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In All These Little Ways

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[1.]

After the fifth time in one day that Eddie picks up his phone, pulls up Anne’s number, stares at it and puts the phone back down without dialing, he can feel Venom unfurling from the corner of his mind where the symbiote usually is, doing…whatever it is he does when he’s not commentating Eddie’s poor life decisions.

We will never win her back if we do not call.

“We’re not going to try to win her back,” Eddie tells him severely. “She’s got Dan now.”

Then we will bite Dan’s head off.

“Hey, hey, no!” Eddie says. “We are doing nothing of the sort. Dan’s a good guy, okay? No head-biting.”

Venom makes a disgruntled noise in Eddie’s head; he’s clearly still mad about the MRI thing. Not that Eddie can blame him, but Dan meant well. Eddie kind of likes the guy, really. At that thought, Venom hisses angrily in Eddie’s mind.

You are too soft, Eddie! He is your rival!

“Look,” Eddie says. “I screwed up and Annie dumped me, and that’s on me.” He shrugs. “She’s with Dan now, and they’re happy. And I’m good with that.”

As he says it, he realizes that it is true, mostly. Is he sad that he and Annie are no longer together? ‘Course he is, but – he’s in a better place now than he’s been in since this whole thing began, and in any case, he can’t bring himself to regret the chain of events that’d led him here – not when it’d also brought him Venom. He’s growing fond of his alien, damn it.

There’s a pleased-feeling little tickle in the back of Eddie’s head, the part he’s starting to think of as Venom’s.

Hungry. Can we have some chocolate?

“Aw, now you’re just taking advantage of my good mood,” Eddie complains.

Yes, says Venom, not even bothering to deny it. His head materializes from Eddie’s arm and snaps up the piece of chocolate Eddie’s taken out of the fridge. Why do you want to call Anne?

“Oh.” Eddie fidgets a little. “I just thought, maybe I’d invite her and Dan out for dinner to apologize for the whole, er, eating-live-lobsters-out-of-the-tank thing.”

They were delicious.

“For you, maybe.”

Humans are so peculiar. Venom gulps down another mouthful of chocolate. Fine, go call Anne.

“Er, well.” Eddie makes a face, rubbing at the side of his neck sheepishly. “Thing is, I’m not so sure they even want to hang out with me. I’ve caused them a fair bit of trouble and all.”

Venom’s head swings around to stare hard at Eddie. If they think you are a bother, we will bite both their heads off!

Eddie squints at Venom, who looks back at him, expressionless.

“I thought you liked Annie,” he says.

We do like Anne. But if she thinks you are a bother, we will bite her head off.

“Gee, uh, thanks. That’s sweet of you.”

Call her, Eddie! demands Venom, then dematerializes back into Eddie’s body save for a single tendril, which picks up Eddie’s phone and shoves it at him.

Eddie ducks purely by reflex and narrowly misses getting a phone-shaped bruise on his face. “I don’t think – ”

Pussy!

“Oh my god.” Eddie grabs the phone and starts dialing. “You are seriously the worst, I don’t even know why I let you back in, you – ”

“Hello?” a startled female voice says, tinny through the phone speaker. “Eddie, is that you?”

“Oh, er, hi, Annie,” Eddie says quickly, ignoring Venom’s snickering in his head. “I was just wondering…”

It turns out he needn’t have worried, because Anne and Dan both agree readily to join Eddie for dinner. He even starts hanging out with them regularly after that, and while he’s not quite ready to admit that this all only happened because Venom provoked him into making the call in the first place, by the symbiote’s smug air whenever Eddie goes over to Anne and Dan’s place, he’s pretty sure Venom’s well aware of where the credit lies.

 

 

 

[2.]

“I told you this was a bad idea!” Eddie hisses from where he’s perched precariously on a five-inch-wide ledge twenty stories off the ground, clinging to the concrete wall of the building with nothing but his fingertips. A chill wind whips his jacket violently around him, and he shivers.

Where else were we going to go?

