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Eddie rubbed a hand over his face and stretched. "I should take a shower, huh?"

No, Eddie. You're already clean. Why don't you eat some more chocolate?

Eddie looked down at himself. He was clean, dressed in a fresh shirt and pajama pants. Venom was half-manifested, black coils physically wrapped around Eddie's middle and sprawled over his lap. Why had he thought he needed a shower?

He looked around and froze, reaching down to lay a hand on Venom. They were in a strange room, a strange place, and Eddie had no idea how they had gotten there. Nothing looked even remotely familiar, not the furniture or the view out the windows, and here he was, barefoot in his fucking pajamas with Venom half out.

"V," he said, under his breath, eyeing the distance from this dumpy couch to the battered-looking door. "We need to--"

This is a safe place, Eddie. Please eat some chocolate and stay still.

Eddie frowned and looked down at the coffee table in front of him. There was a large glass of water, mostly full, and a bar of expensive-looking dark chocolate. It seemed like something Venom would like, and Venom sounded anxious for it, so Eddie picked it up and bit off a corner. There were a few bites taken out of it already. That seemed weird and unhygienic, but he figured Venom wouldn't tell him to eat it if he shouldn't, so it was probably fine.

He set the chocolate down and leaned back against the couch, chewing slowly, savoring the rich bitterness and the weird little happy tingle of Venom appreciating chocolate. He ran his fingers idly over a cool coil. He was tired, but he didn't want to sleep in a strange place, even with Venom to watch over him. Everything looked kind of grubby, and he felt vaguely sore all over.

Eddie rubbed a hand over his face and stretched. "I should take a shower, huh?"

Venom let out a growl like a sigh and hugged him tighter. You don't need a shower, Eddie. Just-- Venom cut off abruptly. Stay calm, please, Eddie. These are friends.

"What?" Eddie tried to stand, but Venom held him still, a tentacle coming up to curl gently around his throat and cradling his head. "V, what--who--"

There was a knock at the door. Eddie looked around wildly. He'd never seen that door before, or this place--where was this? How had they gotten here? Who had found them here when Eddie didn't even know where they were?

I invited them, Venom explained. They can help. You have lost your memory, and I don't know why.

"I--" Eddie looked down at himself. He was wearing pajama pants and a clean t-shirt, and he was barefoot. There was a chocolate bar on the coffee table with several bites taken out of it. It looked fancy, like something Venom would want him to buy. He'd never seen any of it before. "I lost my memory? How--"

But no matter what Venom told him, it wouldn't fill up the blankness in his head. He knew who he was--Eddie--and who Venom was--his symbiote--and beyond that there was nothing.

"Eddie?" The knock sounded again, as a woman called out his name. He didn't recognize her voice. How did she know he was here? How did she know who he was? "Eddie, are you okay? I got your text. Please open the door."

Eddie shook his head, closing his hand on Venom's firm-soft coil, but Venom sent out a tendril all the way to the door, deftly opening the locks and swinging it inward. A blonde woman in nice clothes was standing there, and a dark-haired guy who looked like he belonged to the same matched set was standing behind her shoulder.

Both of them looked shocked for a second; Venom retreated to curl around Eddie, but didn't withdraw or take over, letting them see him in this halfway form.

"Venom?" The woman stepped over the threshold. "Eddie, is--is this--do you need me to get rid of him again?"

"NO!" Eddie snarled, and Venom popped up his own head to echo him. "NO!"

The dark-haired man pushed the door shut and stayed right by it, watching them carefully, while the woman moved closer.

"Eddie? What's going on? You said--"

"I don't know you," Eddie snapped, and the coil Venom had around his throat shifted, an end tapping gently against Eddie's lips. He could have just shut Eddie up, and he hadn't. That probably meant something, but Eddie had no idea what anything meant right now.

"I texted you," Venom said, speaking softly-for-Venom, which still vibrated Eddie's bones in a mostly-pleasant way. It also made him feel his soreness, though, and--

Eddie rubbed a hand over his face and stretched. "I should take a shower, huh?"

"Shh, Eddie," Venom said, and Eddie dropped his hand and jerked back from the strangers in the room--the unfamiliar room, the--

"We are safe, Eddie," Venom said. "These are friends of mine. You have lost your memory and they will help us find out why, and how to fix it. Are you hungry? Thirsty?"

