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Hellbent

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“A child?” Eddie exclaimed, panic rising in his voice as he struggled to comprehend what Venom had just said. How could he, Eddie Brock, already be a dad? How could he be having a baby? No, this had to be a joke. “You’ve got to be joking me, V.”

 

“Am not.” Venom remarked, a bit of panic evident in their voice too. “Our species, they spawn every six or so years. Sometimes more often, but usually less often. We haven't spawned in eleven years.”

 

“Godda- is this why you’ve been so damn hungry lately? Are you getting pregnancy symptoms?” Eddie cried, grabbing fistfuls of his hair in his bout of stress and panic. Venom seemed momentarily distraught by the displays of panic from Eddie, but also determined to try and calm Eddie down.

 

You are too. You just don't notice it.

 

Eddie paused; he had noticed somewhat of a difference lately. He was tired all the time, a bit more hungry than usual and was easily more nauseous than usual. But he had chopped that up to the stress of work and his somewhat decent immune system (even with Venom fixing most of his internal problems, there was bound to be a few random things that’d manage to wreak havoc anyways). He hadn't even thought- what kind of man would ever think something like that? This wasn't something guys really had to deal with!

 

Eddie finally calmed himself down just a little, enough to think clearly. He, or Venom, or maybe both of them, were carrying a child.

They were essentially pregnant, by scientific standards. Eddie couldn't believe it. How was this even possible?

 

“V, how are you- how are we pregnant?” He asked, his voice soft and filled with anxiety. He didn't know how this was even possible. Perhaps someone could explain to him how it was possible, like Venom or maybe Dr. Banner or someone involved in science, as he didn't quite fully understand.
Eddie suddenly felt an odd sense of comfort when he felt Venom suddenly move and curl up at the base of Eddie’s spine; that was Venom’s safe spot, Eddie remembered. It was odd, but whenever Venom rested at the base of Eddie’s spine, it calmed both of them down. Perhaps it was the fact that over time, they began to share more traits and aspects of themselves. Whatever it was, Eddie didn't know why it calmed both of them down, but somehow, it always did.

 

“Our species, we don't spawn sexually like yours does.” Venom began, pausing quickly to make sure Eddie hadn't started panicking again. When Eddie made no move, no noise, Venom glanced at Eddie. His gray blue eyes were tense and wet, shimmering with the beginnings of tears. And yet, he was calm, or at least quite stable. “Our species, we just spawn on our own. Like cloning, but our babies look different than the parents.”

 

Eddie made a sound that sounded like a squeal, but high pitched and full of panic. He then put a hand over his mouth for a quick second and began to try and calm his breathing. It took a while but he soon calmed his breathing completely, and got ahold of a clear train of thought. When his breathing slowed, Eddie sat down and pressed his hands together. “Alright, you say we're pregnant… when is this baby gonna be born?”

“We aren't sure,” The symbiote began, rubbing a small tendril onto Eddie’s face to try and calm him, “but probably in the next 48 hours.”

 

Eddie let out a choked sob. This couldn't be happening, not to him. He couldn't be having a child. And then, all at once, all the anxiety and panic flooded through Eddie before Venom could even attempt to dispel them. Eddie began to sob, his body wracked with anxiety as his head heaved forward and hung low. Venom began to murmur softly to him, sensing his panic, trying to calm him down, but Eddie just continued to cry.

 

~~~~~

 

It took nearly an hour to calm Eddie down and get him to stop shaking; an hour of Venom humming Eddie’s favorite songs and rubbing slow circles into Eddie’s skin until not a single muscle was tense. After the panic over the baby and the fact that Eddie had god-knows how long to even prepare, he had retreated to bed to sleep his worries away. It took him a while to fall asleep, as his anxiety kept flooding his mind, bringing with it terrifying thoughts. Venom, however, with whatever ability they had, got rid of the bad thoughts. Eddie thanked Venom before he fell asleep at 6 that evening, and Venom stayed silent, working diligently to remove any bad thoughts they could from Eddie’s brain. There was quite a few, and Venom felt like they had been punched every time they saw a new thought fill Eddie’s mind.

 

Because Eddie fell asleep so early, he woke up at 3 the next morning, to a quiet and dark apartment. The silence of San Francisco filled his ears, and the darkness of his apartment comforted him. As he stirred slightly, he heard the voice of a worried Venom filling his ear.

 

Eddie. We think the child is coming soon.

 

Eddie sprung up into a sitting position and stopped dead in his tracks, immediately waking up. “How soon?”

 

Within the next hour.

 

Eddie gasped and held back a panicked sob. He couldn't help it; this was something he never thought possible. He was rightfully panicked.

 

Eddie, please. We love you, very much, so please, do not leave us because we are carrying a child.

 

“I’m not gonna leave you.” Eddie replied, his voice wavering, as he was a bit caught off guard by the statement. He rubbed his eyes with his hands as Venom stroked tears off his face. “I’m just… this is something I never thought possible. I never thought I’d be a dad. People usually have 9 months to prepare, not a day! And besides,” he paused, anxiety flooding into his voice, “My dad was awful to me. I don't want to be like him.”

 

Eddie. You will not be like your father. You are not your father, Eddie.

 

Eddie shook his head as a couple stray memories of his father filled his mind quicker than Venom could dispel them. The memories of his father screaming at him, of his father shattering a bottle purely to scare Eddie. The memory of the last time he ever saw his father. Eddie shivered in fear. “You can say that, but what if I am?”

 

Your reluctance to be a father based off what your dad did already distinguishes you from him. If you are so adamant to not be like him, you will not be like him. You are, after all, already better than all parents in my species.

 

Eddie scoffed in disbelief, and shook his head. “How am I better?”

 

My species often eat their young, or they abandon their young as soon as they're born. You don't want to do that, so that makes you a great parent already.

 

Venom paused for a moment, and suddenly a sliver of red shone on the side of Eddie’s torso. Eddie poked at it a little, and turned when Venom’s voice once again filled his ears.

 

We’re spawning.

 

Eddie gasped, pausing, and he then immediately moved into a more comfortable sitting position on his bed, his arms positioned in a way to catch the baby as soon as it was born. How would it be born? From the sudden splotch of red on his side, Eddie figured it’d form out of his body, like Venom, but instead, a completely independent symbiote. What do baby symbiotes eat? How often do baby symbiotes need to eat? How fast do they grow? When do symbiotes need to get a host? Eddie had so many questions.

 

A few more minutes passed before suddenly, a string of red goop poured from Eddie’s side slowly, in string-like ribbons. Over a few minutes, the stringy red goop formed into a ball, swirling with energy as it began to trail along Eddie’s side and over his arms. Eddie helped the small ball of red into his hands, and it trailed along his fingers, tracing each one as though the newborn meant to etch his hands into their memory.

 

Eddie held the creature in his hands, and gave a choked smile when silky white eyes, just like Venom’s, appeared and stared at him. The baby then formed somewhat of a body that looked similar to how Venom looked when they perched on Eddie’s shoulder. The baby was solid red, with mahogany colored strings littering and swirling their body, along with large, silky white eyes that resembled Venom’s perfectly. A tiny little tongue flicked out of its mouth and ran over Eddie’s hand for barely a second, and its eyes glanced up at Eddie, as though expectant of his reaction. Eddie let out a choked smile as he watched the baby watch him with expectant eyes.

 

The baby was so amazing, so different, so intriguing. The whole process was so different from how human babies were born. And despite Eddie not even having a full day to prepare for the news that he would be a father, he already felt somewhat of a bond to the small symbiote. How could he not? This creature, this baby, while not biologically his, had come from his body. He had carried this baby for god knows how long. He couldn't help it.

 

After a few moments passed, Eddie realized that Venom hadn't said a word about names. “How…” he began, clearing his throat awkwardly, “how does naming work for your species?” Eddie asked, rubbing his pinkie finger gingerly over the baby’s head. Venom rumbled a little at the sight.

 

”Just like it works for yours. The parent names the child.” Venom then formed onto Eddie’s shoulder, stretching out a tendril to comfort the newborn. The newborn immediately stopped swirling, and paused, an odd, comforting silence filling the room. Venom glanced at the newborn, and their large, silky white eyes, the ones the baby had so clearly inherited, sparkled as they stared at their child. Something appeared in Venom’s eyes, a sort of calculating glance. “Carnage shall be his name.”

 

“Carnage, hm?” Eddie remarked, glancing at the swirling, shivering baby in his hands. As Eddie moved his finger a little, the baby made a motion as if to try and bite him. Eddie couldn't help the small, surprised smile that curved onto his lips. “I think it's gonna fit perfectly, V.”

Chapter Text

The first of May was a rather odd day. It was the first of the month of May, the month that was always recognizable as the month that everything fully warmed up, the month when the summer heat flew in and made it seem to hot to be spring. The trees were always tall and green, their trunks a solid, hard, healthy brown wood. The grass was greener than ever, with little dewdrops lining blades of grass and leaves of plants. The sky was a beautiful blue, like cotton candy with minimal white, fluffy clouds. People had taken to the streets, walking about in a jubilant fervor, running about in tank tops and shorts with jackets tied around their waists, or in sportswear, jogging along the sidewalks.

 

The city of New York was no exception to this pre-summer fervor; people were crowding the streets and the park, now ever more so than usual. There was an additional part to the joy of the New Yorkers, however; the month of May marked an entire year since the Avengers had had to do any big fight.

MWhile New York loved the Avengers, they relished the days when there were no villains to fight, as that meant their city was safe from any level of destruction and damage. Nevertheless, the city was alive with activity; people swarmed the streets, backing up traffic, and the parks were full of people walking the trails and playing in the trees.

 

It was at 3 in the afternoon on the first of May when Peter finally got back from school. He was in 12th grade now, and he was looking forward to the end of school. His high school was doing a summer trip as well, one last goodbye before college, essentially. He didn’t even care that he’d have to go with the dreaded Flash Thompson; he had the chance to go to Italy, and nothing could dampen his mood.

 

Peter rode the bus to a bus stop that was two blocks from Stark Tower, and he got off and cheerfully walked all the way to Stark Tower. He went to the secret entrance, the one used only by the residents of Stark Tower, and slid his key into the door. When it opened, he immediately took the elevator up the tower.

 

Peter had found himself going to Stark Tower after school for the past few weeks, rather than Aunt May’s apartment. In fact, it had been during the months of December and February that Tony had made the final steps to formally adopt Peter, meaning Peter’s residence was now changed. While this meant that Aunt May wasn't legally his guardian anymore, he still visited her a lot, and Tony had even been gracious enough to grace her with a floor of her own, to share with Peter if she so desired. Aunt May had eventually accepted, and was slowly moving her stuff in from her apartment. The Avengers had accepted her graciously into their ranks, and she seemed to be plenty happy staying with them.

 

As soon as Peter walked in, he was engulfed in a hug by Aunt May, who laughed as she broke the hug. He smiled at her, his eyes crinkling the way they always did whenever he laughed or smiled.

 

“Hi Aunt May! I’m back from school!”

 

“I see that.” She laughed, turning to ler Tony face Peter. Tony held his arms out and Peter ran into them, falling into his dad’s embrace. Tony beamed and ran a hand through Peter’s hair playfully.

 

“Hey kid.” Tony said with a smile, glancing at Peter.

 

“Hi Mr. Stark!” Peter cried cheerfully. He grinned when Tony ran a hand through his hair, and he grinned wider when he put his backpack down. Peter was in an especially cheerful mood; prom was this weekend and he was actually going with Michelle. When Tony heard the news, he had insisted on taking Peter to shop for a suit.

 

“Hey kid! How was your day?” Bucky cried from his spot on the couch, sitting up a little to see Peter clearly. Steve was in the shower, so Bucky laid stretched out on the couch, his head resting comfortably on the arm of the couch.

 

“It was good, Mr. Barnes!” Peter replied, tossing his jacket onto a chair nearby. “Lots of school work, though. Teachers are trying to cram everything in before the exams, which are the last week of this month.”

 

“Nothing you can't handle, I’m sure?” Bucky laughed, sitting up a little.

 

“I can handle it,” Peter laughed, “But I’m gonna die in the process.”

 

Bucky cocked his head and grinned. “What more fitting way to go than stress overload from school, hm?”

 

Peter nodded energetically, ignoring the slightly shocked faces of Aunt May and Tony. Even after all this time, neither of them were fully used to his fatalistic humor.

 

Peter made his way to the kitchen to try and fish for some snacks, while Bucky just waited for Steve, and Tony and May soon took off to their respective floors. When Steve finally did come out of the shower in sweatpants and a tank top, Bucky wolf-whistled.

 

“Buck, the kid’s right there.” Steve remarked as a stifled laugh echoed from the kitchen. He stood a bit tersely, his light blue eyes glancing towards Bucky.

 

Bucky stood tall, locking eyes with Steve. “So?” He cocked his head in the direction of the kitchen, before letting his crystalline eyes trace back to Steve’s face. “The kid is always around Tony and Strange. Pretty sure those two are just as bad as we are.”

 

Another stifled laugh was heard, followed by a weak, “Oh, you two are worse.” Peter walked out of the kitchen seconds later, holding a box of chocolate chip and sprinkle cookies in his hands, his face curved into a large smile. “You're definitely worse.”

 

Steve shot a glance back at Bucky, who just slapped his ass and winked. Peter burst into fits of laughter as Bucky sashayed off, leaving Steve red-faced with a towel around his neck. Steve glanced over at Peter.

 

“I’m sorry you had to see that.” Steve remarked, only for Peter to shake his head in response, his hand over his mouth to try and stop himself from laughing. His eyes crinkled a little as he stood a little straighter and shook his head again.

 

“No, I’m good. I’m a high schooler, I’ve seen worse in the halls.” Peter replied, still chuckling. “Besides, you two are getting married on the 30th, right?” Steve nodded, and Peter nodded right back. “Then that's totally normal. I mean, you two are better than all the couples I see in the halls.”

 

“Ah.” Steve nodded, glancing at Peter. “Well, that's good, I think.” He paused for a second, then glanced back at Peter. “I’m glad you're going to be at my wedding.” Peter grinned.

 

Peter was one of the few people invited to Steve’s wedding, alongside the rest of the Avengers and any allies they had made. Steve had even managed to convince Peter to be the photographer, after hearing of his skills in photography. Peter said he’d post them on his Stark Intern social medias, and he even got Steve some social media so that he would be able to post about it. After all, Captain America’s wedding was the event of the century. It didn't even matter that he was marrying a guy; all news outlets wanted the wedding to be televised, but Steve insisted that a few photos on his new social medias would be enough.

 

“Can I make your wedding playlist?” Peter asked suddenly, tilting his head in anticipation. His eyes were sparkling, filled with anticipation and excitement.

 

“Only if you put in some songs from mine and Bucky’s childhoods.” Steve remarked, handing Peter a piece of paper with song names on it.
“Please put in at least five.”

 

“Alrighty Cap!” Peter exclaimed joyfully, clutching the paper in his hands. He ran off towards the elevator and waved as he rode up to the higher floors. Steve waved right back, a small smile on his face.

 

~~~~~

 

The Avengers had gathered for their weekly joint meal when Wanda walked into the room, Vision right behind her. The two had been trailing behind each other ever since they got back from their vacation, and it was surprisingly a relieving sight. The two had bonded a lot over their three week long trip back in November-December, and had enjoyed the long break of relaxation and peace.

 

Natasha waved and signaled for Wanda to sit next to her, and Wanda nodded and made her way to Natasha, winding through the room with Vision at her heel. As Wanda sat down, Tony passed her a plate of food that had been carefully made by Steve and May. May, who had gone back to her apartment to get some stuff, was absent from the table, leaving the seat to the right of Peter empty. Peter didn't seem to really take much notice though; he had been bummed at first, but Tony quickly cheered him up with talk of his upcoming prom.

 

As Wanda sat down, Vision sat right next to her, putting himself in between her and Sam. The meal today was spaghetti, chicken, broccoli and croissants, along with a dessert of ice cream. Peter was eating happily, talking excitedly with Tony about his schoolwork and his gpa, and the upcoming prom. Tony’s eyes were lit up, and he had an energy about him that was only ever seen when he was with Peter.

 

On one side of the table, Bucky and Steve sat next to each other, with Sam next to them, alongside Vision, then Wanda, then Natasha. Clint, Tony, Peter and Dr. Strange sat on the other side, talking amongst themselves. Thor and Bruce were in New Asgard, along with Loki and Valkyrie. Shuri, after the entire fiasco with Eddie Brock, had headed back home to continue inventing in her lab. She would visit every other weekend, talk a bunch with Peter and sometimes she’d even tweak some of Tony’s inventions and give him whatever tips she could think of. Tony enjoyed the fresh new face, and while he had been a bit skeptical of her at first, he quickly warmed up to her and now openly welcomed any and all advice she had.

 

A conversation soon was lit in the room, sparked by Tony and Peter, that soon spread to the others. The conversation was of good times, of memories and reminiscing. Everyone at the table shared a happy story, and the room was soon alive with laughter and chatter.

 

The meal didn't last much longer after Wanda and Vision sat down, however. Within minutes, the dishes were cleared off the table and being cleaned in the sink by Clint and Bucky. The conversation had then turned to the past few months. Nothing too exciting had happened, no big fight, new enemy or anything like that. It was peaceful, for once. And all of them were very happy with that. A nice long bout of peace wasn't too extremely common for them, so they soaked it up whenever they could.

 

After the meal, Tony retreated to his lab, and Peter followed him eagerly to see if there was anything he could tinker with. Steve and Bucky retreated to their floor, going to their room to watch movies and reminisce on old memories.

Strange retreated to the gym, deciding to see if he could practice his fighting and magic. Wanda and Natasha joined him, and the three of them talked joyfully while they all worked out. Vision had taken off to his and Wanda’s shared floor, deciding to just sit around and read a few books that he could find. In general, everyone was off doing something, and Avengers Tower began buzzing with life.

 

~~~~~

 

It was 3 that afternoon when a call came in from New Asgard. Tony was in the conference room when the call come in, and he answered it eagerly.

 

“Thor! Hey, how’s Bruce?” Tony remarked, glancing at the holographic screen with Thor’s face displayed widely on it. Thor grinned, his eyes crinkling the way they always did when he smiled.

 

“Banner is doing great! He’s heading up the hospital in New Asgard, and everyone is loving him.” Thor smiled even brighter. He glanced off to the side a little, his eyes lighting up, and Tony could tell he was looking at Bruce. “He’s making a great impact. He’s happy, happier than I’ve seen him in a while.”

 

Tony smiled. “That's good.”

 

“It is.” Thor nodded, the grin spreading back onto his face. “How are the Avengers?”

 

It was at that moment that Peter walked in, and his brown eyes lit up as soon as he saw Thor. “Uncle Thor!” He yelled, running towards the holograph.

 

“Spider child!” Thor exclaimed, holding out his arms as if to hug Peter. “Are you doing good?”

 

Peter nodded jovially, excitement clear in his body language. He glanced at Thor, his eyes scanning over him. “Are you and Dr. Banner doing alright?”

 

Thor nodded, glancing back in the direction that Bruce was obviously in.
“He’s making an impact here. Helping people. My people love him.”

 

A soft voice could be heard from the other side of the room, making a some sort of remark, and from Thor’s smile, both Tony and Peter could tell the voice belonged to Bruce. Thor made a remark back, too soft for Tony and Peter to hear, but obviously loud enough for Bruce to hear, because another soft remark was made and Thor grinned again. After a moment, Thor turned back to Tony and Peter.

 

“Anyways, I called to check in, make sure that everyone is doing alright. Bruce and I will be visiting soon, before the wedding, of course.”

 

Tony cocked his head a little at the remark, obviously a tad bit surprised. “Really? That's great!”

 

After the whole situation with Venom had settled, Thor and Bruce had gone back to New Asgard and had stayed there, fixating on helping the remaining Asgardians rebuild. Loki and Valkyrie had also headed back and were helping to improve New Asgard.

 

“It is.” Thor remarked. “Heimdall says he will be well enough to care for the Asgardians for long enough to allow Banner and I a break.”

 

Tony nodded and smiled, and Peter did the same. “I can't wait to see you again, Uncle Thor.” Peter glanced at Thor, who nodded.

 

“We will be there in less than a week, I’m hoping.” Thor remarked, his eyes shifting briefly to the side once more. “I shall talk to you again soon. Banner is calling me now.”

 

“Goodbye, Uncle Thor.” Peter spoke, waving. Thor waved to Peter, and then to Tony, and with that, ended the call.

Chapter Text

The baby was much more different that Eddie was expecting. Truthfully, he didn’t know what he had been expecting, having an alien baby, but he certainly hadn’t been expecting this. He wasn't sure whether he had even been expecting Carnage to act somewhat like a human baby; being an alien, Eddie had reasoned with himself that Carnage would be different from a human baby. And yet, despite his own attempts at assuaging his worries, Eddie was still pleasantly alarmed at the feats the baby was capable of.

 

Carnage didn't cry or make much noise at all, rendering them much quieter than Venom typically was, which was astonishing. Not to mention, Carnage was able to do plenty of things on their own, way more than any baby could have dreamed to learn in less than a day.

 

Carnage could move around on their own; without a host, their movement was limited, but they could slither across the ground and from room to room. They could already speak; their first words had been a simple, “Don’t want dead food.” Eddie had went silent in shock, and had to stop himself from crying as he grabbed onto Carnage and held the swirling baby in his hands. Carnage had been thoroughly perturbed by Eddie’s reaction, but had nevertheless swirled contentedly in Eddie’s hand.

 

They could already chew regular food, as Eddie discovered when Venom gave Carnage a tater tot. Carnage picked at it, then munched on it some. Carnage seemed to like it plenty, and they had even asked for more afterwards. Venom, unable to resist their baby, gave Carnage the rest of what was on their plate. It was something Venom had never done before, and it had surprised Eddie. Nevertheless, they were both pleased to watch their child eat happily.

 

They could hold and grab onto things on their own, as discovered when Eddie put a mug on his table and Carnage grabbed it cautiously and picked it up. Eddie had been so amazed that he wasn't even mad when Carnage dropped the mug and cracked the handle. Eddie had just picked it up, put it away and told Carnage to be more careful with breakable things in the future. Carnage didn't seem to take much notice to the advice.

 

Carnage also already had emotions much more complex than that of a toddler or even that of a six year old. When they were given food, they were thankful and took it graciously. When given advice to be careful with breakable things, Carnage nodded and apologized for breaking the mug, acknowledging that they had done something bad. They felt guilt for the shattered mug, but that guilt soon dissipated when Eddie assured them that it was okay, that the mug was replaceable and that Carnage would just have to be more careful the next time they held something that was breakable or delicate.

 

They could also understand emotions more than that of a toddler. They recognized that Eddie wasn't too upset at them for breaking the mug, and they could tell when he and Venom were happy and when they were sad or upset. They could even recognize the difference between anger, frustration and sadness. It was rather intriguing, Eddie thought.

 

Eddie could tell Carnage wasn’t going to be like human babies; they couldn’t sleep, same as Venom, and they needed to eat plenty of heads to sustain them. Still, Eddie found himself doing small little things that parents would typically do for their human babies.

 

First, he’d found an old shirt of his, and with the few sewing skills he actually had, managed to turn the shirt into a nice, comfortable blanket for Carnage (it was originally going to be a sweater, but Venom insisted symbiotes don't wear sweaters). Secondly, he had turned a corner of his room into a “bedroom” for Carnage, complete with a bed. Eddie had grabbed an old shoe box of his and the blanket made from his old shirt, and padded the blanket down into the shoe box, curling the blanket up into the corners. Needless to say, he was proud of his work when he had finished with it.

 

After transforming the shoe box into a makeshift bed, Eddie gingerly placed Carnage into the bed. Carnage swirled a little, obviously confused, before curling into a little ball and laying contentedly. Their eyes blinked a few times, glancing across the room in eager interest, before their eyes settled on Eddie again. They then closed their eyes somewhat and laid contentedly, happy to just lay with their eyes closed despite not being able to even fall asleep. Eddie awed at the sight.

 

Once Eddie was done gifting Carnage their bed, he turned and glanced at Venom. Venom had been watching Carnage with steady interest, their eyes lighting up in a way Eddie had never seen before. When Eddie glanced at Venom, though, Venom immediately got a mental clue and snapped their attention towards Eddie.

 

“Hey, V? I know we didn’t talk about this earlier, but what are we gonna do with Carnage?” Eddie questioned, glancing at Venom, who had formed over his shoulder. Venom’s eyes shifted from Eddie’s face, to Carnage, and back to Eddie. A thought clearly formulated behind Venom’s silky white eyes, and for a moment, they looked somewhat mesmerized. Them, they snapped out of their trance and lifted their head to glance at Eddie.

 

“My species does not raise our young. We are guilty of that. We want to try and raise this child to be different. To respect the earth and its inhabitants.” Venom spoke, snaking a tendril out to lightly touch their baby. Carnage shifted a little and held a tendril out in response, essentially giving Venom the symbiote version of a handshake, which seemed to make Venom smile. “We can teach our baby what you taught us. The difference between good and bad guys, the social rules and stuff like that.”

 

“That's what I was thinking.” Eddie murmured, smiling as he glanced at Carnage. Carnage was still swirling slightly in their makeshift bed, now watching both Eddie and Venom with mild interest.

 

“We do share a mind for a reason.” Venom replied, letting their eyes glance back to Carnage. Carnage glanced at them with large, silky white eyes, eyes that looked as if they were slightly torn on the edges, with jagged, fragmented edges. Their eyes narrowed a little and their tongue flicked out at Venom a little, curiosity burning in their eyes. Venom’s eyes crinkled a little, and a bout of happiness swirled through them. Eddie smiled as the rush of happiness flooded through their bond, and he briefly caressed Venom’s face before turning to Carnage.

 

Eddie held his hands out and let Carnage slither into the palms of his hands. He cupped Carnage and held them close, glancing at Carnage.
“What’s your name?” Eddie asked softly, as Carnage swirled tentatively in Eddie’s hands. The baby seemed to ponder its response.

 

“Carnage.” The baby symbiote replied, swirling contentedly in Eddie’s hands. Eddie nodded.

 

“Do you know who we are?” Eddie asked, and the baby looked at them both with curious eyes. Then, the baby shook its head slightly, still peering at them with large white eyes. “We’re your parents.”

 

“What’s a parent?” Carnage asked.

 

“Parents create babies.” Venom replied, glancing at Carnage. “We created you. Parents are people who create babies and take care of them.”

 

The baby looked at the both of them tentatively, their eyes still filled with curiosity. “You’re my parents?”

 

“Yes. We are your parents.”

 

Carnage seemed to pause in thought, and Eddie took the moment to stroke them gingerly with a single finger. Carnage seemed to absentmindedly snap at Eddie’s fingers. As Carnage had done it absentmindedly, there was no force behind the tiny bite and thus Carnage’s teeth left no mark on Eddie’s skin. Despite this, Eddie quickly got the memo.

 

“Do you need something to eat?” Eddie asked kindly, glancing tentatively at Carnage. Carnage seemed to ponder their reply.

 

“Head.” Carnage replied, and Eddie nodded. He was expecting hat answer.

 

“Alright.” He spoke, standing up. He held onto the baby and walked towards the door. “Let’s go get you a head.”

 

