Eddie should have known, but it had been years—over a decade. First, he'd been on general suppressants, and when he got engaged to Anne, he'd gotten something a little more permanent, an implant in his arm. He wasn't planning on having children—at least, not on bearing them himself—and heats were inconvenient. When the plan was to marry a beta, it was selfish, almost cruel, to put them through that, too.
The last time he'd had a heat, he'd been in college. Finals week, the stress had been too much, and he'd burned through the low-level suppressants he'd gotten from the on-campus clinic. It was, to put it lightly, a disaster. The school made special arrangements for him to retake his tests, but there was at least one professor he'd never been able to look in the face again. (Which had made senior year, when their class was the only one that covered a requirement, really, really awkward.)
The whole week was a blur of being too hot, of noises being too loud, of being desperately hungry and yearning for something he couldn't quite define. He'd been detained by medical personnel when he'd leaped over a counter in one of the cafeterias and started helping himself to the entire tray of pork chops—not, sadly, before he'd thrown himself at his happily married professor who'd gently pushed him off and tried and failed to convince him to wait for an ambulance to arrive.
Eddie should have known when he'd torn open and consumed an entire bag of frozen tater tots, but he'd just been to the Life Foundation, and the people under observation there were dead, not fucking everything within reach. Obviously, he was sick. Obviously, he'd been infected with something dangerous, something experimental. Obviously, he needed to track down the only person he trusted and make sure that the information he had on his phone didn't fall into the wrong hands.
Eddie went to the very nice restaurant where Anne Weying was on a date with her new doctor boyfriend. Between snatching food off plates, he tried to explain. Anne's new doctor boyfriend took one look at her ex-fiance's sweating face and said, "Oh, oh, no—"
Eddie didn't listen to what he said. Eddie was too busy climbing into the lobster tank to pry open their delicious shells with his teeth, hunting for the succulent flesh hiding inside. (It was okay. The maître d' had already called an ambulance.)
"He's got an implant!" Anne was telling Dan in the background, but Eddie was enjoying the cool water and the happy crunch-crunch-crunch of each bite.
"It looks like it failed." CRUNCH. CRUNCH. CRUNCH. "At least he's not getting territorial."
"Eddie. Eddie, look, we're going to take care of you, but can you put the lobster down?" Feverish, dazed, Eddie offered Dan a half-eaten lobster. There were plenty more. Eddie snagged another one. "That's—thank you, Eddie, that's very kind."
Eddie woke up in an isolation room. There was a bed, but there was also a stack of pillows and blankets. One wall had a sliding glass door with a set of blinds on Eddie's side that could be drawn across it. There was an intercom, and Dan's voice sounded from it. "Back with us?"
Eddie drew a clumsy hand across his face. He felt a bit distant from himself, like his body was a bike and this was his first time aboard. He knew what to do in theory, but in practice, it was much harder. He slurred an answer: "I think so?"
"You're probably still feeling the sedative the EMTs gave you. It's okay if you're feeling a little woozy."
"Lot woozy." Eddie tried to grab a pillow, but he just swatted it to the floor. "The fuck is wrong with me?"
"Well." Dan took a small pause. "We haven't gotten your full blood work back yet, but it's pretty obvious you're in heat."
"I have an implant," Eddie tried to protest, but the words came out mangled.
The meaning must have come across clear enough, because Dan said, "Yes, but for some reason it stopped working. You really are in heat, Eddie."
"Shit." Eddie thought he was maybe feeling a little better, a little steadier. The room wasn't spinning quite so much. He tried standing. The floor came up to meet him. From his new home on the floor, Eddie asked, "Suppressants?"
"You're, um. You're pretty far along." Eddie knew what that meant, but Dan continued, "It's too late to be effective, and we have no idea how they would interact with your failed implant. By the time we got your blood work back, well—I'm afraid there's no stopping it."
Right. Great. This was exactly what Eddie needed after everything else.
"Your, ah, your current medical contact is Anne Weying." There was an awkward pause. "Is there anyone you want us to call, any alpha that you might—"
"No." The answer came, immediate and almost without any input from Eddie.
"There's also a program, a list of alpha volunteers—"
"No." It was more vehement this time, caught somewhere between a growl and a roar. Softer, "No alphas."
"That's fine." Dan's voice was calm, almost soothing, but something in Eddie, hiding deep in his chest and squirming angrily in his guts, did not want to be soothed. Eddie had little doubt if he were in the room that Eddie would be going for Dan's throat—but then, that was the reason for the intercom. "You can find food, bottled water, and mechanical aids in the cabinet to your left. If you need anything, feel free to press the call button. The room is yours, but we're here to help."
"No help," Eddie said, echoing a voice that spoke inside him, alongside him.