"I, uh--" Eddie eyed the strangers warily, then glanced down. There was a partially-eaten bar of chocolate and a glass of water on the coffee table. "Thirsty?"

Venom picked up the glass for him instead of letting Eddie move enough so he could reach it. He tipped the glass to Eddie's lips while he said, "You have lost your memory, and you keep losing it over again every few minutes. Will you let me talk to Anne and Dan about this?"

Venom was the one who knew what the hell was going on, and it wasn't like Eddie wasn't happy to let Venom handle the stuff Venom was better at. He couldn't think of what that was, exactly, but he knew there was stuff like that. It was the whole point of having a symbiote. You had to trust them to do what you couldn't.

Okay, V.

Thank you, Venom said, to him alone, and then he turned his head toward the strangers. Had he said their names? Eddie kept drinking his water and watched them.

"Can you help? Does he have to be scanned? I don't know how to fix this."

There was a shiver in Venom's thoughts around the idea of Eddie being scanned; it was something bad. "No scan," Eddie mumbled, turning his head away from the water.

"Well," the man by the door said, "We can check some other things first. Venom, Anne told me a little about how it worked when she was your host--"

Eddie snarled, lunging in the woman's direction, even if Venom didn't let him move more than a few inches. She flinched back, wide-eyed, retreating toward the door. "Venom is mine. We are us."

The woman raised her hands in a placating gesture. "It was very, very temporary. I was just bringing him back to you, Eddie."

Eddie shifted his wary look to the guy. "Why do you care how it works? You shopping for a symbiote?"

"I'm a doctor," he said, taking a few steps closer and stepping between Eddie and the woman--like a human body in the way would help, if she was their enemy. "My interest was strictly about how Venom affected Anne's body, or yours. When Venom first joined with you, it was hard on you, physically. Obviously you've adjusted now--"

Venom rippled with anxiety, something close to guilt, and Eddie frowned and petted him, not liking that sensation even if he had no idea what it was about. He was tired and sore, and he wanted Venom to feel happy, and...

Eddie rubbed a hand over his face and stretched. "I should take a shower, huh?"

Not right now, Eddie. I'm talking to our friends about why you lost your memory.

Eddie jerked, the awareness slamming back into him that he had lost his memory and didn't know where he was, or who these people were. Venom called them our friends, though. Venom wasn't exactly the type to make a new best friend any time he spent five minutes with another person, so they must be really friends. "Okay."

"Venom," the guy said. "You can feel and sense pretty much everything going on in Eddie's body, right? Even in his brain? We can avoid scanning if you can just tell us what's going on in there."

"I can tell!" Venom's head bobbed with enthusiasm. "I know Eddie's brain very well."

The guy nodded. "Okay, so--in the last few days, especially in the last few hours before Eddie started being confused, was there any bleeding in his brain? Even just for a little while, even if you fixed it right away?"

Venom manifested a few extra coils to wrap protectively around Eddie. "No. No bleeding. Blood goes round and round and doesn't leak."

The guy nodded again. "Good, good. How about blockages, even small ones, in any of the blood vessels?"

Venom shook his head. "No, never. I would know and fix it right away."

"Thanks, V," Eddie muttered, leaning his cheek against Venom. He was tired, and sore, and he could really probably just let Venom handle whatever this was.

How about some chocolate, Eddie, Venom said, and it wasn't exactly a question. Eddie blinked and shrugged and opened his mouth, letting Venom bring a chocolate bar to his lips so he could take a bite.

"What about any scarring or any places where tissue is missing? Even if it's always been like that, since you first met?"

"No, my Eddie is healthy. He has a perfect brain. Very nice, very good condition."

"Okay," the guy said, tapping at something on his phone, frowning at whatever results it showed him. "Okay, what about--can you feel the activity in Eddie's brain? The electrical-chemical signals?"

"Yes," Venom said again, but there was a shiver of anxiety, something close to guilt, and Eddie frowned and petted him, not liking that sensation even if he had no idea what it was about. He was tired and sore, and he wanted Venom to feel happy, and...

Eddie rubbed a hand over his face and stretched. "I should take a shower, huh?"

Shh, Eddie, stay still please. Venom tightened his grip and put a glass of water to Eddie's lips, and Eddie drank it, frowning around as he did. There were people he didn't know in the room--but Venom hadn't taken the driver's seat and hadn't killed them yet or removed Eddie from the room, so they must be okay.