~~~~~

“This is Avengers tower?” Were the first words out of Ned’s mouth when he and Shuri arrived there to greet Peter.

 

“Mhm.” Shuri replied matter-of-factly, pressing her hand to the scanner that was towards the back of the building.

 

There was a special car park in the first level of the basement, and it was there that many of the Avengers would come to get into the building. There was a scanner there, one connected to all of their faces and handprints. A small beep had emitted when Shuri presented her hand, followed by a polite “It is nice to see you, Princess Shuri.”

 

“It is nice to see you too, JARVIS.” Shuri mused, as her eyes darted towards Ned. “I have a guest with me, one that both Peter and Stark are familiar with, so I ask that you scan his hand and face as well so that he may return at a different time without me.”

 

“Alright. Please present your hand, sir.” Said JARVIS, as the scanner lit up with a lambent light. Ned cautiously placed his hand on the lambent scanner, and then blinked in surprise when it went to scan his face. And then came the voice again with a simple, “Welcome, Ned Leeds.”

 

“Who was that?” Ned asked incredulously as he and Shuri walked into the first basement floor. His eyes were still feverently scanning over the entire room, engulfing whatever they could.

 

Shuri cocked her head towards him, a grin on her face. “That was JARVIS, one of Stark’s AI’s. He basically runs the entire tower.” She pressed a finger lightly on the button of the elevator, and waited until it dinged and the doors glided open.

 

“Woah. This place is amazing!” Ned exclaimed as they stepped into the large, 7 foot by 7 foot elevator. Shuri laughed as the door closed.

 

“This tower is quite luxurious. I’m sure Stark pulled out all the stops. He’s far from a dullard, that man.” Shuri remarker, letting her eyes dart over the gleaming walls of the elevator. They were much like a typical elevator’s; silver, but unique with a dark brown swirl pattern decorating the very top of the wall. The floor of the elevator was also decorated in a beautiful light gray carpet, with the symbol of the Avengers painted onto it. Her eyes, however, soon landed on the numbered buttons of the elevator. “I don't know many of the floors, so let's just go to Stark’s floor. He’ll know which floor is Peter’s.”

 

“Haven't you been here before?” Ned questioned, gazing skeptically at Shuri.

 

“Yes,” Shuri began, tapping the key for Tony’s floor, “but they have changed the floors plenty of times. It's best to go to Tony first, his floor never changes.”

 

Ned nodded in understanding and stood back a little, waiting jubilantly for the doors to open. He was in Avengers Tower!! He couldn't believe it!
The elevator soon glided up to Tony’s floor, and Shuri saw him lift his face when the doors opened. “Princess Shuri! It's nice to see you again.” Tony remarked as Shuri made her way towards him out of the elevator, Ned by her side. She laughed and stuck out her hand, formally shaking Tony’s when he stuck his out.

 

“It's always a great pleasure, Stark.” She remarked, as her eyes darted feverently around the room. Ned seemed just as mystified as her, perhaps even more, as he had never been to Stark Tower, AKA Avengers Tower, before.

 

He glanced around the room with dexterous eyes, devouring everything in the room in a mystified gaze. He walked with exuberance, as Tony was quick to note. Tony was always entertained by how exuberant Ned always was. It reminded him very much of Peter.

 

“Here for Peter, I assume?” Tony murmured, and his mouth curved up just a tad when Shuri nodded in reply.

 

“Alright. Come on, his floor is below mine.”

 

Shuri and Ned followed Tony dutifully, and Ned watched around the room with fervor, stopping dead in his tracks when he saw Clint’s head stick out from the vents. Shuri laughed at the sight before the doors closed.
It took them only seconds to glide down to Peter’s floor, which was an empty, somewhat silent floor, except for Peter’s own room. Tony waved both of them down, then stood to face the direction of Peter’s room.
“Peter!” Tony yelled, cocking his head in the direction of Peter’s room. There was only silence in return . “I think someone’s here for you!”

 

Once again silence, so Tony yelled again. He then heard a thump, followed by a yell as Peter’s door swung wide open and he came bolting out. “Is it Ned?” He yelled, his hair a bit disheveled as he reached the beginning of the hallway to the elevator. His eager brown eyes gazed towards Tony and the elevator.

 

“Even better!” Cried a girls voice, and Peter’s eyes widened as he saw both Shuri and Ned walking towards him. “It’s Ned AND Shuri!”

 

Peter whooped and ran towards the both of them, engulfing them in a large hug. Both Ned and Shuri laughed, and they were both grinning when Peter pulled away.

 

“Dude, I think Falcon looked at me!” Ned exclaimed as Peter walked the both of them to his room, his eyes as wide as saucers. “And I think I saw Hawkeye in the vents!”

 

“He climbs in the vents a lot.” Peter joked, holding the door to his room open. His room in Stark Tower was three times the size of his old room, with a decently sized walk-in closet and a large bunk bed. He had a black colored desk in the corner of the room, along with a whole shelf of connected, square shaped drawers for him to hold his stuff in. Along with this desk came a red and blue desk chair, and more organizers than Peter would ever need.

 

“Alrighty, as much as I would like for this to be none other than a regular visit, we came here with a reason.” Shuri announced, clapping her hands together. She flashed a glance at Peter, who had a mix of curiosity and sadness displayed on his face. “Your prom is this weekend and we are here to help you prepare. Tony gave us permission to go with you and him and find you a suit.”

 

“Really?” Peter whipped his head around, the look on his face dissolving completely as he glanced at his two best friends. Ned and Shuri both nodded eagerly, Shuri with more fervor as Ned tried to memorize Peter’s new room. “That's great!”

 

“Isn't it?” Ned exclaimed, his voice lit up with euphoria. Since Peter had moved, the two friends had struggled to talk and hang out outside of school. This was one of the first times they had managed to meet up, and they were both extremely excited.

 

Shuri nodded genially in response, clapping her hands together. “What are you waiting for, then? Let's go!”

Chapter Text

A few days had now passed since Eddie and Venom’s quest to raise Carnage right had begun, and May had arrived, bringing with it the typical spring-into-summer weather of warm, cloudless days with mild humidity. People were out walking about almost every day, soaking up the sun.

 

The past few days with Carnage had indeed been interesting, however. In an effort to raise the child properly, Eddie had abstained from his job for a few days (which did somewhat upset his new boss). However, Eddie didn't really mind nor seem to care, as all his time was now being spent monitoring the mischievous Carnage.

 

Carnage’s true personality had revealed itself over the past few days. They had a mischievous side and a love for trouble. So far, they had broken three different mugs, hidden away where Eddie wouldn't think to look, attempted twice (both times unsuccessfully) to escape out of the window, and had tried to eat a cat belonging to a neighbor. They would also attempt to bite Eddie on many occasions, and would nip at passerby on the street if Eddie didn't lock them up in a jar of some sort.

 

Luckily, they had yet to outsmart Venom, but many times they had sent even Venom into a panic. Venom and Eddie would always scold the young Carnage, but Carnage never seemed too affected by the scolding. Rather, they seemed to seek out whatever they could do to misbehave, even if it got them negative attention. It was odd, as Venom and Eddie gave Carnage enough attention already, without the negative attention, but Venom had said that being raised by parents wasn't commonplace for their species, and thus Carnage wouldn't share the usual psyche as a human child.

 

Almost two weeks had passed now since Carnage had been born, surprisingly. It was this long lapse of time, along with many emails from his boss, that put Eddie on alert and brought his mind back, once again, to his job.

 

Eddie knew he had to take another case; there was no way his career would survive more than a four week break. Hell, just two weeks was too damaging. After focusing all that time into monitoring Carnage, Eddie knew he’d have to take a big case to recover from any damage his break had inflicted, so he decided it was best to try and interview a prisoner, as prisoners always seemed to spark a large following. A prison was exactly the last place Eddie wanted to go with such a mischievous child like Carnage, but he knew he had no other choice. It was either this or lose the new apartment he had just managed to move into on April 30th.

 

The new apartment was still in San Francisco, as Eddie refused to move out of the city. His new apartment was within a five minute drive from Scott’s house, but Eddie now lived farther away from Anne and Dan. He was still less than twenty minutes away from them, but it was still a more than ten minute long drive. The two of them had yet to visit though, as their jobs kept them both busy.

 

The apartment was larger than his old apartment, and was only a single story with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, along with two main rooms rather than one, a separate room for the kitchen and a laundry room. The apartment complex that it was in was a relatively new complex, having been built in 2010. It was a large apartment complex, with multiple large-sized apartments in each block of the complex.

 

One thing Eddie loved about his new apartment, though, was the fact that he no longer had to deal with any of his old neighbors. No fracas from the apartment next door when his neighbor would decide to play their instruments; no occasional acrid smell whenever the apartment above him decided to burn their meals; no worrying about whether the old woman living in the building could hear him some nights. He had completely new neighbors now.

One was a woman named Ashe who had a small ginger cat and who always liked to go on runs biweekly, as Eddie had noticed. Another was a man who Eddie believed to be named Nicholas (he wasn’t quite sure yet) who almost always had someone over, but still managed to stay decently quiet (most of the time). And the third and final neighbor that Eddie had (unofficially) met was a woman he believed to be named Iris, who had medium length dark hair and almost always had another woman over- her girlfriend, Eddie assumed, given how much PDA the two always displayed while in the hallway together. Not that Eddie minded, but it had caused Carnage to become curious, and a lecture on consent and romance wasn't what Eddie was prepared to give a now-eleven-day-old.

 

Despite the occasional loud song or shouts from other rooms (which were uncommon, maybe twice a week at best), it was a rather pleasant living space overall, Eddie had decided. The neighbors were definitely much nicer, and he lived in a nicer part of town. He would still go back to the area he used to live in and visit Mrs. Chen’s shop plenty though, more than any other store.

 

And, being that Scott lived so close, Eddie had employed him to help him and Venom move. And so, Scott had helped Eddie move into his new apartment, and it was that specific reason why Scott was the only person so far who knew that Eddie had a child. Scott had been rightfully shocked, but he had quickly warmed up to the idea, and had even offered to babysit Carnage if needed. Eddie and Venom had both been pleasantly surprised by the idea, but ultimately turned it down, fearing Carnage might be too much for one person to manage.

 

It was that day when Eddie realized that he hadn't even told anyone. Eddie didn't know why he hadn't told anyone else; Anne had been busy enough with her new job, so perhaps that was why Eddie hadn't told her. He didn't know why he hadn't told her. He knew he should, that she would freak out if she knew he had been keeping Carnage from her, but he just couldn't bring himself to tell her about Carnage. And as more time and days passed, the harder he found it to tell her. That was exactly the opposite of what he needed to do, but sometimes his anxiety got the better of him. This was one of those times. He figured the saying ‘it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission’ might somehow apply in this situation, and that Anne may forgive him for keeping Carnage secret. This definitely didn't seem like something she’d hold too big a grudge over.

 

He sometimes wondered just how long he’d have to raise Carnage before Carnage was old enough to take off and find a host of their own. Venom had told them that even day-old symbiotes can get hosts, but that it's much easier to take on a host after the two-six week marker. Still, neither of them had officially decided when to let Carnage go and find a host. They both knew, though, that Carnage would need a host sooner than later. They just didn't want to give them up just yet.

 

It was the third of May that Eddie woke up to a text from San Quentin prison saying they’d let him interview a prisoner there, a man by the name of Maxwell Elliot who had been accused of being involved in a human trafficking ring. Eddie had specifically asked for a prisoner who hadn't killed someone, and Maxwell Elliot had been in the news recently for being involved in a human trafficking ring, so Eddie figured he would make a good enough story to appease his fan following and his new boss. He had even reached out to his boss the day prior to tell her he’d be taking a new case on a prisoner, albeit not a killer, but she seemed pleased enough.

 

Eddie reached for his phone and gazed sleepily at the text, then groaned and pulled himself up into somewhat of a sitting position. He glanced around to see where Venom was, and quickly spotted the symbiote. Venom was hovering over his body, having emerged from his waist, and was currently paying attention to Carnage, who was lying supine in their shoe-box-bed. They were subdued somewhat, gazing somewhat timidly at Venom as they laid pressed up in a crevice of the shoe box, the old shirt of Eddie’s curling partly over their body. It was an odd sight, each symbiote holding out a tendril towards each other as though they were shaking hands.

 

Neither of the two symbiotes seemed to really notice Eddie was awake; Venom obviously knew, given their bond and all, but at that moment, they seemed more interested in paying attention to Carnage at the moment. Carnage’s eyes didn’t even glance in Eddie’s direction; they seemed perfectly content to lay peacefully for the time being, not bothering to look around the room much at all.

 

Eddie let his eyes roll over and check the time: 8:58 am. The interview was at 2 that afternoon, so Eddie figured he could sleep in a little longer. He stretched his arm out and dug it under his pillow, nestling his face back into it. The pillow was soft, with a custom made San Francisco pillowcase. The softness of the pillow along with the familiar scent of home calmed Eddie, and he stretched out, easing all the slightly tense muscles, and he began to will himself into sleep.

 

The quiet of the apartment, he soon realized, was almost like a lullaby to him; Venom was almost never quiet, so Eddie rarely got peace of mind like this. He didn’t know whether he liked it or not, but it was helping him sleep so he didn’t mind it much. And besides, Eddie didn’t mind that Venom wasn’t talking as much so long as they were paying dutiful attention to Carnage.

 

As the minutes passed by slowly, Eddie became more and more tired, and his feeble grasps on consciousness began to fade. Venom snaked out a small tendril and caressed Eddie’s cheek softly, murmuring a quiet sleep well, Eddie.

 

It took Eddie less than ten minutes to fall back asleep. In that short span of time, Venom continued to watch Carnage closely, caring for the child. Carnage seemed to be sleeping, or at least, was as close to sleeping as symbiotes could get. They weren’t causing any mischief, that was for sure, which Venom was happy about.