I can fix this, came a thought that was not Eddie's. I can fix this.
The voice was wrong: they couldn't fix this. Like someone having a baby in an elevator, this was happening. Eddie wrenched open the cabinet door. There were several sets of knotted and unknotted dildos, two vibrators, a bullet, and several boxes of condoms. There were also a bunch of snack bars, meal shakes, and bars of chocolate. Instincts guiding him, Eddie went for the chocolate first.
"Yes, good, we need the fuel," said the voice Eddie had started hallucinating as the sedative faded and his heat ramped up.
Eddie ate the chocolate, then went back for the chocolate-chip snack bars. He drank the chocolate-flavored shakes. It didn't satisfy. He wanted something different; he wanted something more. His stomach was finally full, but he hungered. Eddie reached for the smallest dildo, figuring he could work his way up—only for his hand to jerk away. Frowning, he reached for it again—and slammed shut the cabinet door.
"No, we don't need that. I am fixing it."
"I do need this," Eddie said, far past caring how he might look or sound to any medical observer. A hole that was usually closed so tight that his fingers could slide over it like smooth skin was now open, empty. It needed filling. Slick, viscous fluid was seeping out of him, sliding down his thighs in open invitation. "I really, really do." Maybe he should start with something a little bigger—
"I said no." Eddie's hand pressed against the outside of the door, kept it shut. "I can do this."
Minutes passed like eons. Time felt slow and sticky. Eddie felt high on the pheromones he was giving off, every breath in tasting sweet like fresh-baked pastries. The room was an oven, and he was roasting, discarding the hospital gown he was in and wanting to crawl out of his own skin. Sweat dripped down his face, trailed down his back like a too-light caress. His dick was half-hard, but that was nothing compared to the aching, throbbing need further back, further in. He was burning up, but he was shivering, his hands shaking against the fake wood of the cabinet door.
Eddie didn't remember it getting this bad this fast before.
"That should have—" There was a noise of disgust. "You are very poorly designed." Eddie shut his eyes and rested his head against the backs of his hands. He tried to hold on. Almost grudgingly, the voice added, "But delicious."
"Look. I don't know what—" Eddie paused as shudders wracked his body. It felt like every nerve ending was lit up with the need for stimulation. It felt like he had been hollowed out inside in preparation for something just out of reach. It felt like he was dying, and the only cure was either inside this cabinet or inside himself and refused to come out. He needed—he needed. "I don't know what I'm thinking here, but if I don't shove something up myself in the next sixty seconds, I think I really might die. Have a heart attack or a stroke or just, just keel over."
There was a faint feeling like alarm. The voice admitted, "We can't fix this, Eddie."
Eddie gave a laugh like a sob. His voice was a thin thread about to snap as he said, "I know."
"But we are responsible." The voice firmed up, seemed to gain resolve. "We can't fix this, but we can take care of you."
"Yeah, sure." Eddie pried at the cabinet door, his hands free to do his bidding one more. "We're definitely taking care of me."
"Eddie." The voice sounded like it came from right beside him. There was something in the corner of Eddie's vision. Slowly, slowly, he turned his head. Large, blank, white eyes stared back at him. They were attached to a dark, shining face like an oil slick. The face was smiling, exposing rows of sharp teeth and a tongue like a tentacle. "Introductions are in order. I am Venom."
"That's—" Swallowing his first three sentences, Eddie decided to roll with it. It wasn't like his day was going to get any weirder. "Hi, Venom. Can I fuck myself now, or—?"
"We can do it for you." There was a feeling like benevolence, like generosity.
"You know what?" Eddie straightened up, shoved his shoulders back. Whether this was a hallucination or just another twist to the weirdest day of his life, Eddie was open to it. "Fine. Go for it. Do your worst."
Venom sounded offended as he said, "We will do our best."
Eddie's skeptical expression probably did not help. The face disappeared—inside of him, what the fuck—then reappeared on his opposite side. A tongue trailed up the side of his neck. Teeth nipped just to the side of where a bonding bite would be. Eddie's heart did its level best to beat its way out of his chest.
"Make your nest," Venom said. Claws gently traced Eddie's hip bones, attached to hands noodling their way out of Eddie's sides. No, seriously, what the fuck? "We can feel the urge growing."
Eddie stumbled his way to the bed. "Really can't wait that long." He managed to knock the mattress to the floor and that was the extent of it. "Maybe after—after we've taken the edge off."
"Hm." Eddie flopped over onto the mattress, but ended up half on the floor again. Home, sweet hard floor home. "HM."