"So you know what the activity in Eddie's brain usually feels like?" The guy said. "There are... patterns of activity, distributed throughout his brain?"

"Yes," Venom agreed. "The patterns are very beautiful."

"I... imagine they would be," the guy said, nodding. "Have they been abnormal at all in the last few hours or days? In particular, have there been any instances where there was a very strong and disorganized burst of activity, maybe concentrated in just one part of Eddie's brain, lasting seconds or minutes?"

That sounded like it would probably be bad.

"No," Venom said. "His brain is perfect, why can't he remember?"

"Well, it sounds like we've ruled out stroke, brain damage, and epilepsy. He hasn't had a head injury today or in the last few days?"

"I would have said that first," Venom said, starting to sound annoyed. Eddie patted him soothingly, and Venom tugged him to lean into Venom's hold, pillowing his cheek against a coil placed just right to cradle it.

"Right," the guy said. "Well, I'm not a neurologist, but I don't think it's worth dragging Eddie out for a second opinion, not if he's not in any distress aside from the amnesia."

"His blood pressure is higher than usual," Venom grumbled. "And he has amnesia."

"Sure," the guy said gently. He was good at this, better at staying calm while talking to Venom than Eddie was himself. He should be a doctor or something--he had the bedside manner thing and if Venom didn't shake him probably nothing would.

"If his blood pressure and heart rate are elevated, that's probably because being in a strange place every two minutes is stressful. I haven't had a chance to do a lot of research, but from what you've said and what I've observed, I think Eddie is experiencing something called Transient Global Amnesia. It should resolve within a day at most, usually within eight hours from when it began. Do you know when this started?"

"Approximately an hour before I texted Anne," Venom said. "We took a shower. I thought Eddie was just tired and wanted a shower, but then he kept saying it, exactly the same every time."

The guy nodded. "That's a typical feature, getting stuck on an idea or question and repeating it verbatim, like replaying a recording. The length of time that he can stay oriented will get longer as he starts to come out of it, and he'll start to recover memories of the past, probably from childhood first, then more recent things. If he doesn't start showing those signs of recovery by--" Dan glanced at his phone, "midnight or so, then we may need to check whether something else is going on."

"But if he does recover he'll be okay? He's not permanently hurt?"

"Not if it's TGA," the guy said. "Usually with TGA there's a precipitating event--some kind of physical or emotional stressor just beforehand--"

Venom twitched, tightening his grip, and Eddie felt a shiver of anxiety, something close to guilt. Eddie frowned and petted him, not liking that sensation even if he had no idea what it was about. He was tired and sore, and he wanted Venom to feel happy, and...

Eddie rubbed a hand over his face and stretched. "I should take a shower, huh?"

"Not now, Eddie," Venom said, bringing up a bar of chocolate in front of his face. Eddie frowned at it, and then realized there was a guy standing a few strides away, just watching him and Venom, and a woman standing pressed against the door, and--

"You lost your memory, Eddie. It's going to get better. Eat some chocolate."

Huh. Well. Venom would know, probably. Eddie obviously didn't, and if he couldn't trust his symbiote to handle things there was no point to any of this. Eddie ate some chocolate.

"So," the guy said. "Was there something? Something physically strenuous, maybe, that made Eddie feel like he needed a shower?"

Venom squeezed closer to Eddie, some of him sinking back through Eddie's skin. "It's private. Eddie says we don't talk about it to people who we don't do it with."

A weird choked noise, a laugh or a shriek cut off sharply, drew Eddie's eyes to a blonde woman standing by the door; her eyes went wide when Eddie accidentally made eye contact, and she darted out the door and shut it firmly behind her.

Eddie squirmed a little, assessing the kind of sore and tired he felt. He couldn't remember ever feeling it before, but it did seem like a very particular kind of feeling.

"Ah," the dark-haired guy said. "Not asking for specifics, but... sexual activity is known to have been a precursor in some cases."

"Eddie liked it," Venom said, defensively. "His brain was practically overflowing. He was happy, more than happy. We liked it and we can do whatever we want if we're private and we both like it."

The guy was nodding cautiously. "That's... fine then. Eddie's been through a lot of stressors in the last few weeks, physically and emotionally. It might be that one more intense thing, even something he liked a lot, was a little too much for his brain to handle. No one really knows why TGA happens, or what the exact neurological mechanism is."