“I don’t know!” Eddie very, very slowly tips his head down to look over the edge of the building, then immediately makes a distressed noise and flinches back against the wall, squeezing his eyes tightly shut. “Just, anywhere but here!”

There are only four men in there. We could take them all out. Easy.

“We’re trying to get information for this assignment,” Eddie mutters. “The point was for them to not know we were here.”

He inches a few more tiny steps along the ledge, but there’s really nowhere for him to go: it’s either back in the window where he came from and get discovered by the mobsters whose meeting he was trying to eavesdrop on, or go all the way to the end until he runs out of ledge, and then it’s a sheer two-hundred foot drop to the ground.

Just his luck that he’d happened to hide in the very room that the mobsters had decided to have their meeting in; he was lucky he’d managed to climb out the window when he’d heard the door opening and narrowly missed getting caught.

He inches a couple of steps closer back toward the window, hoping to overhear a little more information, but instead what he gets is angry yelling from inside the room– sounds like the beginnings of an argument – followed closely by gunshots.

“Shit,” Eddie mutters, frantically inching away from the window again. “Shit, fuck, we’ve gotta get out of here.”

Jump.

“What?” Eddie demands, slightly hysterical. “We’re twenty stories up, I don’t fucking think so!”

Are you going to go back in through that window, then?

“No?!”

Then jump.

“…no.”

I’ll jump.

“No!”

Wuss.

“Still not jumping.” Eddie winces at the sound of another barrage of gunfire coming from inside the window.

Eddie.

“What.”

Jump. I’ve got you.

As the gunfire draws nearer, Eddie squeezes his eyes shut, resigned. “Yeah,” he says, “I know.”

He steps off the ledge.

 

***

 

Venom does, of course, have his back – not that Eddie ever seriously doubted that – but he’s still a little shaky when he gets home. Jumping off a ledge twenty stories up will do that to a guy, even if he knows he’s not going to die.

Still jittery with adrenaline, Eddie grabs a beer from the fridge and curls up under a thick blanket on the couch, then turns the TV on just to have some white noise to settle his nerves. Silently, one of Venom’s tendrils materializes out of his shoulder, then a few more, until Venom’s curled up around Eddie’s shoulders, his head pressed against Eddie’s cheek, ink-dark tentacles wound loosely about Eddie’s arms and gently circling his wrists.

Eddie tilts his head slightly, nuzzling into Venom’s warmth, and all the stress of his narrow escape earlier that evening slowly fades away, feeling like a distant memory.

 

 

 

[3.]

So it turns out that having a scary-strong and nearly indestructible symbiote share your body is fantastic for a career in investigative reporting. Eddie’s never been able to break this many stories in this short a time in his entire life.

It’s gotten to the point where he thinks he might be getting a bit of a…reputation. The subjects of his stories seem to be giving up their information to Eddie like candy nowadays, barely even offering any kind of resistance when he asks them his toughest questions.

The subject of his latest investigation, however, a CEO whom Eddie discovered has been insider trading on the side for years, seems to have decided to take a slightly…different approach, so to speak.

Eddie looks around at the thugs who have him cornered at the mouth of a narrow alleyway which he sometimes uses as a shortcut on his way home, and sighs.

“Guys,” he says, palms spread in a placating manner. “You really don’t want to do this.”

One of the thugs laughs and gestures to his companions, who advance threateningly on Eddie.

Eddie sighs. “Look, don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he says, and hands control over to Venom.

Twenty minutes later, Eddie’s standing in the middle of a heap of eight unconscious bodies, Venom half-materialized and draped over his shoulders. He kneels on the ground to dig through the pockets of one of the goons, pulling out the man’s wallet and flipping through it, looking for an I.D. card, or anything else of interest.

You didn’t even let me eat one, Venom grumbles sulkily. Hungry.

“Maybe next time, darling,” Eddie mutters distractedly, reaching a hand up to pet a tentacle affectionately, then he almost swallows his tongue when he registers the endearment that’d slipped out and the little answering ping of surprise from Venom: where had that come from?