Even as Eddie fell back asleep, Carnage showed no signs of wanting to get up and tear through the apartment, which Venom was also happy about. And as Eddie continued to sleep, Carnage laid peacefully in the shoe-box bed, perfectly quiet and somewhat subdued.

~~~~~

Eddie woke back up at 11, and by then, Carnage was more awake and ready for destruction. Venom had resorted to locking Carnage in a strawberry jar, and Carnage sat looking somewhat miffed, glancing around the room through the glass.

 

“What did Carnage try to do this time?” Were the first words from Eddie’s mouth that morning. Carnage made a small sound, one that sounded like a mix between a growl and a mewl, still looking miffed as Venom turned their attention towards Eddie.

 

“Tried to bite your hand off while you slept.” Venom relayed, letting their eyes gaze briefly back to Carnage, who looked both unamused and insulted.

 

“Did not.” They mumbled, gazing pointedly at the wall. Eddie just sighed and sat up a little, rubbing his tired eyes. As he yawned, Venom sank back into his skin, settling once more on Eddie’s collarbone. Eddie walked over and held the jar up, glancing at Carnage inside. Their silky white eyes were gleaming with annoyance, and they scanned Eddie’s face dutifully.

 

“Are you gonna behave now?” He asked, biting his lip lightly as his eyes locked with Carnage’s. Carnage darted their eyes away. “I’m gonna take that as a maybe. When you agree to behave, I’ll let you out of timeout.”

 

Carnage huffed but stayed quiet, not bothering to reply or defend themselves. Eddie just shrugged and placed the jar on the table, then began to fix himself breakfast. Breakfast that morning was just cereal and chocolate milk, and Venom didn't seem to argue. Venom themselves had seemed a bit subdued lately, only when Carnage was behaving. When Carnage lashed out, Venom would be on high alert until Carnage calmed back down.

 

Eddie. Venom murmured, softly so that Carnage couldn't hear what Venom was saying. Are you sure the prisoner we will interview hasn't killed anyone?

 

Yes. Eddie thought back, attempting to reassure Venom. He’s involved in a human trafficking ring, and that's it. We can use him as an example of a bad guy.

 

Venom didn't seem so convinced, but they sent a nod of assent through their bond. Alright. But we beg you, please keep Carnage in a jar while we’re there. Last thing we need is for them to try and bond to a prisoner.

 

Don't worry, V. That was my plan.

 

Eddie began to munch away on his cereal, striking up a small conversation with Venom, completely through thoughts. Venom seemed happy, truly happy. Eddie loved that.

Chapter Text

It was the third of May when Stark Tower descended into celebration. After months of absence, Thor and Bruce were both returning from New Asgard. Their return was cause for celebration; it had been quite a while since the two had been in the presence of all of the others. All of them were overwhelmingly excited.

 

Peter seemed especially excited; he would always talk about anything and everything science related that he could with Bruce. Bruce was, somewhat surprisingly and somewhat unsurprisingly, the only other person Peter gazed at with an awed, amazed stare. It amused many of those in Avengers Tower; even Tony found it joyful that Peter admired Bruce so much. Bruce, personally, had been completely perturbed by it, but had come to accept it, and would help Peter out with any science projects he had.

 

Thor and Bruce’s plane was to land on the Avengers Tower landing zone at 2 that afternoon, and so in the meantime, the tower was thrown into a mix of chaos and joy. Everyone was off doing something, and not a soul was left alone that day.

 

Natasha had taken it upon herself to help Clint, Sam and Bucky clean up some of the floors, despite Tony insisting they were already clean. Peter had joined in as well, taking time off from his homework to help the others clean. While Natasha, Sam, Bucky and Peter cleaned the floors and rooms, Clint had taken off to clean the vents. He had not only cleaned his floor completely, but he had also been complaining for days that the vents were somewhat dusty and had finally taken it upon himself to dust them all out.

 

“I still don't see the point of taking a feather duster and manually cleaning the vents, but you do you I guess.” Sam had remarked when Clint had grabbed a ladder to climb into the vents. Clint hadn't heard him, though; Clint’s hearing aids had been malfunctioning lately, so he often missed a remark here or there. Not that he ever noticed, and no one ever really thought to tell him.

 

Strange had gone back to Wong for part of the day, but was set to return at one that afternoon, so as to be there to welcome Thor and Bruce back from New Asgard. Tony, meanwhile, was away tinkering in his lab. Shuri and Ned, who had both stayed over in Peter’s floor, were reciting vines to one another as they waited for Peter to finishing cleaning.

 

Steve had stayed on his floor, preparing some food for when Thor and Bruce arrived, despite Tony insisting they’d have plenty of food. Steve nowadays rarely passed up an opportunity to cook. It had become a hobby of his and Bucky’s, though Bucky seemed to prefer baking things while Steve liked cooking meals.

 

It was close to one pm when Peter lifted his head to see Pepper walking towards him, a clipboard tucked tightly against her chest. She seemed to have a determined glare in her eyes, and as she walked, her tightly done-up hair bounced a little. When she finally stopped her stride, she glanced at Peter and nodded curtly before turning her head to gaze about the room. “Where's Tony? There's a small matter in the company that I thought I should bring to him.”

 

“He’s in his lab.” Peter replied with a nod, still holding a bottle of window cleaner in his hand. He held up a hand and pointed to the elevator, then turned his head. “It's nice to see you, Ms. Potts.”

 

“Same to you, Peter.” She mused, and she began to stride towards the elevator, her heels clacking on the hard floor. Despite her misgivings with Tony in the past, she still ran the company and thus was still a friend of Tony’s.

 

She and Tony had dated for a while, from 2008 all the way until 2012, when they broke up due to undisclosed reasons. Pepper, however, still talked to Tony plenty, and they remained good friends, despite everything. She would often visit Stark Tower, as it was almost like her baby, and she'd always be there on Fridays with two cups of coffee in her hands, one for herself and one for Tony. Her presence had become so common, in fact, that all of the Avengers knew the sound of her heels by heart.

 

The cleaning was completely finished by a quarter past one, by which time Pepper had come and gone already, and the sound of her heels had dissipated from the silent floors. Clint had come down from the vents, satisfied with the way they now shone (not that anyone but him would ever really see it). Natasha had taken off out of Stark Tower to get coffee from the Starbucks across the street, and Clint had ran off after her, begging her to wait up for him. Bucky had gone back to his and Steve’s floor to start baking things alongside Steve. Sam had gone to their floor as well, and had retired to his own room to read and find something to do on his computer to pass the time. Strange had also arrived from his own personal business, and had gone to Tony’s lab to make sure he wasn’t pushing himself too hard.

 

Peter had gone back up to his floor to try and finish his homework. When he had arrived on his floor, he walked into his room to a yell of “THIS BITCH EMPTY” only for Peter to scream “YEET” and chuck the window cleaner he was holding across the room. Shuri and Ned had both burst into fits of laughter as Peter scrambled to pick up the now discarded window cleaner.

 

Tony was still in his lab, tinkering away, until Strange formed a portal into their shared bathroom and forced Tony to shower. Tony had walked in grumbling, as Strange left a peach colored towel next to the shower for Tony to dry himself with. After that, Strange went and got some food from the nearby Subway, and brought it back to the main dining floor, calling for everyone to come to him.

 

When everyone (excluding Tony) gathered for food, Strange handed out each of their orders to them. After staying with the Avengers for months, Strange knew everyone's orders. Not to mention, he always brought with him a paper of everyone's orders just in case he forgot one of them.

 

Tony came down at 1:30, and the food was gone within minutes. Everyone then went back to their separate floors, awaiting the arrival of Thor and Bruce by plane.

 

It was at 3 that afternoon, just a few minutes past, when Tony was alerted that the plane had landed. “They're here!” Tony had cried through the intercom, catching the attention of everyone in the building.

 

Peter had practically fell off his bed in an attempt to scramble to the elevator. Ned and Shuri had burst into fits of laughter as they followed Peter to the elevator.

 

Natasha and Clint had both walked ambly to the elevator, patient but excited to see Thor and Bruce again. Steve and Bucky had both gotten to the elevator rather quickly, and Strange had just portaled himself and Tony to the launch pad.

 

The launch pad was connected to one of the upper floors, and by the time the doors of the plane had opened, all of the Avengers were waiting eagerly for Thor and Bruce. When the doors of the plane opened, Thor and Bruce were the first ones to get out of the plane, and were welcomed by open arms as they both sped walk towards the group.

 

“Save a little love for us!” Came a voice as Thor and Bruce fell into the arms of Tony and Steve. Everyone but Thor and Bruce turned to see Loki climbing out of the plane, followed closely by Valkyrie, who dipped her head to get out of the plane. She then stepped onto the ground, held her head up and cocked it to the side a little, letting her eyes glance at each of the Avengers in turn.

 

Peter and Shuri yelped and ran towards Thor and Bruce, practically dive-bombing into their arms. And then, after giving Thor and Bruce big hugs, Peter and Shuri scrambled over to Loki with their arms held out wide, grins on their faces as they barreled into their close friend, wrapping their arms around him. Loki laughed a little as they collided with him, and he ruffled their hair with his hands, and briefly locked eyes with Ned, who seemed overall intimidated yet euphoric to be surrounded by so many important heroes.

 

“I presume your flight was good?” Tony asked, glancing at Thor, who looked cheery-eyed. Thor nodded eagerly, grasping Bruce’s hand briefly as he glanced at Tony.

 

“The food service was odd, and they didn't have any beer, but it was otherwise amazing. They showed us a movie, which I enjoyed.” Thor replied, swinging an arm around Bruce, who stood tiptoed to press a chaste kiss to Thor’s cheek. Thor responded with a smile, and he held Bruce up to press a chaste kiss to his lips, as Shuri and Peter exclaimed “is this allowed” behind them.

 

“Well, its good to see you two again.” Natasha remarked with a smile, brushing her red hair out of her face. She nodded her head in Bruce’s direction, and he gave her a curt nod in return.

 

“Do pray tell that remark falls to us as well?” Loki had exclaimed, glancing in the direction of the other Avengers. When silence was received, Loki just nodded his head somberly. “Of course. I see sentiments are still far off, but no worry. No excuse to be ambivalent, all things considered.” He then turned his attention back to Peter and Shuri, who were still grinning, eager to tell him of all the mischief they had both been up to since his departure back in December. Ned had also walked up towards them, holding out a hand to shake Loki’s.

 

The Avengers quickly turned their attention back to Thor and Bruce, who had broken apart and were now standing there side by side. “How is Avengers Tower prospering?” Thor questioned, holding his head up a little to glance around as they began to walk inside.

 

“It's doing well.” Replied Wanda, who was holding hands with Vision as she walked, a giddy smile on her face. “I hope New Asgard is doing the same?”

 

“It is.” Thor said with a nod, glancing around with his normal eye. “It is flourishing, as always, thanks to Tony’s generous supply-giving.”

 

Tony shook his head and grinned. “Anything for you, Point Break.”

 

“How long are you gonna stay, Uncle Thor?” Peter piped up, walking back with Loki a few feet behind the others. He was walking just a foot ahead of Loki, still close enough to talk to him and yet also close enough to the Avengers to make his voice heard.

 

“We shouldn't stay more than 2 days.” Thor replied solemnly, shaking his head. “I wish to stay longer, but a festival is approaching in New Asgard and I must be home for it.”

 

Bruce nodded in agreement, clutching tightly at Thor’s arm as they walked along, into the elevator to go down to the main floor. They took the largest elevator, one large enough to fit all of them, and they all crowded into it and rode it down to the main floor. Once the elevator came to a stop, the doors glided open and they all filled out into the room.

 

“I see you’ve made some adjustments.” Bruce remarked with a nod, glancing at some of the new tech in the room. His eyes fell on each piece of new tech, and a sort of lambent light filled his eyes.

 

Shuri held her hand up, smiling as Bruce turned his head. “That is of my design. I visit here plenty, and I decided to lend Tony some tech on one of those occasions. It's nowhere near my best tech, but it is advanced enough to bring benefits to Avengers Tower.”

 

Bruce nodded his head, glancing at the Wakandan tech. “I see. It’s very good.”

 

“Shuri is very capable.” Bucky commented, glancing towards her, as she turned and beamed with pride. “She did make my arm, after all.”

 

“She's even taught me a few things.” Tony interjected, stepping forward to glance briefly at the new tech. He whistled for Strange, who quickly portaled some drinks and food into the room. Thor stepped forward and took a glass of beer that Tony handed him, and also took a cup of tea to give to Bruce, who accepted it graciously.

 

“Thank you.” Bruce murmured, nodding in Tony and Strange’s direction as he drank deeply. Tony just nodded in response and began handing drinks out to everyone in the room, from Peter and Shuri to Sam and Wanda and even Loki, though Loki received a glare with the drink. Soon, the tower had descended into chatter, and all seemed well.

Chapter Text

Eddie resigned himself to leaving the house at 1:15 that afternoon. Leaving a quarter past 1 would give him plenty of time to get to San Quentin, regardless of whether there was traffic or not. And so, he began to prepare lunch at 12:15, to give himself plenty of time to eat, shower, get dressed and be out the door by 1:15. He figured 45 minutes would be plenty of time to get to San Quentin. And so, he began to fix himself some lunch, despite having breakfast less than two hours earlier.

 

Lunch that day was a grilled cheese sandwich and a side of tater tots that Eddie had just barely burned while preparing them. The edges of the sandwich were a very dark brown, almost black, and looked clearly burnt. The edges were hot to the touch, so Eddie cut away the hot edges and began to eat away, savoring the taste.

 

Venom, meanwhile, munched happily on the tater tots while simultaneously keeping an eye on Carnage, who was still in time-out in a jar. Their eyes were almost completely closed, and they looked as though they were sleeping. Venom knew they weren’t, but they looked too peaceful to be disturbed, so Venom left them alone to lay peacefully.

 

The sun filtered through the windows in the apartment in rays, flooding the room in a warm, lambent light. Nearly everything that littered Eddie’s apartment was illuminated, glowing either orange or yellow in the noon sun. The light gave a peaceful look to his empty apartment, and Eddie loved it.

 

The grilled cheese sandwich was gone in minutes, and Eddie began to grab some towels to take a shower. As the water began to run, Eddie put the small strawberry jar with Carnage in it inside a larger jar as a precaution to make sure Carnage didn’t escape while he took a shower. Carnage didn’t seem to take much notice, but rather curled up into an even tighter ball in the corner of the smaller jar.

 

The water had been running for around two minutes when Eddie finally undressed and stepped in. He relished the feel of the hot water against his calloused skin. It was a nice feeling, to be able to just take a hot shower without worrying much about anything. As he ran his hands through his hair and lathered it, Venom moved and rested on Eddie’s collarbone, laying pacified as the hot water ran down Eddie’s skin. Eddie just stood under the hot water calmly for a while, soaking it all in.

 

The shower lasted only a few minutes, and by the time it was over, it was almost 1 in the afternoon. Eddie took the small jar with Carnage in it and let Carnage out for a few minutes while he got dressed. Carnage began to slither around on the counter, taking everything in as though they hadn’t been out in days. Carnage stretched out a tendril to try and grab a tater tot, so Eddie grabbed the bag of tater tots and heated them up. Once the microwave dinged, Eddie took out the plate of tater tots out of the microwave and put the plate down so Carnage could munch on them.

 

Carnage munched happily on the tater tots as Eddie got dressed, pulling on his usual fashion of dress: a gray hoodie and some slightly ripped, worn jeans.

 

Carnage had already finished off the plate of tater tots by the time Eddie was dressed, and by then, it was 1:05. Not wanting to leave too early, Eddie fixed two more plates of tater tots; one for Carnage and one for Venom. Venom devoured the tater tots in less than a minute, while Carnage took a bit more time to savor the flavor of the tater tots. Eddie, meanwhile, took a bag of chips and munched on it, all the while enjoying a nice, cool glass of crisp tap water.

 

When the clock struck 1:15, Eddie put Carnage in his backpack along with the small strawberry jar, and he swung the backpack over his back and walked outside. After closing his door and locking his apartment up, Eddie turned and gave a curt nod to one of his neighbors, the woman with shoulder length dark hair, who happened to be standing outside the apartment next to him, as though she was waiting on someone. She turned her head and paused momentarily before she glanced rather briefly at him.

 

“Going out?” She murmured, tossing her hair back as her dark eyes glanced at Eddie and the backpack on his back. When he nodded, she nodded in return and began to blow a bubble of bubblegum. Once the bubble of bubblegum popped she turned her head again and glanced at Eddie. “Nice day to go out, I have to say.”

 

“Is it?” Eddie questioned, glancing towards the door. His neighbor nodded, blowing another bubble of bubblegum.

 

“The sun’s out, and it’s around 68 degrees, so it’s not too cold out. I’d definitely recommend taking a run or going to the park.” She then suddenly cocked her head, letting her waves bounce a little. “I don’t think we’ve properly met. I’m Alejandra.”

 

Eddie nodded, peering briefly at her. “The name’s Eddie.”

 

The both of them then heard footsteps, and Eddie’s neighbor then cocked her head at the arrival of the woman who was always with her, and Eddie took the opportunity to go downstairs. When he got outside, he dug his key into his bike and put his helmet on. He then took off, enjoying the familiar purr of the bikes engine as he went.

 

The cool May air brushed against his face as he drove, giving him a nice feeling. He enjoyed the sight of the green trees as he drove, the feeling of the cool air and the sight of people walking about on the streets. Sure enough, as his neighbor Alejandra had said, it was a very nice day out. Eddie soaked up the sun as he drove, and even Venom seemed happy to be outside again. Carnage had been keeping the two of them cooped up in their new apartment, so it had been a few days since they got to just go outside and enjoy the sun.

 

As Eddie drove onto a bridge and into the afternoon traffic, the sun rose a little and bathed the roads in warm rays. The sun began to bake Eddie’s back, so Venom moved the backpack a little so Carnage wasn’t getting beat on with sun rays.

 

The drive was a half hour of cool breezes and baking in the sun, but Eddie reached San Quentin quick enough. As he began to pull up towards the prison, the gates opened up for him and he drove into the visitor parking lot. When he stepped off the bike, he zipped open the bag and took his helmet off.

 

“Alright Carnage, I’m sorry, but you’re gonna have to go in the jar while we’re here.” Eddie spoke, picking up both Carnage and the strawberry jar.

 

Carnage seemed a bit miffed, but reluctantly slithered into the jar anyways without much protest. Once Carnage had curled themselves up into the jar, Eddie screwed the top back on and put the jar in his backpack. Eddie then heaved the backpack up a little, grabbed his pen and paper, and made his way to the door. When he got inside, he held up the notepad he was holding and remarked, “I’m Eddie Brock, here to interview Maxwell Elliot.”

 

The man sitting by the door nodded and stood up. “Alright, I’ll call someone over to take you to interview him.” The man walked over and picked up a phone on the wall, then spoke into it and hung it back on the wall. He then turned and faced Eddie, letting his eyes scan over Eddie’s face. “You can sit down while you wait, if you want.” The man gestured to the chairs by the wall.

 

Eddie nodded and walked over to the chairs, taking a second to sit down in one of them and set his backpack in the chair next to it, and waited patiently.
A few minutes passed before someone finally walked over with a pair of keys in their hands. They gestured for Eddie to stand up and follow them, and he grabbed his backpack and walked over to them.

 

The person opened the door to a long hallway and began to whistle softly. “First time here?” The person asked, looking curiously at Eddie as they twirled the keys in their hand.

 

“No, I interviewed a prisoner here before. Pretty sure his name was Cletus.”

 

The person paused for a second. “You interviewed Cletus Kasady?” They asked incredulously, taking a moment before they continued to walk. Eddie nodded, a bit confused, before the person spoke again. “I’ve had the bad luck of walking by that dude’s cage before. He’s terrifying, so much so that I actually got a nightmare that night and didn’t go to work the next day.”

 

“Really?” Eddie questioned, glancing at the person as they nodded feverently. “I mean, he did seem pretty creepy when I interviewed him, but is he really that scary?”

 

The person continued to nod feverently, letting their light colored eyes dart nervously around the hall. “He really, genuinely is. I’ve only been working here for ten weeks, but according to some of the other employees in here, we’ve had at least nine people quiet because of him. Each one complained that he was way too creepy for them to handle, and that they couldn’t bear working here with him observing them from his cell.” The person then shivered, and glanced down the hallway as they began to approach the cell block where Maxwell Elliot was being held. “Oh, I don’t know if I’ve introduced myself yet. My name’s Rowan.”

 

“Eddie Brock.” Eddie replied, and he lifted his head as they reached the cell block. Rowan twirled the keys a bit in their hands, and then whistled for a guard who was standing near them. The guard perked up, nodded, and took off in another direction.

 

“We’ve gotta take Elliot to a room for you to interview him, so follow me.” Rowan gestured for Eddie to follow them, and Eddie did. The walk lasted barely two minutes before they got to the interview room, and Rowan led Eddie into the side of the room that was meant for him.

 

Maxwell Elliot sat on the opposite side of the glass, gazing at Eddie with slightly hollowed gray eyes. Maxwell’s appearance was odd; he had dark, curly hair that was neatly combed, clean white teeth and nice, clear skin. He didn’t share the typical hostile, unclean, ruffled appearance that Eddie typically saw in prisoners. It was rather noteworthy, Eddie considered.

 

Rowan then left the room, and opened the door to let a guard in. The guard shot a brief glance at Eddie before walking up to the glass. “Alright Elliot, this is Eddie Brock. He’s here to interview you, and I expect you to be nice and behave yourself.” Spoke the guard, glaring pointedly at Maxwell, who just nodded plainly and glanced at Eddie curiously.

 

“You that famous journalist?” Maxwell asked, brushing his dark curls out of his eyes. Eddie nodded, and Maxwell gazed at the wall. “Alright. I’ll answer whatever questions you have. Fire away.”

 

Eddie shifted a little in his seat, and grabbed his notepad and his pen. Maxwell seemed to glimpse at Eddie as he shifted, but he seemed overall uninterested in the entire situation. Eddie clasped his pen firmly, then opened his mouth to speak.

~~~~~

Eddie got back to his apartment at 5 that evening. The interview had taken a little over an hour; it should’ve taken longer, but Maxwell was very compliant and answered every question with no hesitation.

 

He had said it was because he had a wife and a young daughter that he wanted to see again, and that if he was compliant, he’d hopefully get out before his daughter graduated. A noble response, Eddie had thought. For a guy who was involved in human trafficking, he cared deeply about his family and was willing to give up his allies to see them again. Not that Eddie liked the guy, but he appreciated people who had strong familial ties, as he’d never particularly had any.

 

After the interview, Eddie had stopped by a restaurant to get some food for him, Venom and Carnage, whom Eddie presumed had been resting during the interview.

 

Unbeknownst to both Eddie and Venom, however, Carnage had been listening and watching eagerly to the entire conversation. The name Cletus Kasady had intrigued Carnage; they’d never understand some of the names humans gave to their kids.

 

However, the man’s ability to scare people so easily intrigued Carnage. Now this man was someone Carnage had to meet. And so, Carnage formed a plan. A plan to escape, to find a host in that prison, to get out from under his parents protective eyes. And boy oh boy, were they determined to fulfill their plan.

Chapter Text

“Carnage! Come on, stop hiding! I have breakfast!” Yelled Eddie, as he searched the apartment for Carnage, who had once again hidden themselves away that morning. Carnage had hidden themselves in a tight crevice in a damp, dark room of the apartment, wanting a moment to think their plan over.

 

All they needed to do was wait until both Venom and Eddie were distracted, and then they’d be able to escape through the window and hitch a ride to the prison. They didn't know exactly how they’d hitch a ride to the prison, but they figured they could bond to some poor bastard long enough to get to the prison. That's what they figured, and so that's what they were leaning on.

 

“Carnage!” Yelled Eddie once more, as he lifted up pillows off the couch to try and look for Carnage. Carnage huffed, exasperated, and slithered out into the main room, where they were immediately scooped up into Eddie’s hands. “Carnage! What have we told you about hiding? You need to stop hiding all the time!”

 

Carnage just nodded quietly as Eddie sighed exasperatedly and placed Carnage down on the counter. As Carnage sighed, their eyes traveled over the countertop. And there laid a large plate of chicken, chocolate and tater tots as breakfast, and Carnage lit up and quickly slithered towards the plate. As soon as they reached it, they devoured the plate of food, eating noisily as Eddie just grabbed his cinnamon toast, lathered it in butter and began lightly munching on it. Venom took their own plate of chicken, tater tots and chocolate, and were munching happily on it, while simultaneously keeping watch over the mischievous Carnage, who was still eating rather noisily.

Despite being only 12 days old, Carnage had gotten into more trouble than Eddie and Venom could handle. They hid in the apartment nearly seven times a day, always scrambled their food down with immense vigor and broke things left and right. Venom had had children before, most of whom he couldn’t remember after spawning so many times. But never had Venom actually tried to raise a child. It was strange.

 

During the many nights when Eddie was asleep and had let Venom use his laptop, Venom had looked up different movies and documentaries on different things. Once, Venom had watched a documentary on parenting, and multiple movies about families and raising children. The human way of child rearing had interested the symbiote, but never had they thought they’d have to use any of the techniques they had seen in the movies and the documentary. However, the longer Venom stayed on earth, the more human customs they picked up. And it had been so long since they departed from their home planet that Venom had long left behind many of the lessons they had learned living on their home planet. They enjoyed living on earth, and they hoped that their feeling would extend to Carnage as well, and that Carnage would enjoy life on earth.

 

Breakfast passed by quickly, with little conversation. The most that happened was Carnage nearly broke their plate after their food was devoured, and Venom had had to throw a tendril out to catch the plate before it shattered onto the ground.

 

Eddie was the last to finish eating that morning, despite him having the least amount of food to even eat. By the time Venom and Carnage both finished their food, Eddie still had a quarter of his toast left. As Eddie munched slowly on their toast, Carnage sat still, as though they were thinking deeply about something.

 

“Now Carnage, don’t go running off.” Eddie remarked sternly, peering pointedly at Carnage, who was making their way to move off the countertop. They scowled at Eddie, as Eddie moved forward and picked up the dishes. When Eddie glanced over and saw Carnage scowling, Eddie just sighed and shook his head. “You know the rules, Carnage. You just need to start following them.”

 

Carnage just sighed and bubbled down a little, laying somewhat flat on the kitchen countertop, four feet from the window that sunlight was filtering in through. It was a beautiful day outside, with the sun burning brightly and the warmth of the sun lit the world in a warm glow. It was peaceful.

 

As Eddie began to scrub the dishes, Venom watched Carnage sternly for a few moments as Carnage lay pacified on the countertop. It was odd to see Carnage lay as pacified and subdued as they were, but Carnage seemed to enjoy just lying about doing nothing. Venom figured that was good, as long as Carnage wasn’t getting into any trouble.

 

A few minutes of Venom carefully watching Carnage passed by, and Eddie was still washing the dishes, as he hadn't washed any dishes since he moved into the apartment. Venom finally took their eyes off of Carnage for a moment to help Eddie wash the dishes, and it was then that Carnage snatched up the opportunity.

 

Slowly and cautiously, as Venom and Eddie were distracted, Carnage slithered over to the window and hid onto the wall outside. Making their way down slowly, they snuck onto the ground and slithered as close to the wall as they could.

 

Venom noticed Carnage’s disappearance just seconds after they had reached the ground. “EDDIE!” They had screamed, “CARNAGE IS GONE!”

 

Eddie dropped the plate he was washing with a clatter, and began frantically searching the apartment, yelling for Carnage.

 

Carnage, meanwhile, found a young man who was about to get into a car, and Carnage latched themselves onto the person and bonded to them. The man shook, before gripping the steering wheel tightly. And then, the man began to drive towards San Quentin, heavily influenced by Carnage.

 

A few minutes of Eddie and Venom searching the apartment with utmost panic passed by, and that was when they noticed the window was open. Eddie bolted down the stairs, not even caring that one of his neighbors had seen him. He bolted onto the street and began searching anxiously for Carnage; who was nowhere to be seen.

 

Eddie. Venom spoke, panic filling their voice. What if they bonded to someone?

