venom explains slowly, still avoiding Eddie’s insistent press to share their feelings with him. I...wanted to show you. So you would know that I meant it.

Eddie suddenly remembers that first stupid movie they watched all those months ago, and his off-hand comment that Venom somehow took to heart. “Venom, when I said ‘some people,’ I didn’t mean me. Besides, we don’t even need words! You could’ve just shown me, but instead you’ve been- you’ve been hiding something. Was this it?”

I don’t know why I should tell you; you’ve been hiding something too, they reply sulkily.

Fair enough. Fuck, does he not want to lay himself bare like this, but he has to do this. They share everything else. They’re two parts of a whole. No more secrets.

“You know, you’re completely right. So I’ll go first. I have been hiding something from you.”

I know. I live in your brain, stupid. It’s very empty in there, so I don’t know how you managed it.

“God, stop roasting me for like a single minute so I can say this. Do you know why I’m not lonely anymore? It’s because I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m in love with you. That’s what I’ve been trying to keep from you, because I’ve fucked up enough good relationships in my life and I couldn’t let this be another one. Because losing you again- you know I can’t go through that.” Even thinking about it hurts.

Venom is still processing, Eddie can feel it, but they surge forward to weave themself around Eddie in an act of comfort.

I will never leave you. This is a promise.

“I know. I just couldn’t chance it, you know? But you were always enough. I- I just had to get used to it.” Venom’s face remains so that they can watch Eddie, but the rest of them threads around him, somehow managing to make a cage feel like a hug. “Sorry I didn’t appreciate all your, uh, wooing. I’m sure it was great. But you don’t really have to do anything special for me. Having what we have is enough.”

Venom tilts to examine him and then laughs. Of course I do. How many times do I have to tell you? I know what you need. And what you need is to be wanted. So I will keep showing you, because I will always want you. Do you understand?

“Yeah,” Eddie stutters out as their face draws closer to his and the hold around his torso tightens. “I think I know what you’re saying.”

Forget what I’m saying. No more words or actions. I want you to feel.

Venom leans forward to press their foreheads together, and Eddie can hear the white noise finally fade away. When it does, the floodgates open.

It’s like being in the eye of a hurricane, everything that Venom feels for him. What began as fascination and the casual connection of proximity, bloomed into understanding and a curious kind of fondness as Venom spent more time in his head, riding along with him as he stumbled back in and out of trouble. Eddie is a disaster, but he’s good, and tenacious, and brave, and Venom didn’t want him to matter. Didn’t come here looking for an equal bond, for a host to grow attached to. But Eddie made it so easy. He was soft, and scared, but still upright. Still kind. He had been wounded, but he never learned not to care. And Venom found that intriguing. It made them want to stay and understand, to see the world that created such a host.

Because, despite knowing better, they still ached for a true bond. For perfect symbiosis. And the others ridiculed them for this, they all chided Venom for their stupidity, their naïveté, but Venom knew, once they met Eddie. They knew that they could build something with him, be something more than a plague of destruction, a puppeteer, a parasite. They could finally be whole.

And when they learned to move together, to understand the push and pull between them and how to share trust and control, it had been so instantly right that they knew they couldn’t ever choose anything or anyone else.

Meeting Eddie in the first place had been providence. But finding him again, joining with him - that had been a declaration. This is what they’ve spent all this time searching for. No choice will ever matter as much as choosing Eddie. Just as Eddie is Venom, Venom is Eddie, and they intend to keep it that way. They will heal every scratch, shore up any weakness, shield every vulnerability. Every part of Eddie that he cannot love enough on his own, they will love for him.

And in return, he will build them a home.

Do you see now? I love you, Eddie.

Separating feels both like surfacing for air and like losing a part of himself. Eddie gasps for breath, surprised to feel a few tears at the corner of his eyes. That had been more intense than he realized it could be. They’ve shared memories and feelings before, but he’s never been dropped right into the middle of Venom’s psyche. And to feel so much about himself - it had just been a lot. He swipes the tears away with a hand and looks up to meet Venom’s eyes.

“I see, sweetheart. I really do. I love you too. Shit. I didn’t think-” That anyone could ever love him so much. He feels like he’s burning with it from the inside out, but then Venom sends a cool surge of affection through him and he can’t feel anything but euphoric.

I told you. We are perfect. That’s why we’re married. Venom moves forward to rub gently against Eddie’s cheek, and he leans into the touch. God, it all feels so easy, and he supposes that it really is just this simple. They were meant to be.

“It’s a good reason,” Eddie says through his smile. “You’re a good spouse.”

Finally, you understand. I thought we might have to do chores together for a year before you got it.

“No more chores for today.” Eddie stands and places the mop back in the bucket to be dealt with later. “I think maybe I just wanna lie down with you for a little while. Have some quality time to ourselves. Not that we don’t do that literally always, but-”

You want to snuggle. We can do that.

“You really do know me.”

Venom reaches out ahead to tug Eddie along back to their bed, and then helps arrange him so that he’s at his most comfortable. And it’s nice. But Eddie keeps twisting and turning because he doesn’t feel there’s enough contact between them, and Venom keeps shifting around in his grasp.

Eddie, lie still!

“Sorry, I just wanted to be closer.”

If you want to be closer, you should let us consummate our marriage instead of cuddling, Venom suggests, letting a tendril rest against his hip.

Oh. Eddie swallows. “Uh. We could do that too. If you want.”

I want what you want, love. So tell me.

“Yeah, I think- um, I think we should do that. Please.”

Of course. I told you I would take care of you.

And they press forward to show Eddie that the two of them really were meant to be one.