"So..." Venom's coils were moving all around Eddie, fidgeting. "Will it happen again? If we..."

The guy pressed his lips together and looked down, and Eddie thought he might be fighting laughter and not anything worse. He snuggled into Venom, petting him reassuringly.

"Obviously, uh, your and Eddie's case is... not exactly like the others that have been observed. But TGA usually doesn't recur, even after a similar precipitating event. So I would... take it easy, but as far as I know it should be fine. I can't guarantee that, of course, and you and Eddie should definitely, um, discuss the risks before you..."

"Of course we will discuss it," Venom said. "We will not risk hurting us."

"Yeah," Eddie muttered, "But..." He squirmed, thinking about what they must have been doing to make him feel like this. "I mean, some things are worth--"

"Anyway, let me know if he's not improving," the guy interrupted. "I'll just... go find Anne. Venom, try to just keep him calm, let him sleep if he wants to. There's nothing to do for it but wait."

"Thank you for coming," Venom said, with weird, scrupulous politeness. "We will take care of us."

The guy nodded firmly and slipped out the door, never quite turning his back on them. The door shut, and Eddie let his eyes close, snuggling into Venom until the vague urge to get up and move got to him.

Eddie rubbed a hand over his face and stretched. "I should take a shower, huh?"

Venom was half-manifested, wrapped all around him and holding him close, and now he tightened, rubbing smooth coils over Eddie's skin. Already clean, Eddie. Let's go to bed, you need some sleep.

"It's still light--" Eddie protested, but he didn't get through the word out before his mouth stretched wide in a yawn. Venom nudged him up to his feet, and Eddie let himself be steered to the bed. It seemed strange--he didn't know this bed, this place--but Venom was here, and Venom wouldn't tell him to go to sleep if they weren't safe.

Still. "Got the locks?"

Of course, Eddie. He felt Venom extend tendrils to the door and windows, securing all of them at once, and he closed his eyes. Venom curled around him, blocking out the daylight from his eyes, covering his ears to quiet any noises that might disturb him, cradling his whole body so that the sagging, creaky mattress might as well have been a cloud of memory foam.

Then he wasn't in a strange place at all, and sleep came almost instantly.

Eddie woke up with Venom wrapped thoroughly around him. He groaned and put a hand to his face, but instead of totally retracting, Venom just opened a space, making a little bubble of not-quite-total-darkness around Eddie's hand and face.

"Not time to get up yet, V?" Eddie couldn't say he minded sleeping in a bit more; he felt drowsy and cozy and good, and nothing was better than being right here.

Not yet, you can sleep more.

"'Kay," Eddie agreed, snuggling back into the blackness. He didn't quite want to go back to sleep; this perfect contentment should be savored. He knew, though, that he would fall asleep soon enough, in the close heavy warmth of Venom wrapped around him.

He was on the edge of it when Venom said, Tell me a story, Eddie.

Eddie snorted. "A story? Am I tucking you into bed now? What--"

Even while he was teasing Venom he was groping for a good story to tell--a movie he'd seen or something funny that had happened to him before--before--

He couldn't remember. His brain went blank at the realization.

A story about when you were small, Venom said, filling in that cold empty space. A story about someone taking care of you almost as well as I do.

"When I--I can't--" But Eddie realized that that wasn't true, because the memory came to him in the next second. "Oh, how about--did I tell you I got my tonsils out when I was seven? It's surgery, but just a minor thing, lots of kids have it. I got sick too much, so they took out these glands that were holding on to the viruses. My dad had to work when I went to the hospital, but my mom took me and it was fine, it was whatever."

You weren't frightened? Or was the sickness so terrible?

"Eh," Eddie said, curling a hand into Venom's substance and tugging it in like pulling a blanket tighter around himself. Venom squeezed him all over, knowing what he wanted. "Yeah, I was pretty scared, I guess? I was little. But they knocked me out so I slept through the whole thing, and I barely even woke up in recovery. Just enough to get released and I was zonked out again. So it wasn't until right before my dad got home from work that I woke up and saw my mom had left a present by my bed--blue balloons and a new teddy bear half as big as I was. I pulled it right into bed with me to cuddle with, and there was a card. It said Love, Mom and Dad, of course."