The voice, Venom, sounded so damn judgmental. Eddie'd like to see him do so well when he was driven most of the way out of his mind by his own body's stupid, stubborn needs. It was a wonder Eddie hadn't tried to hump the chocolate or insert the shake bottle places it wasn't designed to go. It was a miracle he wasn't slumped over in front of the cabinet fucking the largest dildo he could find without regard for any damage he might be doing to himself. It was an act of superhuman self-control that Eddie had made it this far.
"This is acceptable." Long, inky black tendrils flitted out from Eddie's calves to pick him up and push him fully onto the mattress.
The weirder this got, oddly, the easier Eddie found it to accept that he probably wasn't hallucinating. The tendrils pushed his knees apart, and Eddie went with it, spread them wider still. Eddie couldn't help the whine, pitched high in the back of his throat. The tendrils slid up his calves, caressed the underside of his knees, slipped along the inside of his thighs.
Eddie dropped his head back. He closed his eyes. "Please."
Something stroked at his pelvis. Something else curved around the shaft of his dick. Most important of all, something prodded, slippery and blunt, right where he needed it most. It slid in with a wet, obscene sound. Eddie sobbed with the relief of it. It wasn't enough—not yet—but it was a start.
Eddie clutched at the sheets as the pressure inside him paused, pressed in maybe an inch further, then stopped. He swallowed hard and gave it a moment, but nothing happened. "I need, I need more, for you to move, for—for something."
"Eddie. Look at me." Eddie opened his eyes to meet Venom's wide, white gaze from a disconcertingly close distance. The surprisingly smooth black surface of Venom's face brushed up against the tip of Eddie's nose. "Explain. Tell me what you need."
"I need, fuck." Eddie shook his head as he involuntarily clenched against the length inside him. "I need bigger, thicker." His toes curled as the empty feeling faded, replaced by a glorious, dizzying fullness. "I need, um, movement, thrusting, vibration—s-something."
The last word was choked off by the sensation of what could only be described as undulation. It was weird. It was good. The sounds his body was making were almost as gross as they were sexy. The experience was outside anything Eddie would have ever expected. As one tentacle moved inside him, the rest began to explore his body. The one around his dick tugged experimentally. What felt like hands groped at his ass and spread the cheeks so another tendril could press against—into—the hole there. Another, smaller one poked at his belly button. It could not be said enough: what the fuck?
"I need—" Eddie's eyes nearly crossed as he tried to get another look at Venom's mouth.
Taking the hint, Venom slipped his tongue into Eddie's mouth. Embracing the opportunity and the tentacle theme, Venom stuck it down Eddie's throat. The blunt sides of his upper teeth pressed against Eddie's lips. His eyes stared, unblinking, from half an inch away.
Venom's voice sounded from inside Eddie's head again, "You like this."
Half-choking on a tongue like a dick, being poked and prodded by tentacles like over-sized fingers, with alien white eyes examining him as if for the first sign of weakness—Eddie was almost ashamed to admit that yes, he really did. He liked the slowly tightening squeeze of the tentacle wrapping itself around his dick. He liked the hands kneading at his ass-cheeks and the way Venom had figured out thrust for his throat and vibration for right up against his prostate. He liked Venom's creepy, creepy stare. The worst part was, he knew he'd like it even if he weren't dealing with the skewed priorities of a full-fledged heat. What should be the worst, most awkward sex of his life was rocketing ahead of the competition.
It had been half a question, but grew more confident when repeated: "You like this."
Eddie moaned in agreement. He was drooling around Venom's tongue, mouth forced wide open. His jaw ached, and he was into it, speared open at three points and only wanting more.
"We like this."
Another tentacle touched the head of Eddie's dick and slithered its way under his foreskin. It made its way—slowly, carefully—in further. Eddie's fisted hands tore the sheets. The hands on his ass had moved to his hips, holding him down with bruising force. Eddie was really, ridiculously into it, making pained, breathy noises of pleasure. It was too much. It wasn't enough.
"We want more."
Eddie was crying with it, tears forming at the corners of his eyes, then streaming down his face. Strangely, impossibly, he felt himself stretch as the first tentacle inside him grew thicker still. The tentacle around his dick constricted and squeezed, forcing him to more fully feel the one inside it. The tentacle vibrating in his ass had started sliding slowly in and out, pausing at the rim only to thrust back in. Something inside him felt like it was being screwed in tighter, tighter, tighter—until it snapped, everything washing over him at once.
It came in waves, one after another, and at the point Eddie felt wrung out, the tentacles around and inside him slowed their pace and loosened their grip, moving and petting, but no longer frantic. Nothing withdrew except Venom's tongue, and Eddie took in gulps of air through his gasping, open mouth. He pressed his forehead to Venom's and tried to breathe. The tentacles that had felt like they were soothing him through the aftershocks were quickly growing to be too much, his body overstimulated and sensitive. His left foot twitched as a tentacle brushed his prostate again.