Damn it. Ever since they’d – there’s no other word for it – cuddled on Eddie’s couch that time after his narrow escape from the mobsters, his brain seems to have taken that as permission to think of himself and Venom as…as more-than-friends. Oh boy.

We are more than friends, Eddie. We are one. Bonded.

“Um,” Eddie says. “That’s true, but, er. That wasn’t quite what I meant?”

What did you mean?

Eddie’s saved from having to answer – he doesn’t even know what he meant – by one of the thugs regaining consciousness. Venom slams the guy back into the ground, knocking him out, and Eddie hurries them home before any of the other goons decide to wake up, too. Thankfully, Venom doesn’t bring up the subject of Eddie’s little slip-up again.

The next morning, Eddie’s submitted his report on the insider-trading CEO and is leaving his boss’s office feeling pleased with himself when Venom, apropos of nothing, says in his head, we should ask for a raise.

Eddie blinks, hand already on the doorknob. “What?” he thinks at Venom.

Won’t get anything if you don’t ask.

And – yeah, he’s been thinking about it recently, which is probably where Venom picked up on it from: thanks to the team of Venom and Eddie, The Brock Report is now the top-rated show on its network, and Eddie’s getting the pick of any assignment he wants. He probably could ask for a raise and not immediately get kicked out on his ass.

Do it, Eddie. And after you get your raise, we can go buy chocolate.

Eddie stifles a laugh, and turns back to his boss. “Actually, there was one more thing…”

 

***

 

Later that evening, as he’s sitting on the couch eating dinner in front of the TV, with Venom materialized over his shoulders and busy working his way through a large box of chocolates that Eddie’s been popping into the symbiote’s mouth in between bites of his own food, Venom tells him, with a smug air, told you that you would get that raise, Eddie.

Eddie grins. “Yeah, you were right. Thanks, buddy.”

‘Buddy’? I prefer ‘darling’, Venom tells him slyly, and Eddie feels himself blushing. Guess it was too much to hope for that Venom was going to let that one go.

Or ‘sweetheart’. Or ‘cupcake’. Or…what is a ‘bae’?

“Oh my god. Where are you even getting these from?” Eddie demands.

I have been spending some time with that thing you call a ‘teevee’. It has been very enlightening.

 

 

 

[4.]

Eddie first notices the smoking hot new hire when he walks past him in the office pantry. The dude’s gorgeous, short blond hair and bright blue eyes and the most amazing ass Eddie has ever seen. He gives the guy an appreciative once-over, classifies him as ‘way out of my league’ in his mind and moves on – except Venom, for some reason, has some kind of internal conniption fit and spends the rest of the day insisting that Eddie ask the guy out.

“Hey – look, I don’t actually want to go out with this guy, I don’t even know him. I don’t understand why you’re so upset – ”

Why do you think so little of yourself, Eddie?

“What?”

He is not ‘out of your league’. You are good, Eddie. So much better than all these other humans.

“Wait, that’s what you’re upset about?” Eddie taps the end of his pen on his desk, frowning at nothing in particular.

Ask him out.

“Hey, uh, look, it was just a passing thought, I’m really not, y’know, pining after the guy or something.”

Scared, Eddie?

“Really, this again?” Eddie says. “You think you’re just going to keep goading me into doing things you want me to do?”

Pussy.

“Fuck’s sake.” Eddie can’t help but laugh. “Jesus. Fine. I’ll go ask him out, and he’ll turn me down, then we can all move on with our lives. Happy?”

Yes.

Hot Guy does not turn Eddie down. In fact, they go on a very nice lunch date, and while Eddie’s flattered that someone both that gorgeous and genuinely nice is interested in him, he doesn’t follow up to ask for another date, because…well. Because all he could think about during his date was the little flip his stomach made when Venom told him, warm and fierce: you are good, Eddie.

Because he’s starting to realize that who he really wants isn’t a cute blond colleague: it’s someone decidedly not blond, a little bit more of a smartass and…a lot less human.