 

Eddie hid in the alley next to his apartment and held back a choked sob. “V,” He began, panic still dripping from their voice, “I think we’ll need to call in some help.”

~~~~~

Carnage, with the help of his temporary host, reached San Quentin prison in just under half an hour. They had impatiently sped through traffic, not caring whether their host got in trouble. Their host seemed panicked, not being able to control their hands and feet, but Carnage hadn't paid any mind.

 

As soon as they reached the prison, Carnage forced their host to walk into the visitor’s entrance.

 

“Here to see somebody?” The main guard asked, raising an eyebrow at Carnage’s host. Without any warning, Carnage’s host leapt forward, wrapping their hands around the guard’s neck, almost in an attempt to strangle him. The guard fought the man off, but not before Carnage slipped into the guard’s body. As soon as Carnage left his first hosts body, the man fell to the floor with a thud and laid unconscious and unmoving.

 

Now under the influence of Carnage, the main guard made his way towards Cletus Kasady’s cell, past many other prisoners and skeptic or stern guards.

 

“Going to Kasady?” One of them asked. The guard, under Carnage’s influence, nodded plainly. “Alright. I assume you're not going to give him food, so go and give him hell.” The guard Carnage was using just nodded.

 

The guard walked down winding halls and corridors, and almost each one was empty, unless it lead to a cell block, in which case there would be a few guards standing there diligently.

 

As the door to the large room opened, the man in the middle of the room looked up, his red curls bouncing a little. He was none other than Cletus Kasady, and he was held behind two rows of stainless steel bars, some slightly rusted and some tinted red with his blood that he would smear on the walls when he got bored.

 

“Huh. Lucky me, getting two visits from you in one day.” Cletus remarked dryly, glancing pointedly at the guard. The guard said nothing, and instead walked closer to the cell. “Ooh, risky. I like.” Cletus drawled, looking at the guard with an almost excited expression. “You must be some tough guy, approaching my cell so easily.”

 

The guard stopped just two feet in front of the first barrier of Cletus’s cell, and he suddenly crumpled to the floor.

 

Cletus paused, and then his eyes widened in surprise as a red goo, too solid to be blood, streamed out of the guard’s body. The goo suddenly began to move, closer and closer to Cletus, who just watched it with intrigue. And suddenly, as soon as the goo reached where Cletus was sitting, it leapt forward onto him and sunk into his skin with no warning.

 

Cletus heaved and stood up almost immediately, trembling as his body adjusted to the strange goo. What even was the goo? Cletus had no idea, but it had entered his body somehow, and he could tell. He flexed his fingers and tried to move his restrained arms, and suddenly, the restraints tore a little. Cletus grinned evilly, and forced his arms apart more until the restraints broke. He laughed.

 

And suddenly, as the broken restraints fell to the floor, he heard a voice speak to him.

 

Our name is Carnage. The voice was deep, and it sounded like it was inside Cletus’s head; he had heard voices before, but not like this. None of the voices he had had ever named themselves, so this voice intrigued Cletus.

 

“And who is this Carnage?” Cletus spoke, peering briefly at the guard on the floor. There was a pause before hr voice replied.

 

We are a symbiote. Carnage replied tersely. We are an alien, and we are inside your body.

 

“Huh. Kinky.” Cletus remarked with a drawl, raising his eyebrows skeptically.

 

Would you like to leave this boring cell?

 

“Oh,” Cletus said with an evil, sadistic grin, “would I.”

 

Try bending the bars.

 

Cletus raised an eyebrow skeptically, but stepped forward and held his hands out to the bars. He pushed against them, and with very little effort, he bent every single bar completely out of shape. Widening his eyes in surprise, he climbed out his his cell, ripping off each one of his restraints with spectacular ease.

 

An alarm sounded as soon as he stepped out of his cell, and Cletus, hearing the alarm, immediately grabbed the unconscious body of the guard and held it up as a shield. Guards came pouring into the room, and a roar of gunshots followed. When the gunfire stopped, the body shield fell to the ground, and the shield Carnage had formed as a backup dissipated as Carnage fused back into Cletus’s skin.

 

Cletus let out a wild laugh as the multiple guns in the room clicked, empty of bullets. He began laughing hysterically as more guards came along, including the guard from yesterday, who Carnage remembered was named Rowan. Carnage noticed that many of the guards, including Rowan, had an expression of fear clearly written on their faces. For some reason, that amused Carnage.

 

The new guards brought with them new guns, and yet another roar of gunshots followed, but this time, the only shield was the one Carnage formed. As all the guards looked at Cletus with expressions of fear mingled with utter confusion, Cletus just laughed wildly.
A red tendril then suddenly darted from Cletus’s side, knocking each and every guard out in seconds. Those who still stood were impaled in the arms over and over until they collapsed to the ground, either from the pain or just from passing out due to blood loss.

 

Cletus let out an exhilarated laugh as more and more bodies fell to the floor. Clearly, he was very entertained with the situation.

 

Seizing the opportunity of no guards in his room, Cletus ran into the empty hallway leading to the outside, and cocked his head when he heard the sound of rapid, charged footsteps. There, around the bend, stood more guards, yet Cletus just laughed as more tendrils shot out and knocked each guard out, impaling some in the shoulder.

 

“Why don't you kill ‘em, have a little fun?” Cletus jeered as he ran to the outside door and forced it open. The cool May air rushed against his skin, and he inhaled deeply. It had been years since he had been outside. The surrounding scenery was bright and green, a beautiful sight. Many people would want to just take the beauty in, but Cletus had a different idea in mind.

 

“Now,” Cletus drawled, scanning his eyes over the surrounding scenery, “let's go cause some destruction.”

 

~~~~~

 

Eddie and Venom had been checking news sources like crazy in the half hour following Carnage’s escape. They hoped that Carnage would actually cause a stir, so they would be able to track them. Of course, a baby symbiote that was fresh out into the world would noticeably cause a stir of some sort, as Carnage didn’t know how to manage the world like Eddie and Venom did.

 

They were bound to make a mistake or two, to break some sort of societal law that they had yet to be taught by Venom and Eddie. And without Eddie and Venom there to feed Carnage, Carnage would most likely have to kill someone rather soon, or at least raid a grocery store or convenience store of some kind. All Eddie and Venom had to do was watch out for stories of people being beheaded or dying in an odd fashion, and they’d find Carnage.

 

They had, in addition, called Scott almost immediately after they realized Carnage had gotten out, crying frantically that their child had escaped and they’d need helping finding them. Scott reassured both Eddie and Venom that he would also keep an eye out and that he would try to help them should they need some backup when they found Carnage. He had, in addition, said he would have his friends keep an eye out for strange news stories (though he wouldn’t tell any of them why he needed them to look out for strange news stories), and Eddie and Venom had thanked him profusely.

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Scott had replied with a smile, “You two just focus on finding your kid, okay?” Eddie and Venom had just nodded in reply.

 

Venom and Eddie had been watching the news carefully, keeping a keen eye on every single story that played that morning. Venom had taken to watching the TV dutifully while Eddie wrote his article, the one he needed to publish by the following Monday, which was a mere two days away. Eddie typed frantically on his laptop for minutes, trying to write his article without letting his anxiety pour into his writing.

 

It was quite difficult to do, as his fingers were shaking ever so slightly, but Eddie managed. As he typed dutifully away on his laptop, his fingers flying over the keyboard, Venom watched the TV diligently, watching for any breaking news story that featured someone being killed or beheaded. Most of the news that was on that morning was just regular old boring news, Venom determined. No deaths so far, no stories mentioned a solid red person or any sort of gooey red substance near a crime scene.

 

An hour had passed since Carnage’s escape, an hour of Eddie & Venom searching with panic, of Eddie typing and Venom watching the news, when a story on the TV caught the eyes of Venom. It was then when Venom sent a signal through their bond, and Eddie immediately lifted his head to glimpse at the TV.

 

A special news report was playing, being presented by the same reporter who had reported on Eddie himself the first time his name was dragged through the mud after he lost his TV show. Eddie couldn’t help but grit his teeth slightly at the reporter as she began to talk. And the story she presented, however, stopped Eddie and Venom dead in their tracks. The fearsome serial killer Cletus Kasady had escaped from solitary confinement at San Quentin prison, and what’s more, Eddie noticed, the guards who had witnessed the escape said they saw a red, goopy shield form out of his skin to protect him.

All that Eddie and Venom could think were two simple words: Oh no.

~~~~~

On the second day of Thor, Bruce, Loki and Valkyrie’s visit, life had returned to normal in the tower. Ned had gone home early that morning, to the disappointment of Peter. Pepper had visited again that morning, around ten am, to discuss something else in the company with Tony.

 

Shuri, who was still at Stark Tower, was working on more designs in the custom lab Tony had installed for her to use on the same floor as his lab. Peter had joined her, and he would work on his science project while she invented new technology for Wakanda.

 

Lunch that day had been a simple affair; everyone ate on their own floors, making themselves separate meals. Lunch happened rather early, right at noon. However, it was a single call at around half past noon that stopped all of them from finishing their lunch.

 

The call brought all of them down to the main conference room, and they all stared at each other before the line clicked. Once everyone was seated, the frantic voice of Eddie Brock filled the room and uttered a single sentence. “I need your help.”

Chapter Text

“So you’re saying you have a kid?” Tony asked incredulously, glancing at the holograph of Eddie that had been lit up in the middle of the room.

 

“Yes, how else can we say it?” Eddie hissed, rubbing his glabella in frustration. “We had a kid, and turns out that kid isn’t what we thought they were. They bonded to that goddamned Cletus Kasady, and we need your help! People are gonna die if we don’t do something, but Venom and I figured who better to enlist in taking a bad person down than the Avengers themselves?”

 

“Alright, alright,” Tony protested, holding his hands up in a ‘calm down’ gesture, “We’ll help you two find your crazed kid. Do you have any idea where your kid might be headed?”

 

“If Carnage is bonded to Cletus, then we have to think of where Cletus would be headed, not Carnage.” Venom remarked, glancing pointedly at the Avengers with their anxious white eyes. “Carnage may be able to hold some measure of influence over their host, but something is telling us that Carnage is gonna let Cletus take control and that Carnage will just follow him.”

 

A few of the Avengers tilted their heads judgingly, but Eddie spoke out. “I agree with Venom.” Eddie mused, glancing at Venom, who was wrapped tightly against Eddie’s shoulder in an attempt to calm themselves down some. “Carnage is still a baby. They don’t know how to navigate the world properly. They’re gonna follow Cletus for now and do whatever he wants. We know Carnage, what they’re like. And we’re pretty damn sure that Carnage is gonna learn from what Cletus does.” Eddie bit his lip nervously, grinding his teeth a little bit in panic. “I know most of you don’t have children, so you might not understand, but we want to try and stop Cletus before he influences Carnage too much. We’re trying to teach Carnage to love the earth, to want to help humans just like we do, to protect the good and harm the bad. If Carnage is bonded to Cletus for too long, any lesson we taught them will go straight down the drain. We need you guys to head out here as soon as possible. Please. It’s an emergency.”

 

Tony cocked his head up and glimpsed at Eddie and Venom, at the panicked, anxious looks in their eyes. Tony sighed and hung his head. “Alright. I’ll arrange for a jet to fly out tonight, and we’ll be able to land in San Francisco by 8pm your time. Just keep watch out for more news stories in the meantime, alright?”

 

“We will, we promise.” Eddie replied, nodding with fervor. Their eyes lit up, and Venom even lifted off Eddie’s shoulder a little, glancing at Tony with a shocked expression. “We’ll call you if anything, anything at all happens. Swear to god.”

 

“You better, Brock.” Tony joked, speaking in a light-hearted manner to try and cheer the obviously panicked Eddie up. Eddie’s lips curved up just slightly and he huffed, letting his eyes dart to the side before he glimpsed back at the Avengers.

 

“We will.”

 

With a click, Eddie ended the call, and left the Avengers in momentary silence.

 

“Are we really gonna go to San Francisco again to help Brock out?” Sam asked suddenly, tearing through the silence as he cocked his head.

 

“You heard the man. And alien.” Natasha muttered, standing up and crossing her arms. “People are gonna die. And if this Cletus Kasady guy is as bad as the stories say, I’m sure he’ll drop at least a dozen bodies in two weeks. But with a symbiote bonded to him? That number’s gonna triple.” She ran a hand through her hair and sighed somewhat exasperatedly, before glancing directly at Tony. “Aren’t you gonna call your jet?”

 

Tony sighed and glanced up at the ceiling. “JARVIS,” Tony began, “Schedule a large private jet for all of the Avengers and I to leave at 4:45 pm.”

 

“On it, sir.” Came JARVIS’s voice, and Tony lowered his head glanced back at Natasha, who shrugged.

 

“So,” Tony remarked, glancing at everyone in the room in turn, “Start packing. We’re gonna go back to California.”

~~~~~

Where are we headed?Carnage questioned tersely as Cletus made his way through a heavily wooded area on the outskirts of San Francisco. Cletus took a moment to respond.

 

“I’m thinking.” Cletus replied, eyeing the edges of the city through the dense trees. “I’m gonna need a place to hide, somewhere I can kill without attracting a lot of attention. I mean, I do love attention, I love attention a lot, but until I can be sure that I can get my revenge, I’m gonna take it cautiously.” Cletus paused, an idea forming in his head, and suddenly, a wicked grin spread across his face. “Ooh, I have the best idea!”

 

Carnage paused momentarily as Cletus began running through the trees, jumping over rocks and leaping over bushes in his exhilarated sprint. Carnage thought it odd and yet intriguing at the same time, that this man ran with such fervor at a chance to kill people. It was a stark difference to Carnage’s parents, Eddie and Venom. Eddie and Venom only wanted to kill when it was necessary. This man, Cletus, he wanted to kill simply for fun, for the thrill of it. He didn’t seem to care about order, but rather destruction for destruction’s sake. It was the exact same philosophy Carnage had, except Cletus’s was a little more violent that Carnage’s. Nevertheless, it sparked a kind of burning curiosity in Carnage, like a flame that couldn’t be extinguished.

 

Cletus continued to run, even after they fell multiple times in their vain attempt to run as fast as they possibly could. Each and every scratch they got, however, was healed faster than Cletus could hiss in pain. The first time Carnage healed one of Cletus’s scratches, he had stopped running momentarily to just marvel at the fact that Carnage could heal any injuries Cletus received.

 

“Ooh ooh ohh, you’re gonna be very helpful.” Cletus muttered, and he began running yet again, more fiercely this time. He figured that if he got himself hurt again, Carnage would heal him. And he was right. Carnage continued healing each and every one of Cletus’s scratches. Each and every time Cletus fell down, his body was ripped up off the ground, his small injuries healed, and so he’d just continue running.

 

Cletus reached the edge of the wooded area within minutes, and soon, he was looking out onto the entire city of San Francisco. Realizing he’d need clothing to blend in, Cletus slinked towards an empty house nearby and shattered the windows. After climbing into the empty house, he shifted through the clothing and soon found a shirt, jeans and a baseball cap that fit him. He tossed his old clothing aside and changed into the new, stolen clothing, then grabbed a pair of sunglasses as well. He glimpsed briefly at his discarded outfit, shrugged, and climbed back outside through the shattered window. He sighed, inhaling the San Francisco air deeply.

 

“You know what I just love about May?” Cletus asked as he stepped back onto the cool grass. “Plenty of people start taking vacations in May, since summer is around the corner. So, no one’s gonna notice if a family stops coming out of their apartment, hm?”

 

A wicked, sadistic grin spread across Cletus’s face, and he lifted his head to glance at the city in front of him. He stepped down from the outskirts of the house and walked calmly towards the bustling city. Cletus soon merged into the crowd of people walking the streets, walking among them like a perfectly normal person.

 

Cletus had studied the many guards who walked past his cell every day that he was in that prison. He had studied the reporter that had come to interview him a few months prior. He had studied people that society deemed normal, so that when he ultimately escaped, he’d have the advantage of blending into a crowd. And it worked. He walked briskly past many people, past men and women and children, never once raising anyone’s suspicion. He grinned internally at the fact that he had essentially tricked every single person who walked past him. Him, the serial killer whom the police had dubbed unintelligent. He’d show all of them, eventually. He’d show each and every one of them.

 

It took a few minutes to finally reach the part of the city where the apartments laid clustered together, but Cletus was patient. He reached the nearest cluster of apartments in under ten minutes. He began to eye different apartments, watching to see the clues that a family lived in them. His eyes flitted over multiple apartments, some with people walking in and out of them, and others with people standing outside of them, talking. He soon spotted a bustling apartment with a string of clothes hung outside; sure fire signs that a family lived there. He grinned and walked up the stairs leading to the apartment, passing by many different people who were all talking. Once he reached the apartment, he cleared his throat to catch Carnage’s attention. “Now, the second I get inside, knock them all out.” Cletus whispered to Carnage, who sent a murmur of assent through their bond. Cletus smiled and held his hand out, rapping it loudly against the door.

 

A hurried “Coming!” was shouted in reply, the voice clearly belonging to a woman. Cletus just stood back onto his heels and waited. Soon, the door was swung open, revealing a middle-aged looking woman with long dark hair. She paused, glancing at Cletus, and she stood a little straighter. However, to Cletus, it was quite obvious that the woman did not recognize him. She then tilted her head to the side a little and traced her lips with her tongue. “Yes?”

 

“I’m terribly sorry to disturb you,” Cletus spoke in a fake accent, using his best pleading eyes on the woman, “But I desperately need a drink and I don’t have any money on me to buy one. Would you be kind enough to lend me a glass of water?”

 

The woman’s eyes darted up and down, taking in Cletus’s disheveled appearance. He did look like the type of person who wouldn’t have much money, the way he was dressed in worn clothing that seemed just a little too loose for him. There was also a bit of dirt still on his face, arms, hands and legs from when he fell in the wooded area. The woman seemed to take his entire appearance in, and then, making up her mind, she nodded a little, then held the door open a little and held her arm out to gesture to the inside of her apartment. “Just stand here.” She spoke, pointing to a spot inside the apartment that laid just two feet from the door. “I’ll fetch you a glass, and then you can be on your way.”

 

Cletus nodded and stepped into the house, taking a quick second to glance at the people in there; the woman, who had moved towards the kitchen to get a glass of water; a man who seemed to be the woman’s husband, who looked up at the sound of the door opening; and finally, two young boys, the older of the two looking to be around 22 and the younger looking to be 19, who seemed to be interested in a movie that was playing on the TV. Neither of the two boys had looked up at the door opening; perhaps they had been expecting someone, or they were just too invested in their movie.

 

After that brief moment where Cletus took everything in, he tapped lightly on his shoulder. And just as planned, Carnage threw four tendrils out, and before any of the family members could react, they were all hit harshly in the head, and they all fell to the floor unconscious. Carnage grinned and closed the door behind himself, making sure no one saw him duck into the apartment nor knock the four family members out.

 

“And would you look at that.” He drawled, cocking his head as he glanced at the four people lying unconscious on the floor. He moved towards the closet and rummaged through it for a few seconds until he found some rope. With the rope in hand, he turned back to face the unconscious family once more. “I think I just found you some food.” He then cocked his head towards the door, and an even wider grin spread across his face. “And I, a place to hide.”

~~~~~

“Welcome to sunny California!” Tony exclaimed, holding his arms out as the jet finally landed onto the runway. It had been a five and a half hour flight, cut a few minutes short by the sheer speed the jet traveled at.

 

The Avengers (and Shuri) had all packed bags for themselves, and even Loki (despite Tony and Clint’s insistence he shouldn’t come) had tagged along. Thor, Bruce and Valkyrie were the only ones who didn’t fly with the Avengers to San Francisco. Instead, Tony had called a jet for them, and the three of them had bid goodbye before taking off back to New Asgard.

 

“Welcome back, you mean.” Steve murmured, stepping out onto the concrete. He took a brief review of their surroundings, his eyes darting hastily around. “This place hasn’t changed since we were last here.”

 

“I doubt a city can really change much in only a few months,” Natasha commented, lifting her head, “unless, of course, some supervillain attacked it.”

 

Steve nodded in agreement, turning his head to glance at Natasha. “Well, I think a supervillain is about to attack it.”

 

Natasha was going to reply when suddenly, the talking came to a stop as Tony waved them over, and they all turned to see Eddie standing there, hands in his pockets, a nervous expression plastered on his face. He stepped forward a few steps and nodded at each of them. He then shook hands with all of them except Loki, (who got a half hug) Peter and Shuri, who all gained a hug as thanks for them allying themselves with him months prior.

 

“I’m glad you guys are here.” Eddie remarked with a slight nod, his voice light and wavering ever so slightly. He turned and began to walk, the Avengers (and Loki and Shuri) began to walk after him. “I do have Scott trying to track Carnage as we speak, but I figured you can never go wrong with the Avengers on your side, right?”

 

“Many things can go wrong, but continue.” Replied Tony.

 

Eddie lifted an eyebrow as he peered at Tony, but he once again turned to face forward, away from the faces of the others. It was then that Venom formed out of Eddie’s shoulder, startling a few of the Avengers. “Which of you are good at tracking?”

 

The hands of Tony, Natasha and Clint shot up. Eddie turned his head briefly to look at who had raised their hands, and he seemed pleasantly surprised.

 

“Alright, good. I haven't heard any news about Cletus yet, so either he's good at covering his tracks, or he's hiding somewhere. Either way, we’ll need to track him, find him, and hunt him down.”

 

“That's why we're here.” Tony remarked with a grin.

 

The group walked for a few more minutes, talking and talking, until they finally reached Tony’s private parking lot that was situated by the runway. There were parked a total of four cars, enough to take the entire group to Tony’s estate. Tony climbed into the first along with Strange, Peter, Shuri and Loki. Clint decided to drive the second car, one that he, Natasha, Wanda and Vision got in. The third was driven by Sam, with Steve, Bucky, Eddie and Venom in it.

 

The cars got to Tony’s estate in minutes, given that the traffic that day was relatively light, and they all drove into the basement and parked in the designated parking spots. Once everyone got out, Tony led them all upstairs and onto the main floor of the estate. They all were lead into one large room, one he referred to as the tech room.

 

“Now, as you can see,” Tony began, gesturing to all the tech in the room, “this is the best room to track people in.” He walked to the main table, one that had a computer installed into the frame, and he began typing rapidly on it. “Alright, I’m putting out a state-wide scan for Cletus’s face. If any camera whatsoever in the state caught his face, it’ll tell us within two hours.”

 

“Impressive.” Eddie murmured, glancing at the computer that was scanning through state cameras faster than he could blink. He tried to keep up with the computer but soon failed, so he instead turned to Tony. “What should we do in the meantime, while we wait for that?”

 

Tony paused, rubbing at his mouth a little to think, but ultimately, it was Peter who stepped up. “We need to know who we’re fighting against, right?”

 

When everyone nodded, Peter turned to glimpse at the TV. “Well then, let's watch any documentaries we can find about Cletus Kasady. And Mr. Brock can tell us all about Carnage, too. Then, we can figure out some stuff about both of them. Maybe it can help us fight them.”

 

“That's… actually a pretty good plan.” Natasha remarked. Peter beamed with pride, and Shuri immediately began looking up documentaries on Cletus Kasady on a nearby computer that was hooked up to a TV.

 

After a few seconds of typing, Shuri found one she deemed acceptable, and dragged it onto the TV screen with a swift swipe of her fingers. “Get your popcorn.” She announced, glancing at the TV, “we’re gonna watch a documentary.”

Chapter Text

“How could you keep this from me?” Screamed Anne’s voice the second Eddie told her what had happened. Eddie flinched at the volume of her voice. “A kid? You had a kid? Are you kidding me? Who keeps that kind of thing a secret?!?”

 

“I wasn't hiding it from you!” Eddie cried back, grasping at his hoodie nervously. “I just never found the time to call you. I’ve been busy, Anne, and I know you have been too.”

 

Anne groaned in utter frustration, rubbing at her glabella. “Still, no matter how busy you and I both are, this is not the type of thing to brush off and never mention! You gotta tell me when these things happen, Eddie! It's crucial! Having a child is a pretty important thing!”

 

“I will, I will, I promise.” Eddie pleaded. “You can beat the living shit out of me later for not telling you, but right now, I need your help to find Carnage. Please.”

 

Anne let out a long, frustrated sigh, but she nodded anyways. “Alright. Dan and I will be there in two hours. Just, don't do anything else stupid before I arrive, or I really will kick your ass.”

 

Eddie smiled. “We won't.” The phone then clicked as Anne hung up, and Eddie began to dial another number. When a click sounded to announce that the person on the other line had picked up, Eddie sighed in relief. “Hey Wade. We need your help.”