Even though your father did not care enough to be present when his offspring was suffering.

Eddie snorted softly, and swallowed against the memory of pain in his throat. "He had to work, V. Had to keep me in popsicles and pay the hospital bills and everything. And he came right up to my room when he got home--Mom was in the kitchen, probably, making dinner--and I'm lying there with this giant new teddy bear, and the card open on my pillow, and he comes in all ready to surprise me with this bunch of red balloons and this crazy stuffed monkey with these huge long arms and legs, and a card that said Love, Mom and Dad."

He had felt helplessly guilty and anxious, unsure how to fix the situation, because of course then his parents had fought about it--who should have told who they'd already gotten a present, who shouldn't have spent so much money on something silly. He'd known they would, as soon as he saw the look on his dad's face.

His throat had hurt, and he wasn't really supposed to talk, but Eddie had still forced himself to play up his eagerness for more balloons and the monkey so his dad would smile. He'd tried so hard that he'd started drooling blood right before his mom came up to check on him, and that had gotten the fight off to an exciting start, his parents' voices icy over his head as they cleaned his face and peered down his throat before they retreated to the hallway to really get going.

But Eddie had gone to sleep, that night and for years after--until he finally decided he was too old for it--cuddled up with his back to the huge teddy bear and the monkey held against his front, its limbs wrapped around him so it couldn't get separated from him.

We will not get separated, Venom informed him, wrapping tighter around him. And you will never be too old to be us.

"I know, V," Eddie murmured, his brain still circling dimly around the question of what had ever happened to those stuffed animals. He fell asleep before he found an answer.

Eddie blinked awake feeling vaguely sweaty, like he'd slept in his clothes or with Venom wrapped a little too tightly around him. He blinked at the clock, and then at the slanting light through the windows, and it took a minute for those facts to make sense together.

It was after 7 PM and he was just waking up. Venom was still wrapped around him like a blanket, but already receding to let him move. Eddie was wearing a t-shirt and pajama pants, and he was pretty sure he'd gone to sleep last night--Saturday night--in nothing but boxer-briefs. Weird, but even before Venom he'd been prone to put on or take off clothes without waking up all the way, if he was too warm or cold or whatever.

Eddie rubbed a hand over his face and stretched. "V? Is it still Sunday? Wait, shit, we were gonna have a stay-in date."

As he spoke, though, he remembered that he'd woken up once already--if that hadn't been a dream. It had been early on Sunday morning, rain pattering against the windows, and Venom had been running a tendril over Eddie's morning wood through his boxers. They'd been working up to doing more than jerking-off-with-tentacle-assist, which had been plenty for the week since they'd first tried it.

Today was supposed to be the day. Venom had been all excited about them having a date and Eddie had caught his eagerness for it--not just the sex, but making an occasion of it, choosing a day and setting aside time when they could really enjoy themselves.

We did, Venom informed him, and with the words Eddie felt a shiver of anxiety, something close to guilt. Eddie frowned and petted him, not liking that sensation even if he had no idea what it was about.

"We did what, V?"

Our date. We had our date. It was good.

Eddie squinted at the clock and the windows again and racked his brain for anything beyond a little half-awake touchy-feely from this morning. Still nothing.

He rubbed his head, but it didn't hurt anywhere. He hadn't been drunk since that awful night when he'd finally come home from the hospital, still thinking Venom was dead. He'd woken up to a hangover and Venom's growling about Eddie trying to kill them both for good this time.

He'd thought his skull would crack from the pain Venom still wasn't strong enough to heal, and cried for sheer happiness.

Last night hadn't been anything like that. He'd been tired--he'd spent a long day answering questions from a couple of suits from the EPA, of all people, about what had happened the night Carlton Drake died. Apparently the cleanup in the Bay was set to go on for months and they really, really wanted to know who to blame and/or bill for it. Eddie had spent hours carefully editing himself to make sure he gave them no reason to suspect that Venom was still with him. He hadn't needed anything to help him sleep at the end of the night, just snuggled into Venom with a promise that tomorrow would be more fun and dozed right off.

I was roofied by the EPA flashed across his mind, the clickbait headline dancing before his eyes. Then it occurred to him that given what Venom had and hadn't said, it was a lot more likely he'd been roofied--accidentally, no doubt--by someone closer to home.