Venom hadn't so much as blinked. He said once again, "We want more."
"Yeah," Eddie thought more than said, his voice an unintelligible wreck. "We do."
Venom pressed him back to the mattress and gave it to him.
Time passed in that strange, immeasurable way Eddie vaguely remembered from college finals. At some point, someone tried the intercom and then knocked at the door, but Eddie ignored them and Venom snarled until they went away. At some point, Eddie took a break to drink water and build a nest, covers and pillows piled on the mattress and spilling over onto the floor. At any given point, Eddie was filled with tentacles, a tongue, hands whose nails transformed from sharp to blunted when they pressed in anywhere vulnerable and soft. Venom was under Eddie's skin, but he was also in every crevice, every opening, encircling the entirety of Eddie's body and claiming it for his own.
In what was maybe the first hour or maybe was just the first day, Venom rolled Eddie over to all fours, and Eddie begged, pleaded, cajoled—until Venom set his teeth at just the right spot and bit down. Venom wasn't human, didn't naturally produce an alpha's pheromones. It should have done nothing. But when Venom's jaw closed over Eddie's shoulder, Eddie felt a burst of something heady and overwhelming, pain and pleasure rushing up and mixing into something transcendent.
"We will take care of you," Venom promised. "Need no one else."
"Please," Eddie said with his voice, his body, his every thought. "Please, please, please."
So really, it was a pretty typical heat.
Less typical was the aftermath. Eddie cleaned up as best he could and found a fresh gown in the cabinet. He felt like every limb weighed a hundred pounds. Every bit of his body throbbed pleasantly, and he felt simultaneously like he could take on the world and like he could sleep for a century. So far, so normal—but when he opened the door to the isolation room, instead of being greeted by medical staff chosen for their calming demeanor and status as a beta, Eddie got two FBI agents and an irate nurse.
One looked him up and down, then smirked. The other huffed a sigh and said, "We realize this is a bad time, but when you have a moment, we really need an interview."
"You've seen him. He survived. He'll contact you when he's ready or has been subpoenaed. Now get the hell out of my hospital." The first agent started to walk out of the room slowly, like he was making a point. The second grabbed him by the ear and marched out. The nurse glared after them, only turning to Eddie once the door had closed. "Right. Sorry about that. Let's get you checked out."
Briskly, "You can't develop a bio-agent designed to induce an omega's heat without attracting federal attention. Now, tell me, how are you feeling? Any soreness, lingering pain, tearing—?"
When the far door slammed open, Eddie almost hoped the FBI agents were back. Instead, a hulking, pale glob pasted over a very pregnant woman stumbled inside. It walked right up to Eddie, looked him up and down far more quickly and far less approvingly than the first agent had, and said, "Good, Venom, I've finally found you. Grab your things. We're getting off this hell planet."
"Wh—?" Eddie didn't even get a word out before he was suddenly enveloped in Venom's protective form, an experience previously limited to someone knocking at the isolation room door.
"No," Venom said firmly. "We're staying. We like it here."
"You know what—fine. Stay here on this disgusting planet with these disgusting hosts that can't take five steps without needing to breed." The pale glob was working themselves up. "The atmosphere is poisoned, the bodies are gross, and the meat isn't even that good. You've always been a terrible subordinate, and I don't know why I thought you would be able to follow a simple order that even the stupidest of us could get behind. Of course you decided to stay. Of course I wasted five more days finding you."
The pale blob person turned on their heel and strode for the door. "Stay here and rot. I'm warning everyone else away."
There was a brief silence. The nurse, ignoring Eddie's suited up form with the air of someone who'd seen much, much worse, said, "Where were we? Right, tearing—"
There was a distant screech and the words, "What do you mean you need to urinate again?"
"That went well," Venom said.
"Who was that?" Eddie asked.
"Riot. Our team leader."
"Team? Like—baseball?" Eddie knew he was wrong without that feeling of loving condescension Venom was radiating right now.
"No. For our invasion of Earth."
"Right." Eddie absently accepted the clipboard the nurse thrust upon him before she threw her hands in the air and left the room herself. "And is that—still on?"
Eddie stared down at the questionnaire in need of answers. "Want to help me fill this out? I don't think they'll let us get away with leaving it blank."
Venom solved the problem like a real human alpha would: he ate the form.
Later, much later, when things with the Life Foundation, the FBI, and—once they got wind of it—NASA were sufficiently sorted to let them get a moment to themselves, Eddie found himself with a pressing question of his own.
"Venom, darling," Eddie started, voice going high as something occurred to him far too late, "can you get me pregnant?"
"Mm." Venom gave a small, but satisfied noise. "Already did."
It bore repeating: what the fuck?