~~~~~

The family was too petrified to scream. That, or it was the fact that Cletus had torn off bits of clothing and used it to gag each of the four family members, thus muffling any sounds they tried to make. They still did try to scream, though.

 

The woman had been the first to wake up after Cletus had knocked the family out and tied them up. When she saw Cletus sitting nearby, crouched with a knife in his hands, she was wracked with fear and began to sob. Her sobbing soon woke her husband, who quickly spotted Cletus, and upon seeing the knife in his hands, began to shake in fear so much that he woke both of his sons. Soon, the entire family was either sobbing or trembling in fear at the sight of Cletus, which he found amusing. He hadn’t even done anything to them yet. If they were this terrified just by the sight of him, imagine what they’d be like when he caused some actual harm to them.

 

He was quiet for a few moments, marveling in the sound of the family’s whimpering and crying. He quickly got bored of it, though. “You know what I’ve discovered through my many years of life?” He began, sitting a foot from the woman’s face before standing up and twirling the knife. The woman looked at him with terrified eyes, too afraid to even shake nor tilt her head. “Victims are way, way too predictable. It’s always ‘ahh help me’, ‘let me go’ or ‘please don't hurt me’. None of them ever fight back! It's boring, really. I could do with a small fight before killing.”

 

With those words, the woman’s eyes widened, her face whitened and her body was wracked by another sob, muffled by the gag that had been stuffed in her mouth. Her youngest son trembled fiercely, tears glistening his eyes as he buried his head into his older brother’s chest. Her husband squeezed his eyes shut, trying to stop another tear from falling down his face as he stayed rooted to the spot he was in.

 

“Oh, don't cry.” Cletus spoke with a grin, his blue eyes wide and glowing with amusement. He was still crouched low to the ground, now more face to face with the woman. He held out a hand, briefly twirling a strand of the woman’s dark hair. She froze, her entire body stiffening as though she was afraid a single movement would set him off. “If you behave, I’ll make sure your death is quick and painless. You make a lot of noise, though, and I’ll make sure your death is slow and painful.”

 

He then took the knife and trailed it agonizingly slow over the woman’s arm, caressing over the bare skin, before suddenly pressing it against her skin hard enough to draw blood. As the knife dug into her arm, she screamed, the sound muffled by the gag and thus coming out as more of a loud whimper. Cletus clicked his tongue in distaste, shaking his head.

 

“What did I say about noises?” He hissed, digging the knife into her arm again, deeper this time. This time, the woman didn't scream, but she tensed up so much, it was as if every nerve in her body had been lit by a live wire. She clenched her teeth, her eyes rolling up into her head. Whimpers escaped through the gag, soft and not very easily heard, and she shut her eyes to try and ignore the pain. Cletus soon drew the knife away, and her whole body slightly relaxed when the knife left her skin.

 

A long cut laid on her right arm from the knife, and blood trickled uncomfortably down her arm. She squirmed a little in discomfort, having just stopped crying. Her eyes, albeit, were still wet and glistening with tears, and her cheeks were streaked with tears. She moved her hands as much as she could and pressed one hand against the wound, trying to stem the bleeding. She then moved just a slight bit, moving closer to her husband, who sat completely still, fear glowing in his eyes. Both of her sons had squeezed their eyes firmly shut, trying to shut out the whimpers so their fear would hopefully lessen. The younger brother had clenched on tightly to his brother’s shirt with his right hand, gripping so tightly that his knuckles ha turned white.

 

Cletus stood, suddenly a bit disinterested, and walked into the kitchen, leaving the family tied up in a small, isolated bedroom. The family watched him with terrified eyes as he left the room, all of them too afraid to move or try and escape.

 

As Cletus walked into the messy kitchen, he glanced at the plates laying about and huffed. He hadn’t noticed before, but the family was messy, way too messy for Cletus’s liking. However, his reason for going into the kitchen wasn’t to judge how often they washed their plates.

 

“So, I have a question.” He spoke suddenly, catching the attention of Carnage, who had been relatively quiet for the past few hours. “Can I kill all four of them today or do you have some use for them?”

 

You may torture them if you truly wish. But do not kill them. When I get hungry, I’ll bite off their heads.

 

“Decapitation? You’ll decapitate them?” Cletus asked, and Carnage sent a murmur of assent through their bond. Cletus bit his lip in thought. “Hm. Not really my style, but alright.”

 

Cletus made his way back into the room, eliciting a whimper from the woman the moment he stepped back into the room, a whimper muffled enough by her gag that Cletus didn't hear it. He bent down and kneeled to face the woman. He held out the knife and placed it gingerly against her cheek, relishing in the fear that was glowing in her eyes. As he pressed the knife into her cheek, drawing blood, her whole body tensed up and she let out a soft whimper, barely audible enough to hear. Tears began to fall down her cheek, mixing with the blood as they fell. The salty, bloody tears fell to the ground, streaming from the woman’s eyes and down her cheeks as Cletus drew the knife away. The woman seemed momentarily relieved at the absence of the knife.

 

And then, without warning, Cletus slashed a gash into the woman’s leg, eliciting a scream, muffled heavily by the gag in her mouth. Tears streamed freely down her face as she squeezed her eyes shut in pain. She gasped in pain and tried to move her blood stained hand to the wound, to try and stem the bleeding. Her husband trembled, his large brown eyes welling with fear as his body language practically begged Cletus to stop. But Cletus didn’t. It had been years since he had been outside, years since he had seen anyone’s blood but his own. Years since he had hurt somebody, years since he had killed somebody. He wanted to enjoy this. He wanted to savor every second of this murder, this slaughter. He had been waiting for this for so long, longer than he could ever express.

 

The woman now had a long cut on her arm, a cut on her cheek and a gash on her right leg, all of which were painful and oozing with blood. She was once again sobbing, tears streaming down her face and mixing with the blood that was still oozing from her wound. Both of her hands, though still close to her body and unable to move much due to the rope, had been pressed against a separate wound to stem the bleeding as much as she could.

 

Her sons were crying, huddled together as the younger son kept his face buried in his older brother’s chest, and the older brother kept his eyes shut. The woman’s hazel eyes were wet and pleading, gazing at Cletus with terror plastered across her face. Cletus chuckled at how afraid the family was, how afraid they were of him. He reveled in their fear and panic. And as he was reveling in their fear and their panic, a jolt of hunger flooded through him, and Carnage grinned wildly, eliciting a whimper from the woman as she caught his wicked grin.

 

“Well, this has been very fun and all,” Cletus spoke, drawing the woman’s head up, catching her attention, “but I regret to inform you that my buddy is hungry, and I can’t deny them their food any longer. So, who’s up first?”

 

The woman was so shocked that she didn’t even cry, and any tears falling down her face seemed to trickle down even slower. However, her husband’s body was wracked with a sob, and Cletus, grinning, immediately grabbed him, pulling him up and off the ground. The man’s body shook and trembled with pure fear, his face whitening as Cletus held him up by the ropes that were tied tightly around his body.

 

“Looks like we have a volunteer!” He exclaimed in jest, and tears once again flowed freely down the woman’s face as she tried to scream in protest. Cletus clicked his tongue at her, narrowing his eyes menacingly. “I thought I said no noises! Are you volunteering yourself to die before your husband? Because he will die either way.” The woman continued to sob, shaking her head wildly, and Cletus just shook his head in disdain. “Alright, Carnage,” his voice was low as he lifted his head, “have at ‘im.”

 

Carnage took the remark as a command and crawled over Cletus’s body in seconds, earning a wild sob from the woman as she saw the symbiote stand at their full height in the tiny room. Cletus’s eyes widened at the feeling of Carnage taking over his body; so far, the symbiote had simply helped him out, they had never crawled over Cletus’s skin. It was a strange feeling, not being in control of his own body, but Cletus found it entertaining.

 

The man was about to cry, just like his wife, but he didn’t even get a chance; Carnage’s jaws were around his neck before a single tear could fall from his eyes. A sickening crunch echoed through the room, causing the woman to scream against her gag. Blood poured down the man’s body and down Carnage’s skin, and they soaked up every little bit of blood that poured down their skin. They savored the taste of the blood, the brain, the bones. Everything in the man’s head was delicious, much more delicious than the heads Venom and Eddie had gotten for them. They had gotten this head all on their own.

 

As soon as the head had been bitten clean off, Carnage tossed the body onto a bed in the room near the two sons, causing them to both start crying profusely at the sound of their father’s body hitting the mattress. They still had their eyes closed, but they had heard their father die.

 

Carnage, satisfied with their meal, sank back into Cletus’s skin, giving him back control. Once Cletus got back control, he glanced down at the woman and her two sons, all of whom were crying hysterically. The woman was crying particularly hard, her body trembling fiercely. Cletus clenched his teeth menacingly and crouched down low, holding the knife to the woman’s neck as more small whimpers flowed past her gag.

 

“What did I say about making noises, hm?”

 

~~~~~

 

The plane roared as it descended onto the runway, rattling ever so slightly. As the roar softened, the plane’s wheels collided with the runway and the plane began to slow down. After a few moments, the wheels were completely attached to the concrete, and the plane rumbled to a hesitant stop.

 

Eddie stood by the window, watching as some planes flew into the air and as others landed. He didn't really like airports, but Wade had insisted on flying in by airport. And so, here Eddie was, waiting for Wade’s plane to arrive. Eddie had driven to the airport and arrived ten minutes before Wade’s plane was scheduled to land.

 

Tony had been the one to get Wade a ticket so quickly; he had finagled with the pilot and managed to snag a seat on a flight for that day, one he gave to Wade. Wade had thanked him and packed his stuff quicker than one could blink, and he was at the nearest airport in minutes.

 

Eddie’s phone buzzed with a text, pulling him out of his train of thought, and he fumbled to get it out of his pocket. He then held his phone up to his face and read the text- ‘Plane is grounded. I’ll be out soon. -W

 

A few minutes passed before the gate started filling out. Men and women and children filed out from the gate, leaping into the arms of people waiting. Chatter soon filled the gate as people reunited with loved ones, friends and family. But Eddie had yet to spot Wade. He tapped his foot a little, impatient.

 

Wade is on his way. Venom murmured softly. He’ll be here soon.

 

Venom had calmed down just a smidge, in an effort to calm Eddie down some. And so, for the past hour, Venom had been trying to coax Eddie into calming down. It was yet to really work, but that didn’t mean Venom stopped trying.

 

The next wave of people walked from the gate, and it was then that Eddie spotted Wade, dressed in a hoodie, ball cap, long sweatpants and boots, an effort to hide his skin. Wade ran towards Eddie, his carry-on clutched tightly in his hands, and engulfed Eddie in a hug, laughing. Hell, even Eddie, nervous as he was, smiled as Wade hugged him. He had missed his friend.

 

“It's been five months since I last had to drag ass out here. Congrats on the new record.” He joked, heaving his carry-on up a bit. “How are you and lover boy doing, other than worrying over your kid?”

 

“Other than that, still not as good as usual.” Eddie replied solemnly, peering nervously at Wade. A few people passed by them, some glimpsing hastily at Wade, but neither Eddie nor Wade paid much mind. Wade especially seemed used to it. “I’m glad you're here, though.”

 

“Hey, I’m glad I’m here too.” Wade remarked with a grin. “I’m good at tracking and even better at fighting, should the situation call for me to fight, that is.”

 

Eddie nodded his head in agreement as he began to walk and Wade walked beside him, holding his carry on on his shoulder. When they reached the suitcase level, Wade speedwalked to the baggage claim and waited for a few hurried moments before he spotted his suitcase. Reaching his hand out, he quickly grabbed his suitcase, which was red and black with specks of white, similar to his suit.

 

“Like my suitcase?” Wade questioned as he picked his suitcase up off the baggage carousel. Eddie simply nodded as he lifted his head up to glance towards the elevators.
Once they had collected Wade’s suitcase, they made their way to an empty elevator and walked in. Venom shot out a tendril to click on the correct floor, and the three of them waited patiently as the elevator descended.
“So, where's our chauffeur?” Wade questioned, glancing around the airport parking lot as they reached the car level.

 

“Over there.” Eddie pointed to a gray car sitting in a somewhat empty part of the parking lot. The two of them walked towards the car patiently, Wade walking a bit faster than Eddie. When they reached the car, Eddie opened the door, he revealed Anne in the front seat with Dan sitting next to her.

 

“Wade! It's been too long.” She spoke graciously as Wade packed his suitcase into the back of her car. Wade climbed into the car and hugged Anne.

 

“It has been too long! How have you been lately?”

 

“Oh, you know, the usual.” Anne murmured, grasping the wheel. “Wanting to punch Eddie since he never told me he has a kid.”

 

“To be fair, he didn't tell me either.” Wade replied, and Eddie lowered his head in shame.

 

“Well, let's just get back to the Avengers.” Anne replied, furrowing her eyebrows a little. She still hadn't forgiven them for what they did to Eddie, but she was willing to let bygones be bygones just for this one mission. As she started the car, Wade struck up a conversation with both Eddie and Dan. Anne couldn't help but smile as she pulled out of the airport parking lot.

Chapter Text

Cletus yawned in boredom that morning as he shuffled through the kitchen cabinets, grabbing a bowl to pour cereal in. Breakfast that morning was some cinnamon toast cereal with milk, Cletus decided, letting his eyes glance briefly at the calendar. Two days had passed since he broke into the apartment, two days since he had started torturing the family. By now, only the woman was left.

 

She was an empty shell, barely a reflection of what she used to be, what she had been before Cletus broke in. Her body was littered in scars and bloody wounds, her cheeks stained with bloody tears and her eyes hollow and unforgiving. Her hands were still pressed against the gash on her leg, as she was still trying to slow the bleeding. It had slowed tremendously, but it still trickled a little every now and again. Her other arm was pressed against her side, her elbows tucked tightly against her torso, making herself seem smaller. Tears glistened brightly in her hollowed eyes as she stared at the wall, taking none of it in.

 

She had watched her husband die, watched her sons die, and now she knew that she was going to die. It was a horrific fate, but she was so drained of her spirit that it seemed like she didn't even care. Rather, it was as though she had been begging to die second, before her sons. She hoped that they would somehow get a chance to escape, perhaps when Cletus went to sleep. But no, Carnage had their way and bit the heads of both boys clean off, right in front of their mother, as she sobbed wildly and tried to scream.

 

First had been the younger brother, who squirmed and sobbed, screaming against his gag for his brother. Cletus had grabbed him up with no warning, and the boy sobbed in shock and squeezed his eyes shut, knowing what was about to happen. His older brother squeezed his eyes shut, not wanting to witness what was about to happen. The woman also shielded her eyes, breaking her ropes apart just enough to be able to duck her head down without constricting her breath.

 

Once the headless body of the younger brother fell to the floor with a splat, the older brother spit out his gag and screamed loudly, the scream a feral, animalistic sound that was ripped from his throat. Carnage leapt forward and bit his head off before he could scream a second time, but the scream had caught the attention of some of the neighbors, who began knocking cautiously on the door, calling out the woman’s name. Cletus never answered, nor did he ever let the woman answer, but he knew that it was only a matter of time before the police got to him.

 

But he didn't really care, nor was he worried. Alone, he was capable of taking down a police officer or two, maybe even three if luck was on his side. With Carnage, though, he would be able to take down the entire police force, no matter whether luck was on his side or not. What were a bunch of humans armed with guns against a superpowered alien?

 

Right now, he was more concerned about when to kill the woman, and why he hadn't done it already. At first it was to silence her; Cletus thought that if he slaughtered her husband and sons as an example of what happened when you were noisy, she would quiet down immensely. Now that he had done that, she was quiet and passive, but it made him think of why he hadn't simply killed her straight away, if she was the one most annoying to him. Perhaps it was to torture her for being so annoying. He didn't know. Nevertheless, he knew time was running out and he’d have to kill her pretty soon. Why not have a little fun first?

 

“Your sons sure were noisy.” Cletus hissed in disdain, glaring at the woman. She didn't look up, her eyes still hollow and her body limp as his eyes scanned over her. “Hmph. Perhaps they got that from you, considering how much you’ve been crying and screaming.”

 

The woman made no noise in response. Her eyes were glazed over, full of sadness and yet empty at the same time. It was an expression Cletus had seen before in his most tortured victims; it was a look of complete surrender. And it was never fun to toy with a victim who had completely given up.

 

He drew his knife and trailed it softly against her neck, as she made no attempt to move. Her limbs laid limp, her fingers curled and her nails tinted with blood. She had lost a few slight pounds, as Cletus hadn't given her any food, but the weight loss was barely noticeable. Rather, it was her weak limbs and slightly sallowed skin that was the most noticeable.

 

Her stomach rumbled incessantly, and she would simply lean her head back and shut her eyes when this happened, letting a single tear fall down her cheek in utter sadness. Every moment that passed by was agonizing, but she had grown used to it now. It was a shock what just three days of torture could do to a person.

 

She still had a slight bit of light in her eyes, however; some faint hope that perhaps, she may escape. But it was faint, a glimmering light that was just waiting to be snuffed out. And man, did Cletus want to take that glimmering light and snuff it right out.

 

Cletus kneeled down a little, facing the woman eye to eye. She didn’t make any sort of eye contact, however; rather, she simply tilted her head to the side a little, letting her eyes flutter closed. Cletus twirled his knife in his hands, staring curiously at the woman. She made no effort to move, no effort to scream out for help, even though her gag was loose enough to spit out by now. Cletus could tell by now, that she was just begging to be killed. And by now, Cletus himself was willing to grant her that wish.

 

Right as Cletus held the knife to the woman’s neck, however, yet another knock came at the door, making Cletus stop dead in his tracks.

 

“Hey Heather? Are you okay in there?” Came a woman’s voice. Only silence was given, and after a few moments devoid of noise, the doorknob jiggled just the slightest bit. “Heather? May I come in?”

 

Cletus didn't respond, and the woman barely opened her eyes, obviously recognizing the voice. However, she didn’t move and stayed rooted to the floor.

 

“Heather, come out! Open the door!” The voice cried again, a tone of panic just barely hidden as the person on the other side of the door spoke. Silence was heard yet again, and the doorknob was jiggled with more force. “This isn't funny anymore! Open the door!”

 

Cletus tossed his head and stood, glaring towards the door as he watched the doorknob jiggle uselessly. Suddenly, however, a large bang was heard as the door began to get kicked in, and Cletus, realizing what the woman on the other side of the door was doing, acted immediately. Knowing he didn't have enough time to bring Carnage out, he swooped down and slashed the knife across the woman’s neck in one swift motion. She choked on her gag, and tried uselessly to clutch at her throat as she fell sideways onto the floor, blood pouring from the very shallow cut across her neck.

Cletus jumped up, taking the knife with him. He ran to a window in one room and, without thinking, jumped out, shattering the glass right as the front door was finally kicked in. The door fell right off its hinges, clattering to the floor with a loud thunk. A few police officers, including the woman who had been speaking, filed into the apartment. Two of them ran and held the woman, applying pressure to the wound on her neck. The other three ran to the room with the shattered window, but Cletus, with the speed of Carnage on his side, was already long gone.

~~~~~

“I got something!” Natasha cried suddenly, ripping through the silence of the building as she ran, computer in hand, into the conference room. All of the Avengers and their allies looked at her, a bit startled by the sudden yell. She ran into the room and put her computer down onto the table with a clatter, then began to speak. “A woman was just found tied up in her apartment and was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Her husband and two sons, however, were found dead in their apartment, and all three of them had their heads missing. Sound like Cletus and Carnage?”

 

“Heads missing sounds like Carnage.” Venom remarked, eyes narrowing. Eddie walked over to Natasha, glancing over her shoulder to stare at the report. Venom, in addition to Eddie, glanced at the report, narrowing their eyes even further. “It isn't like our species to leave a victim alive, though.”

 

“That's probably Cletus.” Eddie murmured in reply to Venom, his eyes scanning over the report. “Cletus may be bonded to Carnage but he's still a serial killer, and a serial killer who loves bloodlust at that, he’s not going to just stop killing and let Carnage do everything. He’d want to have the satisfaction of shedding some blood before killing his victims. He probably meant to kill this woman and didn't manage to in his haste to get away from the police.” He took another look at the report. “What condition did it say she was found in?”

 

Natasha narrowed her eyes and scanned thoroughly over the report as everyone else in the room watched in silence. “Here it is,” she pointed to a paragraph in the medical report, “the woman was brought in with multiple cuts and gashes on her body, but the hospital’s main focus is the cut across her neck. Looks like he tried to slit her throat and just didn't use enough force in the strike, which means he probably was just trying to get the hell out of there.” She let her eyes turn to her computer, and she read over more of the report that had been sent to her. “Ah! Found it. She's at San Francisco general. Says here she was taken there immediately after she was found, which was two hours ago. Two of us should go and head there to find out what we can about what happened to her.”

 

Tony took a second to think. “Natasha,” he began, after a few moments thought, “you can be the first person to go, since you’re the best at collecting information. And Brock, you're a journalist, you’ll see things in her actions that we won't. You can go with Natasha, as long as you promise to not do or say anything.”

 

Eddie nodded in understanding. “We won't.”