Eddie rubbed his forehead and sat up. He wasn't as hungry as he'd expect to be at this point, but when he looked kitchen-ward he could see both bags of tater tots that had been in the freezer were now in the trash, so Venom must have been snacking while Eddie slept, keeping them both fed.

"Did you," Eddie said, struggling to think of how to phrase it as un-accusingly as possible. "V, did you, uh--"

I didn't mean to, Venom said, and then added defensively, Dan said no one knows why it happens, anyway. It might not even be because of me.

Eddie's head jerked up like it was on a string. "You--Dan said? Dan who lives with Anne who we're not telling that you're still here?"

There was a palpable silence. Venom finished retreating under his skin. Eddie pressed his face into his palms and wondered, without really wanting to know, where his phone was.

"V? Come on, babe, whatever it is we'll deal with it, just tell me what happened."

We had our date and it was good, Venom said. See?

Eddie sagged back onto the bed, staggered by a rush of shared memory--only flashes of the visuals, but scent and sensation and emotion all flooded him, turned up to eleven and on fast-forward. It started like he remembered, drowsily happy and feeling good, and advanced into nakedness and exploration, breathless with laughter as much as pleasure. Venom was still learning Eddie's erogenous zones from his elbows, so he wasn't exactly focused about it, and there was nothing like an agametic alien's perspective to make you recognize how intrinsically ridiculous human sex was.

And then the sex overtook the ridiculousness, because Venom's teasing exploration of Eddie's ass got really focused when Venom found his prostate. Or--not focused, because he was everywhere, touching everything, feeling everything right along with Eddie, but also fucking Eddie like Eddie had never been fucked before. He'd come, and come again, and--then Venom had done a little manipulation of his circulatory and endocrine systems so he could come again and again and--

It had gone beyond sex at some point, into an impossibly prolonged euphoric high that, reflected through Venom's memory, felt a lot like what Eddie's college friends had told him Ecstasy was going to be like before he tried it. Today, with Venom--they'd been absolutely flying, and Eddie had been crying and laughing and more in love than he'd ever been, more whole than he'd ever been, and Venom had told him how good he tasted and he'd said, "Eat me up, then."

And Venom had--not eaten him, obviously, but--absorbed something from him, lessening the sensation, easing the pressure of joy inside him. Eddie had been slightly sobered up by whatever it was. He still felt amazingly good, but he was able to come back to Earth, cuddle into Venom and doze a while, thinking vaguely that he really, really needed a shower no matter how efficiently Venom could reabsorb fluids off his skin.

"Okay," Eddie said after a while, dazed even by that skim through Venom's memory of it, achingly hard and breathless and struggling to focus on the actually important things here. "That seems like... it was really good, you're right."

You wanted to take a shower, Venom said, not data-dumping this part into his brain, still feeling wary and careful enough that it wasn't hard for Eddie to shift gears from reliving mind-blowing sex to making sure they were okay. You said it, and then you kept saying it, and then you didn't know where you were or what was going on.

Eddie pressed a hand to his chest. "Did I--I wasn't scared of you, V, was I? Because--"

You knew me. I was the only thing you knew.

Oh, well. That was all right, then.

I couldn't see what was wrong, or why you forgot, or how to fix it. And it didn't stop. You kept being confused and scared and every time we got you calmed down it happened again. So I used your phone.

Eddie closed his eyes and skritched his chest, coaxing Venom to emerge. Venom pressed up against his palm, letting Eddie pet him. "That's... that was the right thing to do, V. That was good. You took good care of me. Did you..."

But Eddie didn't have Dan's number, only Anne's, so Venom would have had to tell Anne something was wrong to get Dan to see them.

They came here. I didn't think I could keep you calm if we went outside--in here was bad enough. They saw us. But they weren't angry, they helped. Dan asked lots of questions to make sure you weren't hurt and didn't need to be scanned.

"Not getting any scans, babe."

Venom slid up to his throat and tucked an end between his neck and shoulder. Eddie leaned a cheek against him, rubbing a little because he knew Venom liked the feel of his stubble.

I didn't tell them about our private things. Just that we were private. I think Anne guessed what that meant, though. She went outside after I said that.

Eddie sighed and wondered if maybe it would be better to just never find his phone. Then he'd never have to have that conversation.

