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To Dine so Dark

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“Dan’s made a new friend at the hospital, and he’s invited us to dinner this Friday.”

Only half paying attention, Eddie shuffles around the countertop, picking at the veggie platter Anne had hauled out of the fridge when Venom had made his stomach growl. The symbiote had been pouting ever since.

Of course, Anne still doesn’t know that Venom’s back. It’s going on six months since the whole thing with the Life Foundation, and life is pretty stellar. Eddie’s got a job at a liberal journal that prints weekly and has a booming blog following. It doesn’t pay great, but it’s better than fast food, and he likes it. The millennial in charge is bloodthirsty for corrupt politicians, and she used to be a fan of his. It’s nice to work with like-minded people.

“Eddie, are you listening?” Anne’s voice cuts into his thoughts.

Eddie crunches on a carrot and shrugs. “Sorry. Dan made a friend at the hospital?”

She swipes a piece of broccoli off the platter and throws it at him. Of course, he catches it and proceeds to eat that too.

“He used to be a surgeon or something,” Anne says, rolling her eyes a little, “but he likes to cook fancy food as a hobby. He invited Dan and I to dinner.”

“Alright,” Eddie says, nodding along. “You don’t like him or something?”

Anne gives him an appraising look, and he shrinks into himself a little. Ruffled, Venom forces him back into a better posture. They don’t like it when he does that.

“So…?”

Anne sighs, exasperated. “I asked if he wouldn’t mind another person tagging along.”

Eddie stiffens. “No, thanks.”

“Eddie— “

“—come on, Anne! You know I’m not great at stuff like that.” Eddie sighs and scratches at the back of his head. “I don’t even own any nice clothes.”

“Oh, you could borrow one of Dan’s suits. You’re about the same size, and I know he wouldn’t mind.” Anne smiles hopefully, and Eddie slumps.  He nearly startles when Venom grumbles. It’s rare for them to go silent so long nowadays. Eddie’s much better at communicating with them now. Back-and-forth conversations via thought are what keep Eddie out of the mental hospital…or worse, whatever super-powered facility Tony Stark’s running now.

Don’t do it, Eddie.

Look at her face, V.

You’re weak for Anne.

Eddie knows, and Venom’s a bit less tolerant of his fondness for her than they had been initially. They like Anne, but they like Eddie more, and when it comes right down to it, Venom’s a possessive bastard.

“Please, Eddie?” She sticks her bottom lip out and lifts her eyebrows.

“Alright, fine,” Eddie concedes and pops another carrot into his mouth. “So it’ll just be the four of us?”

Venom grumbles about being excluded.

Sorry, buddy. You know I can’t tell her. Besides, you and me? We’re us, right? One and the same?

Eddie shudders happily when Venom’s joy floods his senses. Yes, Eddie. One.

“Five,” Anne chirps, drawing Eddie’s attention again. Her guilty expression is a red flag.

Sensing a trap, he asks. “Who else?”

She hunches a little. “His husband.”

“Aw, hell no!” Eddie flails dramatically as he speaks. “I don’t wanna be a-a fifth wheel! God, what even is that? No way, Annie!”

“You’re going,” she says, smiling like the cat that got the canary when the front door opens behind her. “That’ll be Dan now. I’ll let him know.”

“Annie,” Eddie pleads as she shuffles near the door press a kiss to Dan’s cheek.

“Riot,” she sings back.

“You can’t keep using that against me!”

Venom chuckles where only he can hear. She saved our bacon, Eddie.

“You would take her side,” Eddie hisses under his breath just as Dan comes into the kitchen.

Mmm, Venom rumbles excitedly, we should get bacon later.

“Oh, hey Eddie,” Dan says brightly, not even questioning Eddie’s poorly aborted chuckle.

“Hi,” Eddie manages.

Dan looks apologetic. “She told you about the dinner? I told her you wouldn’t want to go.”

“Yeah, well.” Eddie waves a hand in her direction as she comes back into the kitchen, then moves to put the veggie platter away. “You know Anne. How can I say no?”

Dan nods empathetically. “Yeah, we both have that problem.”

They share a fond grin that has Anne raising a brow. “Should I let you two have the room?”

Eddie blushes, but Dan only laughs.

“Alright, what the hell should I expect on Friday,” Eddie says around an awkward, fake cough, “and where are we meeting?”