 

“Alright then.” Natasha stood and closed her computer. “Let’s go.”

~~~~~

Natasha held her hand out and opened the door to the hospital, waving her hand to signal Eddie to follow her. She held the door open and let Eddie walk past her. Once he had gotten into the building, she turned and walked into the hospital and closed the door behind her. Natasha scanned her eyes around the floor until she spotted the main desk. Taking up a quick stride, she quickly reached the main desk and waved her hand, catching the attention of the woman working at the computer in front of her. The woman looked up and tilted her head.

 

“We’re here to visit Heather Cedillo. What room is she in?”

 

The woman glanced briefly at Natasha before looking to her computer. After some quick typing, she lifted her head and glanced up at Natasha. “Room 212, in the ICU. She's not talking much though, and she's very fragile and closed off at the moment, so please keep that in mind. Don't push her too much.”

 

“We won't.” Natasha replied kindly, smiling. The woman cocked her head and pointed to the sign by the elevator. Natasha nodded and waved Eddie down, and the two walked to the elevator and walked in. Natasha clicked the button for the second floor, and held her hands together as the elevator began to lift.

 

Natasha had put on a small disguise, enough so that people wouldn't recognize her at first glance but not enough to distort her appearance. She had put on chocolate brown colored contacts and glasses, along with some natural colored eyeshadow and coral colored lips. She wore a loose-fitting gray sweater, some skinny denim jeans and heeled cream colored boots. She had also straightened her hair and tied it up into a bun, hoping that no one would recognize her with her hair done up.

 

Eddie, meanwhile, had simply brushed his hair until it laid quite neatly, and he had put on a gray loose-fitting long sleeve, jeans and some sunglasses. It wasn't much of a disguise, but he said he disliked contacts and didn't want to dress too out of his style.

 

The elevator stopped at the second floor, and Natasha and Eddie walked out onto the floor and made their way to the ICU. When they reached the door to the ICU, the woman at a nearby desk flagged them down.

 

“Who are you visiting today?” She asked, glancing up at them both with a sort of disinterest in her eyes.

 

“Heather Cedillo.” Natasha replied matter-of-factly, peering briefly at the walls on the floor. Everything was light colored, white or light gray or even a very light shade of blue.

 

The woman at the desk clicked away at the computer. Her eyes darted over the screen, and she tossed her head up. “She's available for visitors, but she just got out of surgery fifteen hours ago. She's very fragile at the moment, so I wouldn't ask too much of her. Are you friends or family?”

 

“Friends.” Natasha replied.

 

“Alright. Go on in.” The woman pointed a finger to the door. “Room 312. She's fragile and just a few hours out of surgery, so don't stay for more than thirty minutes.”

 

Natasha nodded her head and opened the door to the ICU, waving Eddie down before she walked down the hall to room 312. When she opened the door, the woman sitting in the room looked up.

 

The woman looked fragile and small under the large white blanket she was sitting under. Her skin was pale and clammy, her eyes cautious and scared. She tensed up a little when Eddie entered the room, and glanced nervously at the both of them. She was obviously still quite nervous to be around people; her arms were held tightly against her chest in an x formation, as though to protect herself, and her eyes darted around the room. When Natasha and Eddie walked closer, the woman pressed her back against the bedframe tightly and pressed her elbows into her side to make herself seem smaller. Her breath hitched and she began to whimper.

 

“We’re not here to hurt you.” Natasha spoke softly as she reached the bed, holding her hand out cautiously. “I know you're scared. May we ask you a few questions?”

 

“Are you police?” She asked, her voice wavering a bit.

 

“No, but we are people who may be able to help you get justice.” Natasha replied, holding her hands together.

 

The woman peered at both of them, her eyes watching their every move as she made her decision. She bit her lip very briefly and nodded, and Natasha moved forward and sat at the edge of her bed. Eddie stood a foot away from Natasha, staying a bit away to not scare the woman any further. The woman seemed grateful for that.

 

After a few seconds devoid of noise, the woman sensed that something was on both their minds, that they both had pressing questions. She lifted her head and began to speak, her lip trembling as she did so. “What do you want to know?”

 

“First, what did your attacker look like?” Eddie questioned, his voice soft and modulated.

 

“He, he had red hair. Very curly red hair.” The woman began, trying to speak clearly as her lips trembled. “Oh, and blue eyes. I think, I think they were a deep, sea blue. Like waves. And his clothing was dirty and worn, like he’d been wearing it a while. And it had dirt on it.” Her speaking came to a sudden stop, her lim trembling a bit more than usual.

 

“The report said, your attacker was covered in a sort of red goo at one point. Is this true?” Natasha inquired softly, making sure her tone was empathetic. She shifted just a slight bit, pressing her left hand softly on the sheet next to her, soft enough to leave a small impression in the sheets.

 

The woman shifted a little in the bed, and she nodded timidly, her eyes darting to the wall. “It was horrible. He, he’d make some sort of signal with his hands, as though he was signaling to someone. Then… then his body…” she gasped softly, running a bandaged hand through her stringy, tangled hair. She paused for a moment, her lips moving and yet no noise came out.

 

“Take your time.” Natasha murmured, gazing into the woman’s eyes for a moment. The woman batted away a tear and nodded, straightening a little as she sat.

 

“Sorry. Anyways, the goo covered his whole body. It.. it was like a completely different being, whatever covered his body. It had eyes, white eyes, and… and rows of teeth and…” she broke off and held her hand up to her mouth to stifle a sob, right as a tear fell down her bandaged cheek. “I can't. I can't talk anymore about it, I’m sorry.”

 

Natasha shook her head, wanting to hold the woman’s hand to comfort her, but at the same time sensing that’d make the woman feel worse. “You’ve talked plenty. We’re very, very sorry for disturbing you. We hope you a very speedy recovery.”

 

The woman nodded, wiping tears from her eyes. Natasha stood and waved her hand towards the woman, who held her head up slightly at the wave. Her eyes drifted a little at the wave, and then she held her own thin, bony hand up and waved stiffly at both Natasha and Eddie, though her eyes glanced only at Natasha and avoided the sight of Eddie completely. As Natasha and Eddie left the room, the woman lowered her head and let go of the blanket that she had been clutching tightly onto.

 

Once Natasha and Eddie got far enough away from the room, which they deemed to be the elevator, Natasha peered at Eddie and began to talk. “She’s definitely terrified. She was traumatized, enough that I’m pretty sure she’s somewhat afraid of men. I don’t know if the person inflicting the trauma was Cletus or your kid or both, but her behavior definitely tells us that the duo of Cletus and your kid are terrifying.”

 

Eddie bit his lip, obviously not wanting to think that his child was dangerous, but he nodded regardless. “Yeah, she must’ve gone through a lot.” His eyes flickered to the doors as the began to open, revealing the entire first floor to them. Natasha stepped out first, taking a stride towards the front door. Eddie followed in tow, his walk a bit weak and uncertain. Thoughts raced through his mind, through his and Venom’s bond. Venom was obviously as disturbed as Eddie was at the thought of Carnage willingly inflicting such trauma or allowing such trauma to be inflicted onto the woman.

 

The air outside of the hospital hit Eddie as soon as he walked outside and pulled him momentarily out of his worried thoughts. Natasha flagged him down and the two made their way to the parking lot, where Natasha had parked. She slapped her hand lightly against the car as they reached it, humming at the sheer beauty of the sleek, dark colored car that Tony had gifted her. By the time she had finished admiring the car and got into her seat, Eddie was already buckled into the seat.

 

“You ready to go talk about what we got from her?” Natasha asked, digging the key into the ignition. Eddie nodded his head absentmindedly, but Natasha didn’t take that as an answer. “Be honest. I can tell when you’re just trying to make me feel alright, or just trying to brush me off.”

 

Eddie sighed and rubbed the back of his neck softly. “I just… I never wanted this. For Carnage to be bad. This is my first child, I want to do right with them, I really tried to be right with them. But now, they’re bonded with a serial killer, and from the sounds of it, Cletus is already heavily affecting them.”

 

“It’s scary.” Venom added, poking out of Eddie’s shoulder. They paused for a moment as Natasha pulled out of the parking space, but continued again once they got out of the parking lot. “We were lucky to bond to Eddie. Eddie has a sense of right and wrong. This man, Cletus, doesn’t. Carnage will begin to think killing is always right, whether for food or fun.”

 

Natasha ran her teeth very briefly over her lip in thought, her hands gripping the steering wheel. Her attention, however, never drifted from the road as she spoke. That is definitely a scary thought. When we finally find them, we have to look at how they behave. If they are bonded for too long, they may act like you two did when we brought you in. If just Cletus wants to stay bonded, and not your kid, we’ll have more luck.” She gave Eddie a very brief glance before focusing her attention wholly to the road. “And I know this is hard to hear, but you two have to keep in mind that the possibility of something bad happening is very real and concerning. There is a big chance they’ll refuse to be separated. I want you to be ready for that in case it happens.”

 

Eddie just nodded numbly.

Chapter Text

The sound of someone yelling broke the silence in the conference room that morning. Everyone inside lifted their heads to see Wade running off, laughing, as Sam yelled and waved his fist angrily behind Wade. Shuri could also be seen in the background, crouched halfway behind a wall, stifling her laughter with one hand as she held a camera in the other. Most of the people in the conference room just shook their heads; events like these were pretty commonplace with all of them gathered together like this.

 

Everyone in the building knew Wade to some extent, many of them not knowing him very well, but there was one thing everyone knew: he loved mischief and trouble. The only person in the building who loved mischief and trouble more than him was Loki, and the two, although good friends, were often trying to one-up each other in terms of mischief and pranking. Together, however, they were a force to be reckoned with.

 

Once Sam stopped yelling and calmed down some, he said that Wade had replaced the sugar in his coffee that morning with salt. A few of them had snickered, especially Tony and Bucky. Some of them, such as Natasha and Anne, had simply shook their heads, as though to say of course Wade did that.

 

“Shame he thought of that before I did.” Bucky remarked, earning a glare from Sam. Bucky just burst into laughter, amused with the entire situation. Even Steve laughed, though he stifled his laughter rather quickly so as to not earn a glare from Sam. Luckily for Steve, Sam was so focused on Bucky that he didn’t hear the stifled laughter from Steve.

 

Sam eventually left the room, taking off to do something else rather than try and compile a plan or look through evidence on a computer.

 

The estate had been split, essentially, into three groups: those in the conference room, who were going through all the evidence they had gathered from witnesses and coming up with a plan; those in the main room, who were quietly reading up more reports of the case; and finally, those who were mainly in the recreation room and partly in the dining room, all of whom were reconciling with each other and talking energetically.

 

In the conference room was Tony, Strange, Steve, Bucky, Natasha, Clint, Anne and Eddie, all of whom were extremely invested in the evidence and forming a plan.

 

In the main room was Sam, Dan and Vision, all of whom were just looking up more information on Cletus.

 

In the recreation room was Loki, Peter, Shuri and Wade, while Scott and Wanda raided the dining room and one of the two kitchens for food, all the while talking with the others.

 

The energy in the two rooms was high and happy; it had been a long time since all of them had seen each other (excluding Peter and Wanda, who saw each other very often), and they all wanted to catch up. Wade and Shuri had been laughing over the footage Shuri had captured of Wade pranking Sam. The others had been laughing over it too, especially Loki; the prank had been half his idea.

 

Loki had changed up his, or really, her appearance that day; Loki had walked into the main room that morning in her female body, draped in a comfortable sleep rope. Her hair, while messy from sleep, had been tied up neatly into a long ponytail, and her face was tired yet fresh. After a little bit of freshening up, she strode out into the main room with her hair brushed neatly and placed on her shoulders. She was dressed in a long olive green coat atop a green and black dress, topped with knee high black boots and a beautiful golden necklace. She had also put on a bit of makeup that day; perfectly done pitch black eyeliner, black and yellow eyeshadow and solid black lipstick. All in all, she looked, as Peter and Shuri both said, ready to slay.

 

The group in the recreation room was the most energetic that morning. After a long and surprisingly refreshing sleep that prior night, the two of them had woken up, all on their own, at around 9 that morning and had almost instantly began talking to each other.

 

Wade woke up right after them, ripped from his slumber by the chatter of voices. The room Wade was sleeping in was right next to the room Peter, Shuri and Wanda all shared, and since the walls were somewhat thin, the noise woke him up pretty quickly. After waking up, he quickly joined the two teens in their conversation.

 

Wanda woke up next, stirred from sleep by the sound of talking. She yawned loudly and stretched as she stood up, catching the attention of Peter, who ran to hug his sister-figure as she got out of her bed. She smiled sleepily and hugged Peter tightly. “Good morning Petey.” She spoke, ruffling Peter’s hair. “Do you guys have breakfast yet?”

 

“Not yet.” Peter admitted, glancing towards the other two in the hallway, “But we’re planning to pretty soon. Can you help us? I’m not the best with cooking.”

 

Wanda laughed. “I’m not the absolute best either, but yeah, I’ll help.”

 

The four of them began to prepare breakfast that morning, and they were soon joined by Scott, who ended up being a better cook than any of them had been expecting. He said that his two years of house arrest had given him plenty of time to perfect his hobbies, and one of his hobbies ended up being cooking.

 

The breakfast Scott fixed for them was buttermilk waffles, bacon and eggs. Eddie, Venom and Loki soon joined them, and all seven of them sat down at the table in the dining room. Most of the others had already eaten, excluding Steve and Bucky, who were a little late waking up that morning.

 

Nevertheless, the dining room was empty, and so all eight of them began to eat and talk happily. Not a single worry of Carnage and Cletus popped up during their meal, and as soon as it was over, they all went back to the recreation room. Over the next hour, they’d all slowly trickle into the conference room.

~~~~~

Noon rolled around rather quickly that day. Peter and Shuri had gone out with Loki and Scott to get some food right when the clock struck noon. The others were left at the estate to continue planning their strategy on how to take down Cletus and Carnage.

 

The main planning group had been working diligently all day to try and come up with a usable plan to track down and capture Carnage. Eddie had suggested capturing Carnage the same way they had captured him months before, stating that if it worked on him and Venom it would probably work on Cletus and Carnage.

 

The question now was, how to track Cletus down. They had been tapping into any and every security camera they could that was in the city, searching diligently for any sign of Cletus. All in all, each and every person in the building was very soon invested in trying to track Cletus and Carnage, and yet none of them had had much luck.

 

A knock at the front door at 1:15 pm stirred all of them out of their daze. Everyone looked around at one another, silently questioning who should answer the door. No one stood up at first, but it was eventually Tony who stood to answer the door.

 

He walked over to the front door tentatively, peering an eye through the peep-hole. A bit confused, he stood back and opened the door. On the doormat stood a woman, a woman who looked to be in her 30’s at least, possibly her late 30’s, with long dark hair tied into a ponytail and stern light-colored green-hazel eyes. She nodded curtly at Tony, and he held the door open to let her in.

 

“I don't suppose Scott Lang is here?” She questioned, glancing around the main room of the estate. She snapped her head back to Tony, who still had a slightly confused expression.

 

“And you are?” He asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

“Hope Van Dyne. Scott’s girlfriend, whom he conveniently left out of this mission.” She folded her arms and held up her head. “Scott! It's Hope!” She yelled.

 

A brief moment of silence followed. Then, suddenly, the scrambling of footsteps was heard, and Scott came barreling out of the conference room and into Hope’s arms.

 

“Hope! I thought you were in London with your parents.” Scott exclaimed, a little breathlessly. He glanced at her, an expression of love mixed with relief shining in his eyes.

 

Hope smiled at him and just shook her head. “No. We actually never even left for London. Ava couldn't come with us, and she's still undergoing her treatment. We couldn't leave her behind.”

 

Scott nodded. “Ah. Well, you can maybe help us with this, then! Come here, I want you to meet Eddie and the others.”

 

Hope nodded and followed Scott into the conference room, where everyone stood, looks of slight confusion on their faces. Steve was the first to speak, with a simple, “Scott, who’s this?”

 

“This is my girlfriend, Hope. She's also my partner, hero-wise.” Scott explained, and Hope nodded curtly. She stuck her hand out to shake each person’s hand.

 

“Hope Van Dyne. It's nice to meet all of you. Scott's told me a bit about you.”

 

She turned and saw Sam, and her face split into a very brief expression of shock. “I know you. I was there, watching, when you got into that quarrel with Scott.”

 

“You were watching?” Sam asked, and Hope nodded. “Great. How many other people saw that, then, if not just you?”

 

“My dad saw it too. But it was just the two of us.” She cocked her head a little and held her hand out to Eddie, who shook it.

 

“Oh, Hope,” Scott began, “This is my good friend Eddie Brock. He’s the one we’re helping.”

 

Hope turned her head and glanced very briefly at Eddie. Her eyes seemed to trail over his clothing for a brief moment before she turned back to Scott. After whispering something into his ear, she turned and once again faced Eddie.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Brock. I’ve heard a bit about you.”

 

“You have? From Scott or from the news?”

 

Hope shrugged her shoulders. “Eh, a little of both, but more Scott.” She smiled at him. “The news isn't always the most reliable, so I try to only trust what someone I know says.” She folded her hands and brushed a strand of her hair back. “Is there any way I can help out?”

 

“Are you good at tracking?” Spoke Natasha suddenly from behind the two. Hope cocked her head.

 

“I would say that I am, yeah.”

 

“What strengths do you have?” Tony asked.

 

“Strengths like character traits, skills or my powers?” Tony just nodded, and Hope bit her lip. “Well, for skills, I’m good with technology and formulas. I'm pretty good at quantum anything, whether it's quantum physics or quantum theory. As for my powers, I can, like Scott, shrink and grow to immense sizes. Unlike him though, I have blasters and I can fly.” She shot Scott a brief, sideways glance. “Also unlike him, I can make relatively good decisions.”

 

“Hey!” Scott cried, and Hope burst into laughter.

 

“As long as you’re willing to help us, then you can help us.” Tony murmured, holding his hand out to shake hers.

 

“What is it that you guys need help with?” She questioned, shaking Tony’s hand.

 

“We’re tracking down two people.” Eddie explained, as Hope glanced towards him. “First is a serial killer by the name of Cletus Kasady. Second is a symbiote by the name of Carnage, who also happens to be my kid.”

 

“Crazy kid you got there.” Hope murmured in reply, not all too disturbed by Eddie’s statement.

 

“Yeah well, when is anything in any of our lives ever not crazy?”

 

Hope bit her lip. “Hm. Touche.”

~~~~~

A whisper of news about Cletus and Carnage’s potential whereabouts reached Eddie's ears that day at around 5 in the afternoon, well near the time of sunset. The sky was beginning to be tinted with the beginnings of yellow and orange, a clear sign the sun would be setting in just over an hour. It wasn't the best time to receive news, but Eddie was taking anything.

 

The news came from Mrs. Chen, Eddie’s close friend and ally who had a surprisingly large group of relatives and friends in San Francisco to keep an eye out for anything. She had heard that Eddie was looking for something, so she kept an ear on her line of info until someone said something.

 

And sure enough, right at 5 that evening, she heard from a cousin of hers that someone had spotted a man looking like Cletus, stalking a group of apartments on the opposite side of San Francisco. She had quickly called Eddie, informing him that someone had spotted a man that looked like Cletus. It was very much a half-baked spotting, and not a very reliable one at that, but Eddie couldn't pass up the opportunity, even if it was a bust.

 

Without telling anyone where he was going, he grabbed his phone and helmet and took off onto his motorcycle, speeding out onto the road. He had slipped out of the estate so quietly that no one noticed he was gone for a few minutes.

 

The cool evening air calmed Eddie down just slightly, calming his spun-up, out-of-control nerves. His heart was racing, calmed only by Venom’s relentless efforts to keep Eddie calm while they ran to possibly find their child. They hadn't even said anything to anyone, which Venom quickly realized was a stupid move. What was the point in having backup if you never called for it?

 

Venom sent a quick thought through their bond, letting Eddie know what they were about to do. Eddie gave a slight nod, the best he could give while driving. Once they got Eddie’s approval, Venom formed a little out of Eddie’s back, grabbed his phone and dialed a number.

 

“Wade.” Venom spoke the second Wade picked up his phone. “Please don't tell anyone, but we heard of a potential spotting of Cletus. We’ll need your help.”

 

Wade sighed a little. “Those Avengers are gonna kill you for taking off without telling them. I’ve got to tell them.”

 

“Tell them it's just a potential spotting. We don't need the entire team with us unless we know it's them.”

 

Wade nodded in agreement. “Alright. I’ll take Loki with me as well. God knows that trickster has more than enough skills to help us. I’ll track your phone, too. We should reach your destination less than two minutes after you, so wait for us. And keep your phone’s location on.”

 

“Will do.”

 

“You better.”

 

A click sounded as Wade hung up his phone. Venom, satisfied with the call, hastily stuffed Eddie’s phone back into his pocket and sank back into Eddie’s skin without another word.

 

The remaining drive to the apartment complex wasn't that long, but it felt like forever to Eddie and Venom. Trees flew past, people whirred past so fast they looked like blurs. Before either Eddie nor Venom knew it, they were traveling twice as fast as the pace of traffic, but neither of them cared. Venom had covered both of Eddie’s arms and began to guide Eddie through the trail of cars, whizzing past each car before any of them got the chance to even blow their horn at Eddie. Not that Eddie truly cared, but Venom, at least, was grateful that not a single car horn was blared. They weren't particularly fond of the noise.

 

Eddie soon came up on the apartment complex, and he parked his motorcycle on the very edge of the apartment, where Carnage wouldn't have the chance to hear the familiar rumble of the engine.

 

Taking a cautious step, Eddie began to walk forward, keeping a keen eye out for Cletus. He passed by men and women and children, yet none of them looked even remotely similar to Cletus. Eddie was beginning to wonder how valid the tip was when suddenly, he began to turn a corner and saw a flash of red.

 

Sure enough, standing on the empty side of one of the apartments, was none other than the infamous Cletus Kasady. He cocked his head and turned as he heard footsteps, but Eddie hid himself almost immediately.

 

“Is anyone there?” Cletus trilled, taking a few steps forward. After a deep, calming breath, Eddie finally stepped out from behind the corner. Cletus seemed to unknowingly tense up at the sight of Eddie.

 

“You.” Eddie murmured, just loud enough for Cletus to hear. “You took my child.”

 

Cletus tilted his head, a hint of confusion spreading across his face.
“What child?” He asked.

 

”Carnage.” Spoke Venom, forming without any warning from Eddie’s shoulder, their silky white eyes narrowing at Cletus. Cletus took a moment to process, and then he laughed.

 

“This alien or whatever that's bonded to me, that's your kid?” He looked at Eddie almost judgingly. “Wait. I recognize you. You're that reporter from October! You have an alien too?”

 

“We want our child back.”

 

Cletus laughed, a little of Carnage’s semblance seeping into their voice. “Ha, not a chance.” Before Eddie and Venom could even blink, Carnage had completely covered Cletus’s body. “I like having a host. I’m learning things. I’m free.”

 

“Carnage, please.” Eddie begged, his eyes widening. “Don't do this.”

 

Carnage just shook their head in rebellion, and took a step forward, making their way to attack Eddie and Venom. Before they could lunge at Eddie and Venom, however, Loki appeared out of nowhere and knocked Carnage down.

“Leave them alone!” She yelled with ferocity, unsheathing two long swords from her coat. Her green eyes narrowed and she clenched her teeth, glaring at Carnage with the fierceness of a roaring flame. Wade, dressed head to toe in his Deadpool suit, appeared from behind her, holding a katana in hand, glaring at Carnage with equal ferocity.

 

“If I were you, I’d back the fuck up.” Wade hissed, gripping his katana tightly. He took a step forward, glaring at Carnage.

 

Carnage ignored him and attempted to leap forward in the direction that Eddie was standing. Wade made his move, and he too leapt forward, plunging a sword into Carnage’s chest before Carnage could block him.

 

Carnage let out a roar, not at all human but feral and purely animalistic, one so startling it made Eddie fall back. They grabbed the sword, ripped it out of their chest and lunged their claws at Wade.

 

Wade ducked and dug another katana into Carnage’s skin, and another roar tore from Carnage’s throat. They swung their claws forward and launched a tendril at Wade, wrapping around his torso tightly. They managed to rip into Wade’s chest, tearing through his ribcage before Loki used her magic to throw Carnage across the grass.

 

Wade crumpled to the ground for a brief moment, clutching at his bloody chest. “I’ll stay right here for a second.” He murmured, taking a moment to peer at Eddie, who had a shocked expression etched into every inch of his face. Eddie stood on wobbly, unstable legs just a few feet from Wade, his hands nervously combing over one another as he pondered what to do.

 

Carnage huffed, tossing their head back as they stood, glaring at Loki, who twirled her swords and smirked.

 

“That didn't affect you too much, huh? Perhaps something more oldstyle?” She jeered, almost to herself rather than to Carnage. Carnage hissed and bared their teeth, letting out a feral growl, but Loki just smirked even more, her eyes gleaming. “Are you perhaps trying to frighten me, hm? Is that it?” She shook her head and laughed. “You're gonna have to do way more than that to scare me.”

 

And then, without warning, five Lokis broke apart from the original, and all five of them charged towards Carnage. Each held a sharpened dagger, and each plunged every dagger into Carnage’s skin.

 

They let out another feral, animalistic roar, one that terrified any person within 100 feet. Carnage swatted fiercely at the fake Lokis with their claws, swatting each one until only the original was left, her teeth bared as she swung both of the swords in her hands.

 

She let out a scream, a scream very similar to an Asgardian war cry, as she then charged forward to try and plunge the swords into Carnage’s chest. Carnage roared and blocked the attack, and Loki crumpled to the ground. Not at all deterred, however, she stood back up and spit a bit of blood onto the grass, the flame in her eyes still roaring with unparalleled ferocity.

 

Sensing that Loki would not stop, Carnage promptly bolted, sinking back into Cletus’s skin to let him run. Wade, not at all perturbed nor slowed down by the gaping wounds in his chest, threw his gun up, aimed, and shot a bullet clean through Cletus’s shoulder. Cletus let out a feral yell and ducked, avoiding the next bullet that raced from Wade’s gun.

 

Before Wade could get another shot out, Cletus vanished. Loki huffed, blowing a strand of her hair out of her eyes. Wade turned to face Eddie, who stood somewhat paralyzed. He whispered Carnage’s name, a melancholy look gleaming in his eyes.

 

Without another word, Eddie then sank to the grass and began to cry.

Chapter Text

“Guys, we got another one.” Cried Natasha, early one morning. She held a computer in her hands, and a somber look was etched onto her face, a sign that another family had been slaughtered. The others were immediately torn from their research as she walked into the conference room.

 

She set her computer down onto the table, opened it and began to type.

 

“Elderly couple, Don and Victoria Vaughn.” She began, her eyes scanning feverently over the article, “Both found headless in their house. Their neighbor, a teen named Emma Chassain, found them at 7 this morning when she went to go discuss when she'd dogsit for them. Their dog was missing, though he was found a few hours before his owners, running around without his collar. Neighbors report seeing a red haired man walking through the neighborhood the day before. Some neighbors said it looked like he was stalking houses.”

 

She glanced up at each of their shocked expressions. Tony had his head hung low, and Clint was gritting his teeth. Bucky was rubbing his glabella, sighs streaming from his mouth.

 

Steve was in the corner, shaking his head solemnly. “An elderly couple. What kind of monster fights a person who can't fight back?”

 

“At least they didn't get the dog.” Clint murmured, shaking his head. “I’d have to personally murder both of them if either of them laid a hand on a dog.”

 

“Either way, these two are still absolutely dangerous bastards.” Tony hissed, shaking his head. “We need a plan. A good, solid plan.” He lifted his head and peered over at Eddie, who was sitting with a very solemn look on his face, huddled alone in the corner. His child, his own child had tried to kill him. Neither he nor Venom were taking it very well.

 

The past four days had been spent in almost complete silence for him. The only people other than Venom that Eddie was really talking to were Loki and Wade. After the fight, Loki and Wade had been the ones to explain what had happened to everyone. After hearing what Carnage had attempted to do, none of them were angry at Eddie for going out so recklessly. Rather, they were sad for him.

 

“Mr. Brock?” Came a soft voice. Eddie just barely lifted his head to look up at Peter, who was standing timidly in front of him. Peter held his hands clasped together, and his head was tilted a little to the side. “Are you okay?”

 

Eddie sat up a little and sighed, shaking his head solemnly. “My own child was going to try and kill me.” He had tears in his eyes, barely brewing at his eyelids. “I’m not really okay. But I want to stop Carnage. If they're willing to hurt Venom and I, they’re willing to hurt anyone. And that Cletus is the worst person to be bonded to. They really are a very dangerous duo.”

 

Eddie’s chest heaved and he hung his head low. A tendril snaked out from his waist and began caressing his cheek, which was Venom’s way of calming Eddie down. None of the others could hear it, but they could tell Venom was talking to Eddie right at that particular moment.

 

“I agree with Eddie.” Steve murmured, his eyes glancing towards Eddie.
“If Carnage is willing to kill their own parents, they’re willing to kill anybody. We need to capture them, as quickly as possible, before they can cause any more destruction or kill any more people.”

 

Natasha bit her lip and hung her head low. “Well, it seems like the only way yo track Cletus other than when he kills is to watch security cameras, but he's obviously smart enough to avoid those cameras. I'm thinking Carnage must warn him when a camera’s nearby, or maybe Carnage messes with it, I don't know. But our only option right now is looking to be just waiting for them to drop a body.” A silence hung in the room. Everyone, although upset, nodded in agreement.

 

“We’ll have to keep a diligent eye out.” Shuri murmured, holding her arms out for Peter to give her a reassuring hug. Even she was a bit frazzled by the whole situation. “Natasha is right. We can't do much until the next body drops.”

 

Eddie hung his head even lower at the statement from Shuri, and the others could swear he was shaking.

