Venom realizes that something’s wrong on a chilly morning in November when Eddie just won’t get up out of bed. He’s lying awake, staring at the ugly Rorschach of water stains on his ceiling. At first, Venom wants to rouse their other, convince him to get up so that they could get some food, but something stops them. There’s an… emptiness.
Usually upon waking up, Eddie’s head is full of flitting, barely pieced together thoughts. “Gotta piss”, “interview today, 2:30”, “four thousand words by midnight”, “need some breakfast” . These are normal thoughts for a human to have first thing in the morning, and with Eddie, they tend to materialize with a subtle swell of anxiety, which is also relatively normal.
Today, however, all Venom can discern is what could be considered the cerebral equivalent of static. Everything is fuzzy and the thoughts that are trying to surface keep coming up blurry, with no real impulse behind them. The ones that manage to come through even semi-clearly end up getting scrapped before they can fully form.
Of course, this concerns Venom. They immediately rush to check if Eddie was injured at some point in the night and Venom just didn’t realize it. Darting beneath Eddie’s skin, the symbiote checks every inch of his body, every organ, every nerve ending, searching for an inconsistency, any sign of deviation from Eddie’s normal state. When they find nothing, Venom separates from him, extending from Eddie’s collarbone and floating just above his face, their head no bigger than a softball.
The sound reverberates around in Eddie’s head in a husky rumble, and he has to fight the urge to flinch against it. In the silence of the morning, it almost feels like someone’s screaming at him. Doing his best to plaster on a reassuring smile, he tears his eyes from the ceiling and looks into Venom’s milky eyes.
“Hey, bud,” Eddie whispers, voice gravelly. For some reason, the second he speaks, his throat swells up and it feels like he’s about to choke. A hot prickling at the backs of his eyes warns Eddie of the tears waiting to spill over and he has to scrunch his eyes shut in an attempt to suppress them. “S-Sorry.” The word comes out so quiet, so broken, that Venom can’t help but surface their ink around Eddie’s bare shoulders and chest in an attempt to blanket him, to comfort him.
Why are we apologizing?
The wall of static between Eddie’s mind and Venom’s isn’t allowing the symbiote to get a proper read on their human, and it’s sending them into a panic. They can’t help if they can’t figure out what’s wrong. Eddie just shakes his head and shoves the heels of his hands into his eyes. At this, a surge of concern floods through their bond and Venom tilts their head and floats closer, eyes narrowing.
Our body is reacting to pain but there is no source. Where are we hurt?
Eddie almost pulls the bullshit that he does with everyone when they ask how he’s doing on days like these. "I'm fine, don’t worry, just tired”. The words are already on the tip of his tongue but then he realizes that he can’t lie to his other, not really--there’s no use. They’ll figure it out eventually. With a sigh, Eddie drags his hands down his face and brings his gaze back to Venom.
Just thinking about explaining his predicament to the alien drains energy from him. How do you explain something like this? Even other humans have trouble grasping the complexity of chronic depression and its symptoms and effects. Especially this specific classification of it, seeing as there’s not always a trigger or clear source. His head’s just… shitty.
“I, uh,” he breaks off with another sigh when he hears how crackly his voice is. “I can’t explain it too well, V.”
But we want to understand. Want to help.
Despite the overall numbness he’s experiencing, Eddie feels affection blossom in his chest. Doing his best to push it towards Venom’s side of their connection, Eddie raises one of his hands and brushes his knuckles across the side of Venom’s little head. A small smile graces his features as he watches the symbiote preen beneath his touch.
“I know, buddy, I know. It’s just… I dunno it’s hard to put into words. It’s… I mean it’s not a big deal.” Scrunching his eyebrows together, Eddie huffs through his nose and tries to stitch his thoughts together. It’s a lot of effort, especially right now, but he does his best. “My, ah, my brain doesn’t make all the right chemicals it needs to function smoothly.” Venom doesn’t respond but Eddie feels an earnest pulse of energy from them, so he continues.