But Anne knew Venom was back, so if she didn't hear from Eddie for a few days, she'd come looking, and she wouldn't quit.

"Good," Eddie muttered. "That's the right thing to say. Although, uh, if a doctor asks, if somebody's hurt or sick, you can tell them about private stuff like that. But obviously it was fine, whatever you told Dan."

He said you had Transient Global Amnesia and you would get better and I should let you sleep. He said it doesn't usually happen again after it gets better. I looked on the internet while you were sleeping and the internet said the same thing.

"Okay," Eddie said, and then ran back through what Venom had said and how he'd said it, and what he hadn't said, assembling it into a little narrative arc, cause and effect and unspoken biases and motives.

"V," Eddie said slowly. "Did you freak out because you thought you broke my brain with sex, like literally fucked my brains out, and now that we're pretty sure you didn't, you want to go again?"

Venom rubbed at Eddie's dick through his pajama pants. He wasn't really hard anymore, but he would be pretty quick if Venom kept that up. I also thought I might have broken your brain by drinking up the pleasure from your brain.

Eddie closed one eye, squinting thoughtfully at the ceiling as he tried to translate that into human. When he was in the hospital after Drake, while he thought Venom was dead, Dan had made sure Eddie got all kinds of blood work done, not just whatever was normal for somebody who'd nearly died from a spaceship exploding on them.

Dan had told him that he had some weirdly drastic deficiencies in some of his neurotransmitters, long complicated names he'd forgotten as soon as Dan read them off. Dan had theorized that Venom had been consuming those brain chemicals--happiness ones, Eddie remembered that. They were happiness chemicals. Dan had wanted Eddie to watch for signs of depression and be prepared to go on antidepressants if his levels didn't bounce back soon--but Venom had come back and Eddie hadn't had any trouble feeling happy once he had his symbiote back.

That didn't mean Venom wasn't still eating his neurotransmitters. His happiness. Jerking off together had seemed to make Venom less hungry, calmer. He'd gained practically all his strength back in the past week, without them having to eat any people at all since that enforcer at Mrs. Chen's.

"Well," Eddie said, sliding his hand down to join the coil of Venom rubbing against his dick. "Seems like you didn't do me any major damage. And if we stick with, like, one or two orgasms at a time we'll probably be fine."

Dan said we should talk about the risks.

"How about we stop talking about Dan, baby," Eddie said, tugging at the waistband of his pajama pants enough for Venom to get the idea and peel them off for him, and his shirt too.

Venom took hold of him with a dozen coils at once even as he said, I don't want you to be lost, Eddie. You were lost. We can't lose you again.

"Wasn't," Eddie murmured, spreading his legs and sliding his hand down to his dick, since Venom wasn't touching him anywhere interesting yet. "I had you. I knew you. Can't be lost if I got you."

Venom let out a growl that was nearly a purr, vibrating Eddie's bones and over his skin. Venom curled a tendril down over Eddie's hand, tugging it gently away from his dick, but instead of taking over for him, Venom focused on stroking over his fingers, caressing him everywhere, making him aware of every nerve-ending, as if his hand was as deserving of pleasure as any other part of him.

All of you should feel good, Venom agreed.

"Yeah, okay, fair enough," Eddie said, rubbing his cheek against Venom again. "But the goal is driving me a little less out of my breakable human mind than last time, right? So, you know, probably okay to get right down to--"

Venom curled one coil gently around his throat, another around his left hand, caressing it like the right, slowly and sweetly. Eddie felt a surge of feeling that wasn't his except in the sense that it was given to him as a gift: a desire to be tender and careful and thorough and indulgent, after a horribly stressful day Eddie couldn't actually remember.

Eddie closed his eyes and let his head fall back. He couldn't argue with that, and wouldn't want to if he could. "I love you too, V."

We know. Even when we don't know anything else.

Eddie smiled and closed his eyes, surrendering himself to feeling what Venom wanted him to feel, inside and out.

Venom wrapped thick coils around his chest and thighs, lifting him off the bed just enough that nothing but Venom touched his skin. He was cradled and caressed and securely held all at once, and he'd barely absorbed that before Venom was wrapping one tendril around his dick, silky smooth and slippery-but-not-wet like no other touch he'd ever felt. He could never mistake Venom's touch for any other.