~~~~~

“Pretty troublesome parents you got.” Cletus murmured as he walked along a decrepit, empty street near the outskirts of San Francisco. He felt a angry, indignant rumble from Carnage.

 

They may be my parents, but I don't want them as my parents. Carnage exclaimed with indignation. Yes, they watched over me and gave me food, like parents do. But they restricted me. Gave me too little freedom.

 

Cletus cocked his head and clicked his tongue. “Strict parents then. Luckily for me, my own parents were never too strict. They're both dead though.” He sighed, rolling his head back before snapping it up. “Anyways, it’s not your parents I’m worried about. Those people with your parents are the ones I’m worried about.”

 

I got the one in the red and black suit, slashed his chest right open. He should be dead by now. It's been four days. We shouldn’t have to worry about him.

 

“I’m not too worried about him. But that girl who was with them, she's magic. She has to be, the way she threw you without even touching you at all. And she doesn't seem that weak, either. She's got a fire in her eyes. I’ve seen that fire in someone’s eyes before. Usually, only very strong, determined people have it.” Carnage bit his lip in thought, before a rumble of hunger shot through their body. “Mm mm mm. How about we find some dinner and talk about this later?”

 

Carnage grinned, a bit of smugness that Cletus felt through their bond. Yes. Eat.

 

Cletus let out a wry laugh as he made his way onto the main street. “Your hunger may get us both into some trouble one of these days.”

 

You like trouble.

 

Cletus laughed again, nodding. “Yes, I do. That’s exactly why I enjoy having you around.”

 

He poked his head out towards the street, glancing to see where best to blend in, and where the cameras were.

 

There's a camera on the top corner of that convenience store over on the other side of the street, looking out onto this side of the street. Avoid it.

 

Cletus nodded and ducked into the trickle of people on the street, pulling on a baseball cap he had found to try and hide his red curls. He held his face away from the camera's view and made his way towards a gaggle of houses near the outskirts of the city. He hadn't struck there yet.

 

Lucky for him, someone had made sure the murders weren't being publicized. Cletus wasn't happy with the lack of attention he was getting, but it did give him the opportunity to get into more peoples houses. If people didn't know of any danger, they wouldn't take any precautions.

 

He began to whistle a little as he walked, whistling a small tune from the Kill Bill movies. He had seen the first movie before being imprisoned. He had admired the main characters dedication to getting revenge. He had longed to see the second movie, but he never got a chance.

 

“Now, let's find us a little meal, shall we?” Cletus murmured, still whistling his tune. Carnage sent a murmur of assent through their bond. “All these little houses to choose from. Hm.”

 

Cletus paused as he approached the conglomeration of houses. He began to think of a strategy to getting inside someone’s house.

 

“Carnage.”

 

Hm?

 

“I need you to give me a cut, preferably on my arm. Bad enough that it needs immediate attention, but not bad enough to cause serious harm. Then wait to heal it until I get inside someone’s house.”

 

Alright.

 

A tendril snaked out of Cletus’s torso and dug into his arm, hard enough until it formed a somewhat deep cut in his arm. Cletus hissed in pain, but tossed his head up and sighed. “Let's do this.”

 

He walked towards a more isolated house, one that was down a long, winding street and was isolated by a small gathering of trees. A car was parked in the driveway, a signal that someone was home. Cletus ran to the door and rapped his fist against the door.

 

“Coming!” Cried a voice, most likely belonging to a woman. Cletus waited a few patient seconds before the door swung open. A tall, thin woman appeared, and her face twisted into an expression of shock as her light-colored eyes landed on Cletus’s arm. “Oh god, are you alright? That looks infected.”

 

Putting on his best fake accent, Cletus made a pleading, painful face. “Can I please use your phone to call an ambulance? I lost my phone.”

 

The woman nodded, but instead of opening the door to let him in, she closed the door in his face. The door opened again a few seconds later, and handed a phone to him. “Here, you can use this. Knock when you're done.” And before Cletus could do anything, the door was closed again. He grit his teeth in frustration. He threw the phone onto the ground and ran off towards another house.

 

“I hate when people are too cautious.” Cletus snarled, as blood trickled uncomfortably down his arm. Carnage quickly lapped it up, and healed the cut just a tad, enough that it wasn't worsening in any way. Cletus let out a soft frustrated growl, tossing his head back. He ran to the furthest house from the isolated one, making sure that that one woman couldn't raise any alarms about a strange red haired man in the neighborhood. When he reached the final house, he knocked feverently on the door. A few moments passed before someone answered.

 

The door swung open to reveal a young man, with shaggy brown hair and a thin face. The man’s face twisted into an expression of worry when his eyes landed on Cletus's arm. “Oh my god, are you okay?”

 

Cletus shook his head adamantly and cringed in pain. “No, my arm is really hurting me. Can I come inside and use your phone?”

 

The man nodded and held the door open, revealing a rather quaint little house with two other men inside. When Cletus walked inside, the two men both lifted their heads, opening their mouths to say something. They both, howbeit, closed their mouths when they saw the nasty cut on Cletus’s arm.

 

“Woah dude, you good?” Inquired one of the men, who stood up to try and examine the cut. The man came closer, glancing at it, holding his arm out and yet keeping it at bay. “You need to go to the hospital, dude. I can drive you.”

 

Without any warning, and before the one man could say anything more, a long red tendril shot out of Cletus’s chest and knocked the first man out. Before the other two could really react, they too were knocked out, and they crumpled to the floor with a loud thud. Cletus hissed as the wound on his arm repaired itself, shrinking until not a remnant of the wound was left, and the skin was fresh and unmarked. Cletus exhaled slowly and began searching the house for rope.

~~~~~

Natasha hung her head and rapped her knuckles against the cherry oak door. She and Eddie had been sent by Tony to go interview the girl who had found the bodies of Don and Victoria Vaughn. And, as always, the two of them had dressed up in disguises.

 

Natasha took a simple disguise. She wore a long dark brown wig and brown contacts, and used a bit of makeup to tan her pale skin just a smidge. She had donned a loose fitting black suit with a white blouse and dark, two-inch heels. She had applied a little bit of makeup; she hadn’t put on very much, but it was enough that you could tell she was wearing makeup.

 

Eddie took an even simpler disguise. He styled his hair back, brushing it into a fancier style. He put on hazel contacts, a loose-fitting black suit, white dress shirt, long dress pants and dress shoes. He was still somewhat recognizable, but only by people who had memorized his face. As an extra precaution, though, he donned a pair of sunglasses.

 

The door was answered pretty quickly after Natasha rapped her knuckles against it. When the door swung open, it revealed a somewhat disheveled looking woman with long black hair. She tilted her head at the sight of Eddie and Natasha, a knowing look spreading across her worn face.

 

“Let me guess, you are here for Emma?” The woman questioned, folding her arms. When Natasha nodded, the woman sighed and hung her head. “You have questions for her, I assume?” When Natasha nodded again, the woman stepped aside and held the door open, letting them step into the house.

 

The house was very neat, with books stacked methodically on bookshelves and dishes tucked away in cabinets. The house smelled of cleaning supplies, a clear sign to Natasha that the inhabitants were neat freaks.

 

The woman stepped forward, turned her head, and walked to a hallway on the opposite side of the main room. She walked to a door that was in the hallway, paused for a brief second, then knocked tentatively on it. “Emma? Sweetheart? There’s people here for you.”

 

No voice was heard in reply, but the door soon opened. A young girl, around the age of 16 or so, stepped out of the room. When her eyes landed on Eddie and Natasha, she sighed and hung her head low, her dark hair falling over her face.

 

She walked over to the two of them and gestured to the couch. Taking the gesture as a command, both Eddie and Natasha sat down on the couch. The girl sat on the floor, in front of the coffee table and began to scribble on a piece of paper. Once done, she held the paper up to reveal a sentence written down: “What questions do you have?”

 

Natasha rubbed her hands together very briefly and glanced up at Emma. “We’re looking into the case of your neighbors, and we were hoping you could help us out, since you were the one to find their bodies.”

 

Emma hung her head and sighed. She began to scribble again on the paper, and when Eddie opened his mouth to speak, Emma’s mother cut him off. “Emma’s mute.”

 

“I know sign language,” Natasha remarked, and Emma held her head up to lock eyes with Natasha. A brief expression of relief crossed the young girls face.

 

What questions do you have? Emma signed, tilting her head.

 

When was the last time you had heard from the Vaughns?

 

Two days ago. Emma signed, briefly glimpsing at her mother. They were supposed to leave to go on a trip on Friday. I was going to dogsit for them, as none of their family could. Their dog really likes me.

 

Natasha smiled a little at the last sentence. Did you notice anything when you found them? Anything out of place?

 

Emma shook her head. All I saw was their headless bodies. I think there was a knife on the ground, but I’m sure the police confiscated it. I think I saw some cuts on their bodies, though. Like whoever killed them, didn’t kill them straight away.

 

Did you notice anyone odd around the neighborhood in the past few days?
I’m pretty sure I saw some guy with red hair walking in my front yard on Monday, but I’m not sure.

 

Natasha bit her lip in thought. When Emma tilted her head, Natasha stood and smiled. “Thank you, Emma. I don’t have any more questions, so my partner and I will be leaving.”

 

Emma nodded and stood, giving a fleeting wave to both Eddie and Natasha before they stepped out of the house and walked back to their car.

 

“What did she say?” Eddie questioned as soon as they were back in the car. “I’m not good with sign language.”

 

“Said that she saw cuts on the victims, just like some of the other victims had. More proof that Cletus isn’t killing his victims straight away; he’s having fun with this and torturing them. And, she said she did see a man with red hair walking around her front yard two days ago. So, all signs point towards Cletus and Carnage.”

 

Eddie sighed and shook his head solemnly. “I should’ve never turned my back on Carnage that morning.”

 

“You cannot blame yourself for this, Eddie.” Natasha said sternly, digging the key into the ignition. “Kids are mischievous, and I’m sure alien kids are the same. You and Venom seemed to have done the best you two could.”

 

“Carnage was very mischievous.” Venom spoke, forming from Eddie’s shoulder. “The only way we could’ve stopped them is by boarding the windows, door and vents shut.”

 

Eddie sighed and shook his head. “I still hate that they ended up like this. Bonded to Cletus Kasady? That’s the worst person Carnage could’ve chosen, yet they chose him.”

 

Natasha sighed. “All you can do now is to help us find and capture Cletus and Carnage. You can’t take back the past. Believe me, I’ve tried. All you can do is try and make sure the future isn’t as bad as the past. So take your mistakes, your failures and learn from them. Use them to shape your future actions so this never happens again.”

 

Eddie nodded.

~~~~~

The man who opened the door was the last to wake up. His two friends woke up before him, first the one with darker hair and second was the blonde one.

 

The one with darker hair was shaky when he first woke up. When he stirred awake, he cocked his head to the side and squeezed his eyes shut before suddenly blinking rapidly. He glanced around the room, and when his eyes fell on Cletus, a shuddering breath took over his entire body.

 

He shook his head a little when his eyes fell onto the knife Cletus held in his hands. He almost didn't seem to believe that Cletus was even there. He shook his head again with more fervor, such fervor that his brown hair fell into his eyes. He had no gag over his mouth, but he made no effort to make noise, perhaps out of pure shock of the situation.

 

The blonde boy was the second to wake up, and he shuddered with fear when he saw the knife. He blinked rapidly, and his shoulders tightened up as he sat up a little. He edged his way towards the other man who was awake, his body trembling the entire time.

 

Cletus reveled in the pure terror of the two men. Hell, even Carnage seemed to be enjoying themselves; a small wave of joy flooded through their bond from Carnage, and Cletus had smiled at the realization that Carnage was also pleased with how terrified the two men were.

 

Nearly half an hour passed after that before the third man woke up. When he did, his eyes first fell onto his friends, and then Cletus. The man gasped, the sound muffled by the gag in his mouth. When Cletus noticed the third man was awake, he laughed and clapped his hands together. “Well well well,” He drawled, a look of glee on his face, “Let’s get this party started, shall we?”

Chapter Text

“Find anything new?” Were the first words out of Natasha’s mouth when she and Eddie got back from interviewing yet another witness.

 

This time it had been a young woman, around 22, who had seen a man with curly red hair walk around her neighborhood. The woman hadn't given them anything other than a fracas caused by her neighbors, which turned out to be nothing more than a party.

 

“Nothing new.” Tony murmured in reply, his eyes darting up to Natasha. His fingers glided over his keyboard and screen, typing away to try and find more information, and all the while, his eyes never wandered from her. “What did the lady give you?”

 

“Other than a sighting and complaints about a party next door?” Natasha said with a sigh, “nothing.”

 

She walked over and tugged her dark brown wig off of her scalp, letting her red curls fall out of the wig cap. She tossed the wig to the side, letting it crumple with the cap. She grabbed a napkin and began wiping her light makeup off, tearing her heels off along with it. She made her way to the nearest bathroom to finish freshening back up.

 

“The lady only gave us a sighting of Cletus. Said she saw him yesterday, and that he came to her door with a gash in his arm, asking to use the phone. She gave it to him and closed the door, but when she opened it, he was gone.” Eddie grabbed his dress shoes and shucked them off, before holding his head back up again. “Worth looking into.”

 

“So that's how he’s getting into people's homes, hm?” Steve remarked, tapping his fingers impatiently on the desk. Bucky was sitting next to him, drawing absentmindedly on a napkin with a pen, tracing swirls onto the fabric. “He’s getting people to open their doors for him, then he goes in and kills them all.”

 

“An awful, but successful tactic.” Clint mused, fiddling with his hearing aid. “Killers have been using it for decades. No reason for it to stop working now, hm?”

 

Natasha strided out of the bathroom, still patting her face with a damp cloth. She pulled out a chair of the main table and sat down in it, setting the damp cloth down onto the table.

 

“Well if his tactic is to get people to open their doors for him, then maybe we should let the reports of the killings loose.” When everyone stared at her im shock, she just sighed and tossed her head. “I mean, think about it. Think real hard for a second. Cletus is preying on the fact that no one knows a thing. People are opening their doors for him because they don't know any better. They don't know that people are dying. And sure, people will flee, but it will get people to lock their doors and keep an eye out for him. It’ll sure make his job a lot harder if we have an entire city looking for him.”

 

“Nat’s right.” Clint spoke abruptly, catching everyone’s attention. “People are opening their doors for him because they don't know there’s a threat out there. If we let people know, and we get an entire city keeping an eye out, it might be for the best.”

 

“We can at least tell people that there's an escaped convict. If we flash his picture up on the TV and tell people to not let anyone in their homes, that should do something.” Bucky suggested, twirling a corner of his napkin. “It’ll definitely cause less panic than a report that over half a dozen people have been found murdered.”

 

Tony bit his lip in thought, taking a moment to think the whole thing over. He tapped his fingers impatiently on the desk, filling the now-silent room with a tiny tap tap tap. When he made his decision, he licked his lips and sighed.

 

“The police can come after me for this, but I’ll get a news report that there's an escaped convict. Might be good to add that he's carrying a weapon. That should instill more caution in people.”

 

“Finally, a plan that is not asinine.” Remarked Loki from her spot on the couch, her head tilted and a look of slight disinterest on her face.

 

Loki had been spending the last few days tending to Wade and Eddie, trying to calm Eddie down and keep Wade in check. She had also been practicing her magic to use against Carnage, given that it had actually worked against him.

 

“No offense,” She murmured when she saw the shock and/or offense on some of their faces, “but sometimes you all act so much like dullards that it's hard for me to believe you are as mighty as they say. And then, you prove me wrong. I’m glad you’ve finally proven me wrong.”

 

Tony tossed a slight glare towards Loki, who just shrugged her shoulders in response. As much as many of them hated Loki, she was genuinely looking out for many of them, and they were grateful for that. In fact, none of the others had come up with a plan as good as hers, surprisingly.

 

“Well what about you? Do you have any news?” Tony hissed.

 

“Well, I actually do have news.” Loki remarked, standing up. Everyone turned to stare at her. “I did mean to say this earlier, so forgive me. I sent word to my brother, saying that we have an emergency here and it would be appreciated of him if he came here. He agreed to come and try and help us, as did Val and Bruce.”

 

“What? When do they arrive?” Tony exclaimed, jumping up. Loki turned her head and examined the clock on the wall.

 

“Oh, I’d say about twenty minutes.” She turned her head towards Tony. “Be a dear and fetch them when they land, would you?”

 

The others, mainly Tony, scrambled to run to the airfield at Tony’s estate. They didn't know if Loki was lying or not, but they decided to momentarily trust her.
And sure enough, after nearly twenty minutes, a small jet landed onto the airfield. When Tony ran to welcome the people aboard, the door opened and none other than Thor himself walked out. He was joined by both Bruce and Valkyrie, who stepped off the plane with relative ease and made their way to the others, smiles plastered on both of their faces.

 

“Stark! It's good to see you again. I wish we were meeting under brighter circumstances.” Thor mused, hugging Tony. When he pulled away, he turned his head up and peered around. “Loki said it was urgent. May you point me to where she is?”

 

“She's inside.” Tony remarked, gesturing for the three of them to follow him. They did, with Thor leading them. They walked across the airfield and through the large parking garage, and they managed to get back to the estate in only minutes. When the door opened, a few of the others jumped up and rushed over to hug Thor and Bruce and Valkyrie.

 

Peter was the first to reach them, in his ecstasy to see Thor and Bruce again. “Uncle Thor!” He had exclaimed giddily, throwing his arms out wide to hug Thor. Thor laughed heartily and held his arms out, engulfing Peter in a hug.

 

“Son of Tony, it is good to see you again.” Peter laughed and pulled away, gazing at Thor with a cheery, mystified look in his eyes. Peter turned to Bruce next and hugged him as well, earning a polite chuckle from Bruce, who was still confused by Peter’s obsession with him.

 

“How is everyone?” Bruce questioned when they all finally walked inside. His eyes were trailing all across the large main room. “Have you guys had any contact with Cletus or Carnage?”