Fuck.

 

 

 

[5.]

Friday night sees Eddie introducing Venom to a little more Earth pop culture via the Alien movies. He’s stretched out on the sofa, an overstuffed cushion tucked under his head and Venom materialized and spread out over his chest, a box of chocolates between them as the first Alien movie plays on TV.

He refuses to think of it as snuggling, although that’s pretty much what they’re doing. Bad enough that Venom’s probably already catching bits and pieces of these thoughts that Eddie can’t quite help; Eddie doesn’t need to freak him out even more by actively thinking about how he’s starting to fall for his alien.

“Oh, look,” Eddie says, grateful for the distraction as the first facehugger appears onscreen. He grins. “An alien parasite.”

Venom goes all prickly over him, like an offended cat. Are you trying to tell me something, Eddie?

Eddie laughs. “I’m just teasing,” he says, and smooths a placating hand over the symbiote until Venom settles down again, curling a couple of stray tendrils over Eddie’s arms and legs.

He falls asleep somewhere in the middle of the third movie and wakes up at noon on Saturday to find himself still on the couch, tucked in under his spare blanket and the TV turned off.

As Eddie stretches, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, Venom’s head materializes, blinking at him.

“You did this?” Eddie asks, indicating the blanket he’s covered with. He smiles. “Thanks.”

Maybe. Venom considers him. Hungry. Can we go find some bad guys today?

“Mm.” Eddie stifles a yawn. “Yeah, I guess so. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

That’s how Eddie ends up in the worst part of town late on a Saturday night, fighting some would-be muggers and getting Venom a snack in the process. As date nights go, it’s not quite his usual Saturday night fare, but somehow, Eddie finds himself not minding in the least.

 

 

 

[+1.]

Venom’s been plotting something.

He’s been extra nice to Eddie all week: he’s learnt to make coffee for Eddie while Eddie cooks them breakfast in the mornings, hasn’t suggested eating anyone he shouldn’t, and he’s not made a single sarcastic comment all week (Eddie has to admit, he kind of misses that part a little).

Eddie’s tried to ask Venom what’s going on, but the alien has been frustratingly silent on the matter, keeping his thoughts on the subject carefully shielded.

It’s gotten to the point where Eddie’s a little nervously waiting for the other shoe to drop, so when Venom asks Eddie to let him take control for a couple of hours that weekend and refuses to say why, he thinks, ah, this must be it. He only agrees to hand over control after extracting a promise from Venom to not eat anyone unless he checks with Eddie first.

While in control of Eddie’s body, Venom finds the nearest Target and buys a big bag of tealights and some nice cutlery. While Eddie’s completely stumped trying to figure out when Venom went and got all domestic on him, the symbiote then makes his way to Eddie’s favorite Italian restaurant and orders all of Eddie’s favorite dishes for takeout.

Oh, thinks Eddie.

Back at Eddie’s apartment, Venom puts tealights all over the apartment, lights them and dims the lights in the apartment. He neatly lays out all the food on the table along with the nice new cutlery he’d bought, then gives control back to Eddie.

Eddie looks around his apartment, at the gently flickering tealights and the table laid out nicely with all his favorite foods, and licks his lips nervously, heart thumping rabbit-quick in his chest.

“Wow,” he manages. “Um, the tealights are a nice touch.”

Yes. I have been watching many movies.

“I’ll bet.” Eddie’s eyes crinkle with laughter.

Venom materializes from his shoulder, popping his head up to grin challengingly at Eddie, all sharp teeth and sharper smile, like a large and really dangerous Cheshire cat.

Too much for you, Eddie?

“Oh, come on,” Eddie says, trying and failing not to laugh. “I can take a hint. I’m not as much as a dumbass as you seem to think I am, you know.”

Prove it.

Venom’s tongue snakes out to lick teasingly at Eddie’s lips, and Eddie laughs, giddy with happiness.

“Bring it on, darling,” he says with a grin, and parts his lips eagerly.

 

End.