“Y’know what serotonin is?”
Yes. Humans need it to regulate mood, social behavior, appetite, sleep, and memory.
Venom sounds as if they’re reciting something they’ve read in a textbook, and the idea of the symbiote studying up on human brain function makes Eddie laugh. He chuckles lowly as he nods and runs the back of his hand across the underside of Venom’s chin.
“Yeah, exactly. Well, I’ve got a serotonin deficiency,” he feels a billow of realization roll under his skin as Venom hums their understanding. “So all that stuff y’just said? It’s outta whack for me.” It feels like a gross oversimplification on his part, but all Eddie can do is hope that his counterpart gets the gist of it. There’s a buzzing sensation at the base of Eddie’s skull, and he feels Venom’s inky goo shift around his chest and shoulders. There's a contemplative pause before Venom speaks.
So... our brain has trouble regulating some of the most basic functions necessary for survival?
The honesty of the statement catches Eddie off guard and he barks out a laugh, nearly headbutting Venom. “Well, when ya put it like that,” he snorts.
It’s kind of ridiculous how it takes an alien parasite breaking down his depression to get Eddie to put it in perspective. It’s so habitual for him to downplay his mental illness and act like it doesn't weigh him down nearly every day. He’s usually pretty good at keeping his symptoms in check, at least long enough for him to take care of his obligations, but when he gets bad, it’s like he forgets how to operate.
Obviously, some days are rougher than others, and today just so happens to be one of those days. Still, this is nowhere near the worst he’s ever been, not even close. These sluggish, numb kinds of mood drops tend to blow past in a matter of days, and he tells Venom as much.
“I-I know this prolly doesn’t feel great on your side, but I promise we’ll be back to kickin’ ass and takin’ heads in a few days, okay V?” Even Eddie can feel his attempt at a joke fall a bit flat. The symbiote hums their acknowledgement, though they still seem to be buzzing with a nervous energy.
Eddie can’t help but feel guilty about how this may be affecting them. Venom latched onto him hoping he was a functional enough host, but there’s no way they would have been prepared to be bonded to a human that can’t even human right.
Despite the weird white noise filling Eddie’s head, Venom is able to catch on to his thought process, the spiral of guilt and shame that he’s feeling. Immediately, the symbiote counters the embarrassment with a reassuring squeeze around their human’s torso. Nudging their head beneath his chin, Venom tucks into Eddie, settling just above the hollow of his throat.
No feeling bad. We will be okay. Together.
Sticking out their tongue, Venom gives a gentle lick to the underside of Eddie’s jaw--their version of a kiss. At this, Eddie chuckles fondly, trying his hardest to ignore the pang in his chest. He knows he means a lot to Venom, just as he knows Venom means a lot to him, but it really just feels like a heart shot whenever something like this happens--when he’s reminded that he’s not just a host, but that he is Venom.
Blinking back even more tears, Eddie pulls his blankets up over his chest further, partially covering his symbiote and snuggling them closer to him. With a hum of contentment, he closes his eyes and begins to drift back off. After a few moments, Venom pipes up again.
How can we… make these days better?
Okay, yeah, so maybe Eddie chokes up a bit. The tears he’d been trying to avoid decide to well up again and he has to take a few deep, grounding breaths to hold them back. Mrs. Chen’s DVD’s might end up doing some good after all. Pushing the warm sensation of gratitude towards his other, Eddie smiles genuinely at their tiny floating head, scratching underneath their chin with a finger.
“I dunno, bud, but when I figure it out I’ll let you know, yeah?”
This answer must satisfy the symbiote because instead of responding, Venom simply purrs and snuggles closer to Eddie, literally melting into him. With a small smile on his lips, Eddie drifts back off. He nods off so quickly, he isn’t awake to hear Venom’s whispered promise.
We will be okay, Eddie.