Venom stroked him slowly, a steady little ripple from base to head, and Eddie moaned softly, wriggling around as he hardened just to feel how Venom let him have some room to move but never stopped holding him steady. He closed his hands to squeeze back against the tendrils stroking him there, and a new touch started, brushing up the insides of his thighs. He spread his legs wider, and the touch moved higher, engulfing his balls to make him gasp, then moving on to puddle up against his hole. The swirling, frictionless touch made him shiver, made his skin prickle on the crown of his head and all the way down his spine to where Venom was lapping at him.

The touch on his dick shifted so he was getting that same swirling touch on his dick, ebbing and flowing at the most sensitive spots as he hardened. Eddie licked his lips, wanting to return those kisses. "V, c'mere."

We are here, Venom's voice rumbled with a hint of a laugh, but he also poked his head up beside Eddie's, flicking his tongue out to brush Eddie's nose and cheek. It was the closest you could get to nuzzling without a nose or lips, and Eddie beamed at him, then let his mouth fall open in invitation.

Come on, come here.

Venom's tongue brushed delicately over his lips, barely dipping inside, and at the same time Venom's tendril was pressing just barely inside his ass. Eddie chased the kiss and rocked his hips as much as Venom's grip allowed. When he took the tip of Venom's tongue into his mouth, sucking deliberately on the end with a smirk, Venom pushed just that far inside him--a slick, tapered inch.

Eddie sucked harder, filling his mouth with the taste of Venom--darkness and electricity and chocolate and copper--and Venom reciprocated, easing deeper into him, still ebbing and flowing but inside him now. The touch on his dick tightened, and Eddie jerked his head back to gasp, pleasure sharpening suddenly from lazy enjoyment into something urgent, necessary as oxygen. "Yeah, yeah, V, that's--"

Venom pressed deeper into him, stretching him wider, teasing at his rim and stroking over his prostate, tightening his grip to hold Eddie absolutely still when he tried to jerk his hips. Being pinned in place only made his dick harder, pushed him closer to that edge. "V, Venom, I--"

Venom stroked his cheek softly and flicked his tongue out to snap wetly against Eddie's nipple, and Eddie let out a wordless moan as his brain filled up with Yes, yes, more more more.

Yes, Venom echoed, and the surge inside Eddie was fucking him now, fast and hard and right at the sweet edge of pain, perfect the way it could only be with someone who lived on this side of your nervous system. The touch around his dick turned wetter, and Eddie opened his eyes to see Venom's thick pink tongue wrapped around him, and all those teeth poised just above him, and his mind went white with the stunning certainty that he should be afraid and couldn't possibly be, because those were his teeth and tongue every bit as much as his dick. We are us.

He came, and watched Venom licking it up, and felt Venom drinking up the feeling of it from the inside. There was still plenty left to stretch Eddie's mouth in a sloppy grin, and he rolled over to press his face into the soft blackness of Venom, still holding him up off the bed, wrapping all around him again like a blanket. He could get used to this version of after-sex cuddling.

You will have plenty of time to get used to it.

"Gonna keep me, huh?"

Venom tightened around him. Always. You are always mine. Even if you forget you are, you still are.

"How'm I supposed to forget that?" Eddie ran a hand over whatever bit of Venom was easiest to reach, felt the silky surface ripple under his touch. "We're us. You'd never leave me long enough for me to forget."

He lay there a while longer, before it finally got to him that he'd been in bed basically the entire day, and he really had to at least call Anne soon, if he wanted to get their next conversation over with in a minimally embarrassing way. He stretched and Venom stretched with him, keeping him suspended off the bed, keeping hold of every inch of him.

He sat up and Venom followed, still clinging all over his skin, and Eddie smiled as he shook his head. "I gotta take a shower, V."

Venom's head popped up right in front of his, eye-to-eye; Eddie just raised his eyebrows. "Say that again."

Eddie squinted; Venom squinted right back, his eyes narrowing to white swooshes. "I... need to take a shower, V. We? We need to take a shower? Is this a trick question?"

Venom drew back into him, leaving just one tendril looped loosely over his shoulders and around his neck. No. I just wanted to hear you say it.

Eddie smiled, filled with baffled fondness as he got up and walked to the shower to find that Venom--it had to have been Venom--had hung the towels up neatly after the shower Eddie didn't remember taking, so they were almost dry again. "Anytime, V. Just let me know."