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Seismic

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**

One moment he's having a weird Venom-influenced dream about the stars and being an odd and powerful shape and the next he's awake and Venom is pulsating terror at him, and reaching all over his body, and hauling them out of bed towards the window.

“Open it!” He manages, and thankfully Venom snaps out a tendril and flicks the window open before they're outside. His brain is still mostly in bed; it’s almost but not quite sunrise and Eddie’s sure he’d be freezing if he actually walked outside in his boxers in this weather. Inside Venom it’s just a little too warm, which is his normal state of being at this point. He’s rarely cold, at least - that’s a perk.

He feels the wind filter through Venom’s substance and takes a breath of morning air. A bleary blink later and they’re flying up the building and Venom’s terror is pumping adrenaline he can’t quite process.

“What are you doing?” he manages, because generally Venom doesn’t haul them out of bed. Venom actually likes lazy mornings before they get cranky about food. Venom usually closes the blinds for him.

THE SHIP! WE HAVE TO GO, EDDIE!

He’s never heard Venom filled with such abject terror. Even when Venom doesn’t know what to do, they’re the kind of thing that never stops pretending they’re the fucking high school quarterback. It’s kind of endearing and kind of stupid and Eddie definitely prefers it to this.

“What?” That’s what he manages, because Venom’s not making any sense, and he hasn’t had coffee, and it’s gotta be 5 AM and they’re outside. Moving. Up Van Ness. Not good.

IF WE STAY, WE DIE, Venom basically shouts at him, enough that it rattles in his brain.

Then there’s a rattling noise and the building they’re standing on shakes - a solid shake, like having the couch knocked out from under you. He hears the sound of crashing glass under him. There are thuds which he imagines are pictures falling off walls. An open window carries the sound of someone cursing on the top floor.

The rattle stops, and then Venom is flinging them further uptown.

He’s filed with adrenaline now, and his sense is starting to come online. Okay, they’re running through the city at 5 in the morning for no discernible reason. Not the best.

“STOP!” he shouts, and Venom doesn’t stop, so he reaches into the shared space between them and yanks his limbs back. He used to be not as good at taking control, but he’s better at it now. Maybe Venom is just more likely to give it back to him. Either way, their body stills.

WHY ARE YOU STOPPING US? Venom snarls at him. The tone takes him by surprise. Venom might be a jackass, but they’re not usually outright nasty.

“Where are we going?” he shouts back, and he can feel Venom reach into their space and try to take his body back. A aftershock rumbles through the building; he hears the sound of trash being shaken loose from where it’s been stuck and a flock of pigeons takes off.

THE PLANET IS CRUMBLING! MAYBE THEY WILL HAVE ANOTHER SHIP. STOP FIGHTING. WE ARE SAVING US. Venom shouts at him, which makes less sense, not more. The moment of bafflement gives Venom the opportunity to snatch back control.

Oh, he sees where they're going. Towards the bridge. The Life Foundation wreckage?

Ship?

Another step. Another aftershock, less this time, more like a truck driving past them.

He’s not as good at the whole connection thing as Venom is, but he’s awake enough now to at least try, brushing his consciousness against theirs. They’re -- terror is not the half of it. Their whole self is consumed with the kind of pulsating existential panic that feels like looking into a deep chasm.

He pushes harder. Needs to know --

The shake. Venom’s losing their fucking shit over the earthquake.

“It’s just an earthquake!” he says, and more forcefully pushes against Venom’s grip. They still again, even more north now. Maybe he would be appreciating this sunrise if the alien he shared his life with wasn’t losing their complete shit. “We’re going back to bed.”

WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE CONSUMED.

“Consumed by what?”

Venom actually stops this time, as baffled as he previously was. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, CONSUMED BY WHAT? CERTAINLY YOU FELT THAT SEISMIC ACTIVITY.

There's another beat. Eddie wishes, dearly, that this had happened after he'd have some coffee and maybe a little breakfast. Of course, it never does. He uses the moment to take another breath and try to send some calm to Venom, all the while trying to lower his own heart rate. The city is beautiful in the sunrise and it would be nice if he was hiding from it. He is just really not a sunrise guy.

“Earthquakes are fine, V. It’s just -- it’s not a big deal. We can go home,” he says, and now a second wave of bafflement is punching through the terror. Bafflement at him this time - Venom distressed and confused about why he doesn’t think this is a big deal, even though based on his view of San Francisco at this moment, it is obviously not a big deal. The immediate wave of existential dread, at least, seems to have passed. They don’t seem to be grappling over his body. They’re just standing there, and Venom’s not quite but almost slipping back into him. The chill of the morning actually hits him for a moment.

At least finally there's an opportunity for Eddie to reach further. This isn’t quite the moment for reflection but it doesn’t sound like he’s going to get any answers otherwise, and worst comes to worse he comes to on the bridge. So, even though he’s not that good at it, he reaches through their shared space and into Venom, feels the press of confusion and fading panic and puzzlement like it’s air through vents. Venom taught him how to do this, even though he doesn’t usually feel much need.

-- He stretches his mind --

--- A strange place. A different planet. A different planet that looks like those scenes in picture books right after the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs struck earth. The sky is red and black and yellow, and Eddie doesn’t need Venom’s sense to know that’s probably not good. Even so Venom’s panicking all around him, hurrying their host to somewhere - evacuation, Venom’s thinking. The thing has some kind of sense that’s like standing next to the speakers at a concert and whatever it’s supposed to be hearing or feeling is overwhelmed by the bullhorn loudness of it.

Other things are panicking around him-it-them. The ground is splitting like some sped-up video of potholes being formed, only instead of their being more asphalt under the asphalt, there’s jut chasms, and from the chasms roils this impossible, boiling heat which is painful for Venom’s host.

When Venom looks up, Eddie sees the whole planet cracking open like a man splitting a peanut at a ballgame. Venom’s thoughts are consumed by the evacuation order and sadness at the loss of this planet and frustration at how they’re going to keep this host alive without sap, which means -- something -- and the anger at some mismanagement by their superiors, and they’re still running --

--- he’s back on a roof in San Francisco and the sun is really rising now, and there’s the blare of horns honking and someone is playing loud music through an open window and a chilly little breeze is brushing past him.

“That is not going to happen,” he says. Venom’s anxious around him, sliding in and out of his skin. He pulls them around him again, if only for the fact it’s cold and he’s almost naked. “Everything is fine.” He gestures out with their hand, and he can feel Venom’s attention, their body stepping closer to the roof edge and studying the goings-on. The pavement is not splitting like popcorn, and nobody is screaming in pain and terror and fear. It's a great view of the tops of heads looking at iPhones and the roofs of cars.

HOW. Venom asks, and he can feel them looking through his memories now. He projects the last few earthquakes he remembers - the one in Santa Rosa that smashed a few wine bottles, the one before that that broke one of his vinyl frames. He provides whatever it is he knows about seismic activity and fault lines, which is admittedly probably limited.

HUMANS JUST LIVE ON AN ACTIVE SEISMIC FAULT, Venom says, in complete disbelief.

“Yeah,” Eddie says. He yawns, feels their tongue loll, “Can we go home now?”

Venom struggles for an answer.

“Please?” Sure, he could drag them home if he wanted, but the idea of fighting Venom through the city before coffee sounds like a literal nightmare, and possibly worse than the planet literally crumbling around him.

IF WE DIE, WE ARE HOLDING YOU RESPONSIBLE, Venom says, and Eddie snorts laughter, and turns back towards the apartment.

“Ok, but you’d never let that happen, and a little earthquake is not gonna kill us.” Then they’re both moving. That’s the best feeling, when they’re moving as one, a like mind. Seems weird that could be his nirvana but there’s little better than it, when they’ve got the same plan and their senses are all together. It makes him - them - feel quick and strong and invulnerable. Maybe that’s strange, but his life is way past strangeness at this point. It’s good though. Good strangeness.

Venom pulses idle satisfaction at him at the thought, and he sends it right back. Getting better at this, giving a pile of his emotions to them and understanding what it means when they give a pile to him.

They’re back in through the window. His feet hit the ground, and then Venom’s sliding back into him (and that’s weird and good too, because see above, about his life), and then he finally gets an eyeful of a clock. 6:21 AM.

WE SHOULD MOVE SOMEWHERE WITHOUT A SEISMIC FAULT, Venom says.

“Everyone’s got their own natural disaster,” he replies. He could just think it all, he’s pretty sure. It’s nice to hold real conversations, though. Venom’s a real - well, maybe not person. A real creature, a definite somebody, his body notwithstanding. He hasn’t wholly grasped the whole explain whole sentences with your brain thing, though Venom seems confident it’s possible.

HOW CAN THIS PLANET BE ON EDGE OF DESTRUCTION EVERYWHERE, Venom says, a demand more than a question. They’re forming out of him now, as if they can’t adequately express their bafflement without a face. You’d think the teeth would get in the way of the expressiveness, but they don’t.

“Well,” he says, more to the coffee pot than otherwise, “Here we have earthquakes, and in New York we had big storms, and in Ohio or something they have tornadoes, and in Florida they have hurricanes…”

He trails off when he can feel Venom shuffling through his memories. It used to bother him more than it does now. They can do whatever they want in his brain as long as he can make coffee while they’re doing it. A moment’s glance at the ungrinded beans Annie left him, the last time she was here. He takes his pre-ground stuff instead. It percolates. Thank god for small miracles.

Venom slides back into him and shifts around. Something like a fidget. Eddie waits, because waiting is what you do when you need to have coffee after you’ve been dragged around your city at 6 AM.

WE THOUGHT WE WOULD DIE, Venom says, finally, and it feels exactly like an apology.

“Hey,” he responds, and when he reaches his hand out Venom is there, and he runs his fingers through the black tar of their substance, idly like scratching a cat, “If the planet is dissolving for real then you have full permission to run us wherever it is you think we can escape.”

The silence feels strange and stretched. Well, Venom makes it feel like that, or maybe he can feel it from Venom, or something else; he hadn’t spent as much time reflecting as maybe he should.

IT WAS NOT THE GOOD KIND OF DESTRUCTION, Venom says, after a moment. Their voice, in Eddie’s head, is a little slow. Guarded, maybe.

“If you didn’t enjoy shit being blown up, that’s a serious sign.”

CORRECT.

Coffee. Sweet, blessed coffee. He’s found that the temperature of the coffee bothers him less now, which is nice, because he can consume more coffee as fast as possible.

Now. Breakfast. He’s going to make breakfast, because that’s what happens when he’s woken up this early.

WHY ARE YOU TURNING THE STOVE ON?

“You hauled me out of bed before the sun rose, so I’m eating some cooked meat. That’s the trade off.”

WE TRY TO RESCUE YOU AND IN RETURN YOU EAT COOKED MEAT.

“You got it. I’m a regular torturer.”