 

“Eddie and Venom ran into them a few days ago.” Natasha replied, peering briefly at Bruce. “Wade and Loki saved them, but Wade got torn open pretty good.”

 

“It's gonna take way more than get slashed in the chest to take me down.” Wade cried with a hearty laugh, suddenly emerging from the recreation room. “It's nice to see you guys. Everyone's excited to see you three again.”

 

He walked up to Bruce and held out a suited hand. He shook Bruce, Thor and Valkyrie’s hands in turn, then turned again and walked to the kitchen to scour for food. Thor, Bruce and Valkyrie continued their introductions for a few minutes, turning to each person who had walked out to greet them.

 

And then, a voice exclaimed “Brother!”, and Thor whirled around to see Loki walking towards him, her arms held out wide.

 

“Sister!” Thor replied with fervor, running towards her. He engulfed Loki in a hug, and she just chuckled softly as he squeezed her.

 

When he finally pulled away, she exhaled softly and peered at him. “You needn’t hug me that hard. You saw me just days ago, yet you act like you haven't seen me in years.”

 

“I never know when I am to see you again, Loki.” Thor murmured, a tiny hint of somberness in his voice as he stood tall. “You disappear plenty. It is reasonable that I worry when I will see you next.”

 

Loki bit her lip and sighed, cocking her head. Desperate to change the subject, she let her eyes fall over him. Without any warning, she held out a gloved hand and played a little with a strand of Thor’s hair, which had grown out to just below his chin. “You are growing your hair out again, I see.”

 

“He insisted I let him grow it out instead of trimming it.” Bruce replied with a soft laugh, right as Thor opened his mouth to reply. Bruce glanced up at Thor with tender eyes, and Thor gave a tender gaze in return.

 

Loki cringed slightly and cocked her head, turning her eyes towards Valkyrie, who seemed transfixed on Loki. She looked almost mystified, as if she was in a daze. Loki clicked her tongue and spoke. “Brunnhilde? How have you been?”

 

“Uh… oh, me?” Valkyrie snapped out of her trance, and she rubbed at the back of her neck awkwardly. “How I’ve been? I’ve uh, been alright I guess.” Valkyrie stuttered nervously, absentmindedly twirling a strand of her hair. Loki cocked an eyebrow at her, a bit perturbed by the behavior, but nevertheless turned to the others.

 

“Well, we need to go right to work on finding Carnage. We mustn't dawdle now that an entire city relies on his capture.”

 

Thor cocked his head in surprise at the statement, and Loki raised an eyebrow at his reaction. “Sister, I’d have never thought I’d hear you hold concern for an entire city that isn't even your own.”

 

“It is not my own, correct.” Loki mused, turning to walk towards the conference room. Everyone began to follow her, and she spoke again. “But three allies of mine live here and I’d rather they not have to relocate, or die.”

 

She walked into the conference room with a flourish of her cape, and she turned to glance at the others.

 

“Now, what plan have we reached?”

 

Tony cleared his throat. “We’ve reached the plan of telling the city that there's an escaped convict.”

 

Loki clapped her hands together, glimpsing at the others. “Alright then. Who wants to tell the news?”

~~~~~

A loud crunch followed by a heavy thud echoed through the near-empty, hollow apartment. The body of the third man fell to the floor, his head gone, having been devoured by Carnage.

 

Blood poured from the body and began to stain the white ash floors, bleeding through the cracks as it dug down deep. Other parts of the floor were also stained with blood, though most of it was either dried or drying. The first man, the one who opened the door, had died yesterday, just minutes after he woke up. The second man, the blond, had died five hours ago, and the third man, after hours of agony and pain, had died just seconds ago. Each of the men’s bodies had stained the flooring red.

 

Carnage rumbled contentedly, licking at the remaining blood on themselves, rumbling softly as they slowly sank back into Cletus’s skin. When the last bit of Carnage sunk below Cletus’s skin, Cletus sighed and rolled his head a bit to stretch. He exhaled, his eyes falling on the three headless bodies on the floor. He cocked his head and hissed at the pools of blood and the blood-stained floor.

 

“Too bad for the floor.” He muttered, biting his lip in distaste. He shook his head at the white ash flooring turning red with blood, and crouched down so he could get a better look at the slowly reddening flooring. “White ash, too. A shame.”

 

He stepped over the bodies, careful to not get blood on his worn, dirt-covered shoes. The bottom of his shoes were already caked with dry blood from his other victims, and Cletus quickly shucked them off in distaste. Realizing he’d need a different pair of shoes, he made his way to one of the two bedrooms in the apartment and dug through the closet until he found a pair that fit him. The pair was a pair of gray and black sneakers, which were not Cletus’s style (he preferred lighter colors, like whites and silvers, and the occasional red) but he took them anyways and pulled them on, along with a pair of light gray socks.

 

Once his shoes were changed, he grabbed a gray shirt, a silver jacket and a pair of jeans from the closet as well. He shucked his old, bloody clothing, letting it crumple to the floor. Once it laid in a messy pile on the floor, he put on the new, clean clothing, relishing the feeling of fresh clothing against his skin. The clothing he had been wearing was old, slightly worn, wrinkled and painted with blood. The new clothing was neat, obviously just washed days prior, and was decently new, being in such nice shape. Cletus relished the feeling of new clothing. Cletus thought it lucky he managed to find an apartment that actually had clean clothes.

 

Cletus’s eyes then landed on his old, bloody clothing that was now crumpled in a pile on the floor. He’d need to take them with him; it wasn't best to leave a lot of clues behind. Gritting his teeth in irritation, he bent down and clenched his old clothing tightly in his hands. Once his clothing was picked off the thankfully clean floor, he walked towards a window in the room he was in. He reached the window and held a cautious hand out, touching the window pane lightly, letting his fingers trail across it. His eyes carefully examined the frame, and he bit his lip in thought.

 

“Hey Red? Care to take care of the window pane?”

 

Carnage sent a murmur of assent through their bond, and quickly shot out three tendrils from Cletus’s shoulders. Carefully, they then finagled the pane of glass out of the frame. As soon as the frame was discarded onto the bed, without thinking, Cletus leapt through the empty frame, down to the hard concrete below. He collided harshly with the ground, wincing in pain as he stood up and gazed at the cuts and abrasions he had sustained from the fall.

 

Carnage quickly healed Cletus’s wounds, and Cletus exhaled slowly as his skin mended and cleared up. Despite the lack of the injuries, the soreness of them still lingered for a few moments.

 

Carnage shot three tendrils back through the empty frame and gingerly finagled the window pane back into the frame, so there would be no signs of forced entry whatsoever. That would definitely be sure to stump the police, Cletus thought smugly.

 

Cletus grinned slightly and lifted his head up, tossing his old clothes onto the dirty concrete of the alley. When Cletus was completely sure his clothes were in a completely non-flammable part of the alley, he hastily grabbed a nearby lighter and lit the pile of clothing on fire. (Normally he would just burn them wherever, but fire really hurt Carnage and thus neither of them would get off unharmed in the case that something burned down and the fire got to them)

 

When he stepped out onto the street, he pulled a baseball cap from the alley onto his head and put some sunglasses (these from the apartment) on. He lifted his head just barely, allowing him to glance at the tops of peoples heads. He saw blurs of black, brown and blonde, of short hair and dark hair, straight hair and wavy hair and curly hair. When his eyes fell on a head of short, dark hair, Carnage paused.

 

I recognize that face. Carnage murmured once the man’s face at last came into view. My parents looked at pictures of that man.

 

Cletus cocked an eyebrow, pausing momentarily to glance at the man. He had a fair complexion with somewhat of a baby face. His face was framed by short, dark hair and the slightest traces of stubble, and illuminated by light colored eyes. He was wearing a light blue sweater vest and seemed to be waiting for someone. He was waiting right outside a building, leaning up against a wall that had an alley right next to it. He was scrolling through his phone, his eyes almost glued to the screen and not at all paying attention to the world around him. The perfect opportunity, Cletus thought.

 

“So what do you want to do?” Cletus whispered, soft enough that no one walking by would hear him, but loud enough that Carnage could. Carnage took a moment to think.

 

Kill him. My parents care about him.

 

“Ooh, nasty. I like it.” Carnage whispered, walking into the alley next to the man. He waited until the coast looked clear, and suddenly, Carnage shot a tendril out and grabbed the man by the leg.

 

The man let out a yelp, and his phone fell to the ground, miraculously not cracking. Carnage dragged the man into the alley, dropping him face first into the concrete. The man coughed and lifted his head, confused, but his eyes widened when he saw who it was. Clearly, the man recognized the both of them.

 

Before he could say or do anything, Cletus grabbed him by the neck and held him up, right as Carnage covered Cletus’s arm.

 

Cletus cocked his head and let his eyes drift over the man, who was staring at Cletus with terrified eyes. “My symbiote says their parents know you, that they care about you.” He murmured, a sadistic grin on his face.

 

The man’s eyes widened ever further and he gasped, clawing at the arm around his neck. His whole body squirmed with such ferocity that Cletus almost let go (out of shock, of course; the man wasn't strong enough to shake his hold).

 

“Ooh, you’re actually trying to fight back. I always like that in a victim. Always makes it more fun to kill them, ya know?” The man squirmed even harder, trying to escape the grasp before he could be strangled or decapitated. He knew what would happen.

 

Before Cletus could attempt to strangle him, however, they heard rapid footsteps coming towards them. Cletus turned his head to see a woman who had just ran into the alley. My parents know her too. She was a host for my parent, the parent that carried me.

 

Carnage remarked in slight surprise, as though they were surprised to see her standing there. Cletus cocked his head in mild interest. He wouldn't have expected this woman to be a symbiote host; then again, did hosts even have a specific look? He didn't really share anything in common with Carnage’s human parent, other than they were maybe an inch apart in height and that they both had blue eyes. Cletus doubted that appearance made a difference, though.

 

Biology determines hosts. Carnage murmured in reply.

 

The woman gazed at the man, then lifted her head and locked eyes with Cletus. Something formed in her calculating blue eyes. Gritting her teeth, she instantly ran fearlessly towards the both of them, opening her mouth to scream. Cletus, realizing that she could get the attention of over a dozen people, dropped the man onto the ground and fled into the mass of people, disappearing into the crowd.

 

The woman still screamed, though she quickly closed her mouth and ran to the man on the ground.

 

The man was left coughing on the ground, the woman hovering over him while glancing rapidly around for Cletus. But by the time she lifted her head to look around, Cletus and Carnage were long gone.

~~~~~

“Guys! Hey guys, Dan is hurt!” Anne screamed when she ran into the building, heaving Dan along with her.

 

She immediately caught the attention of ten of them, including Eddie and Venom. Eddie immediately ran over and carried Dan to a bed in the small medbay, laying him down gently. Bruce and Strange immediately walked over and grabbed any equipment they could find.

 

“What happened to him?” Bruce asked, gazing at the marks on Dan’s neck. He walked towards Dan and began looking over him.

 

“Cletus happened.” Anne growled, poison dripping from her voice. “He recognized Dan somehow. He and Carnage tried to strangle Dan, but I showed up and managed to scare him away.” She gazed solemnly at Dan, who was unconscious.

 

Eddie lifted his head, a slightly feral growl escaping from his mouth. Both he and Venom agreed that Carnage was taking this too far. Eddie stood a little straighter and gazed at Dan. Other than the strangulation marks around his neck and a few abrasions littering his skin, Dan was pretty okay.

 

“He’s unconscious from shock.” Strange murmured, glancing at Dan. “He’ll need a few days to recover, and his neck will be sore, but he should be fine otherwise.”

 

Eddie turned and walked out of the room. Anne cocked her head and ran after him, calling his name. Eddie just walked into the conference room where the others were.

 

“How’s Dan?” Wade questioned, standing up.

 

“He’s fine. In shock and sore, but fine.” Anne murmured softly, hanging her head.

 

“Carnage has taken this too far.” Eddie growled, shaking his head. “They’re not going after just me. They’re going after everyone I know.”

 

“So what do we do?” Loki inquired, tossing her hair over her shoulder. Eddie bit his lip, and Loki cocked an eyebrow.

 

“It's all or nothing.” Eddie murmured at last. “We can't afford to let them escape again. We hate to say this, but we need to take those two down, no matter the cost.”

 

The others sat in mild silence.

Chapter Text

“Well this is just dandy.” Cletus growled, his eyes scanning over the TV in the newest apartment he had gotten into. He stood up, not caring that he was stepping in a pool of blood, nor over two bodies, and walked towards the TV, where an emergency report was playing. Cletus turned the sound up to hear it.

 

“And back on the scene, I’m Elliot Rose. Today I have a special news report for you. The infamous mass serial killer, Cletus Kasady, who was imprisoned for killing multiple people back in 2013, has escaped from San Quentin and is now on the lam. He escaped many days ago and hasn't been heard from. But now, police have reason to believe he is armed and dangerous, and that he is attacking and/or targeting families. Some sources close to the case say it looks as though he’s getting people to let him into their houses, and then he attacks. So, the police urge everyone to not let anyone into your house at all, especially if they're a stranger. It is unknown how many people he has targeted, as the police and those looking into the case refuse to let that information out just yet. Nevertheless, the last thing any of us want is for you to be next. The police urge you to lock your doors and keep any eye out for this convict, whose picture is being displayed. Keep a determined eye out, and lock your doors and be careful, San Francisco. Our beloved city could very well be under siege, ladies and gentlemen. Stay safe. And now, I turn to Ivelisse, who has more on this breaking news. Ivelisse?”

 

“Yes, thank you Elliot. The story is still developing, but many sources are saying…”

 

“Hmph.” Cletus scowled, glaring at the TV that was still playing. A large picture of him, one of his mugshots, was displayed largely on the screen. “A bit late on the news report, but I was not anticipating it. This is gonna make our task a hell of a lot harder.”

 

He grabbed the TV remote and clicked the TV off in irritation. He turned and stared at the two bodies on the floor, cocking his head in mild disinterest. He gingerly poked one with his foot, just to make sure it wouldn't move.

 

“Well well well Red,” He began, turning his head, “looks like it's gonna be a lot more difficult to get victims. Got any ideas?”

 

Carnage paused for a brief moment, thinking. “Not everyone watches the news. Wear a wig or something to hide your identity.”

 

Cletus bit his lip. “Good idea.” He thought for a few moments, before coming to a sudden realization. “Why the news report now, though? It's been two days since we attacked that ‘family friend’ of your parents. Someone has to be behind this sudden news report. I doubt those parents of yours have much influence over the news stations, though, so if not them, who?”

 

“One of my parents is a reporter, but they write stories. They couldn't possibly have been responsible for a news story.” Carnage agreed. “As for who’d have been behind this, I’ve no idea.”

 

“Let's look it up then.”

 

Cletus tossed his head and walked over to the nearby computer (it was a computer, right? He thought) to look up information. He stared with intense curiosity at the keyboard and the computer screen with a very confused expression; he had been in prison so long that the newer computers looked a bit strange to him. Nevertheless, he pressed his fingers to the keys and began to type into google. After a few minutes of internet surfing, his eyes finally fell onto an interesting article.

 

“Well, looks like I may have found out who’s going after us besides your parents.” Cletus drawled, as Carnage hovered over his shoulder with intrigue. Cletus pulled up the article he found and narrowed his eyes. “It looks like the Avengers are in San Francisco.”

 

~~~~~

 

“Oh, I swear, I have never been this clumsy before!” Loki exclaimed in frustration as he ran around the estate, searching for his cape. His yellow cape was the latest to go missing; his capes always seemed to disappear and then show back up randomly. They would disappear for anywhere from a few hours to a day, and Loki was getting irritated.

 

“You have never been clumsy, brother.” Thor mused, looking up from the book he was reading to see Loki running around. “It will show up soon, let it rest. None of them have ever truly disappeared, correct?”

 

“You wouldn't say that had it been your cape stolen.” Loki hissed, a bit of a exasperated look in his eyes. “Someone or something is divesting me of my capes.”

 

“Oh no!” Exclaimed Peter in fake shock, as he laid on the couch, covered in Loki’s yellow cape.

 

Loki turned his head, and his eyes widened. Loki just shook his head exasperatedly. “Young Spiderboy, I beg you to not take my capes anymore. I have a dearth of capes now.”

 

Peter just smiled innocently and pulled the cape over his head. Loki murmured something softly to himself and sat down on the couch next to Peter. Shuri snickered at the sight of Peter wrapped in Loki’s blanket while Loki sat exasperatedly, wanting it back.

 

“Peter, please.” Loki murmured, tilting his head. Peter just clutched onto the edge of the cape, a slight frown on his face.

 

“I’m cold.” He whined.

 

Loki sighed in total exasperation, his eyes falling to the side. He groaned, running a hand through his hair. “Fine.”

 

Shuri darted her eyes to Peter, smiling. She had watched Peter steal Loki’s capes many times before; it was always an amusing sight.

 

After a few minutes though, she held her head back and sighed. “Where even is Stark? He said he’d be back by now with food. I’m really hungr-”

 

“I have snacks!” Scott yelled, running towards them. Shuri looked up at Scott as he pulled a very tiny bar from his pocket. He tossed a ring at it and it grew to normal size, and he quickly caught it and handed it to Shuri. “I have more if you need more.”

 

“Awesome, thanks Scott!” Shuri cried, digging into the granola bar. She quickly unwrapped the granola bar, which was peanut butter flavored. She bit into it with a loud crunch and a smile crossed her face.

 

Peter whined from his spot on the couch, so Scott resized another granola bar and handed it to Peter, who poked at it from underneath the cape. He soon tugged it under, right as Loki cried, “Don't get crumbs on my cape!”
Peter laughed, the sound muffled by the cape. However, he sat up a little and pulled the cape off of his head, and continued to eat without getting any crumbs on the cape, to Loki’s relief. Shuri pulled up a vine compilation to watch while she scrambled through cameras to see if she could spot Cletus.

 

“How’s the manhunt going?” Wanda murmured when she walked into the room that morning. She tilted her head and sat down on the couch on the opposite side of Loki, then clasped her hands together and glimpsed up at Shuri, who was still staring intently at her computer.

 

“Well, I haven't seen a single man with curly red hair and a symbiote hanging from his back yet. And there's been no sightings. I’m eyeing the police scanners in addition to the private line from the news station that reported the story.” Shuri relayed, darting her eyes over to Wanda. Wanda pursed her lips and nodded.

 

“Well, the parties start in five, maybe six hours? What time is it now?”

Peter darted his eyes to his phone. “It’s 1:54 pm.”

 

“Of course. The parties both start at 8.” Wanda murmured, moving to stand. She tossed her hair to the side and walked over to Peter and held her arms out. He sat up and hugged her tightly, and she laughed and patted him on the back. “I’ll be back. I’ve got to go check on lunch.”

 

She turned and strided out of the room, and both Shuri and Peter waved aggressively at her. “Shame she left so soon.” Peter remarked. “She could’ve watched vines with us.”

 

Once Wanda left the room, however, Tony took her place, striding in with confidence. He immediately walked over to Shuri and pulled up a chair next to her. He pointed at the screen and murmured something to her, and she eagerly nodded in response and let her fingers fly across the keyboard.

 

“Dad!” Peter exclaimed, standing up to run over to Tony. Tony laughed and held his arms out, engulfing Peter in a hug. Tony laughed again and stood, ruffling Peter’s hair.

 

“Hey kid. How are you doing?”

 

Peter smiled widely. “I’m doing really good! Mr. Lang gave me a granola bar since we haven't eaten.” Peter tossed his head over to Scott, who just grinned.

 

“I ordered some pizza a few minutes ago. I’ll be able to get it in 5, okay?”
Peter just nodded.

 

Tony smiled and let out a soft sigh. “I’m happy you're doing good, though. Don't forget, I got you a suit for tonight, okay? It's in the closet in the room you're staying in.”

 

Peter nodded in understanding. He quickly turned and walked over to Shuri, who was eagerly pointing to a vine that was playing. Peter laughed and sat down right next to her, using the chair that Tony had pulled up.
Tony turned to walk out of the room, and he strided back to the conference room, where many of the others were sitting. Eddie’s head lifted up as Tony walked into the room, and even Venom, who was perched on Eddie’s shoulder, perked up.

 

“Shuri hasn't caught wind of anything, nor has there been any sightings.” Tony sighed. Eddie immediately slouched in his seat, and his face fell. “Sorry, Eddie.”

 

Eddie shook his head solemnly, running a frustrated hand through his hair. “It's fine. Hey, can you go find out how Dan’s doing at least?”

 

“I’ll go check on him.” Anne announced, standing up from her chair. She turned her head, and with a few clicks of her heels, was gone.
Eddie turned his head back to Tony, who was gazing at him with a mild look of pity mixed with solemness. Even Venom sighed a little.

 

“He’s smart. Smarter than we thought.” Eddie murmured suddenly, shattering the silence. “Both of them are.”

 

“We cannot underestimate them.” Venom added, squinting their eyes.

 

“Duly noted.” Natasha nodded, her eyes gazing over the screen she was staring at. Eddie’s eyes darted over to her computer, but they quickly fell back to his own computer. He went silent and continued to look up whatever he could, searching for Carnage. Soon, the room was once again silent.

 

~~~~~

 

Carnage peered at Cletus in mild interest, their eyes squinted as they took in what Cletus had just said. “Who are the Avengers? I’ve heard of them before, but who are they?”

 

“Oh, just a group of goody-two-shoes superheroes who try and save the world.” Cletus growled, scrolling through the article. The article detailed that the Avengers had landed in San Francisco a few days ago, barely under a week before Cletus’s run in with Eddie and Venom. He had quickly put two and two together, realizing that Eddie would need help, and that the two allies of his had to be superheroes- Avengers, most likely.

 

His eyes ran over some familiar names in the article, like Captain America and Black Widow, and also over some unfamiliar names, like Spiderman and Winter Soldier. He squinted his eyes a little in confusion at the many new names.

 

“I don't recognize some of the names, though. They must’ve gotten a few new members in the years that I was incarcerated.”

 

Carnage’s eyes scanned over the computer screen. They turned to Cletus. “Do you know of the others, then? The originals?”

 

“Yes. I never had the pleasure of meeting any of them, but back in 2012, they saved the entire city of New York. It was very big news, and everyone started looking into them. They’ve become very big ever since, always taking down operations and people and such.” He stared at the article for a few more moments, squinting his eyes. “This is bad.”

 

He groaned and leaned his head back, running a frustrated hand through his mass of curls. Cletus, after all, wasn't a complete idiot. He knew that while he had a chance against a hero or two, an entire team of even half a dozen to a dozen would be pretty damn difficult to go against, especially if he didn't know who some of them were; going in blind meant he wouldn't know what powers he’d fight against in the inevitability of a battle.

 

He did love the opportunity to shed some hero blood, but he knew that in a fight of one against twelve would be a very difficult feat, and that chances of winning were slim. Even with Carnage on his side. One man and symbiote would be outmatched by a team of 12 superheroes, all of which either had mutant abilities, special powers or highly advanced suits.
“This is great. I mean, we’re unbeatable against police officers, but superheroes are gonna be more of a challenge. Like that black haired girl with the magic from a few days ago.”

 

“I can beat them.” Carnage growled, a bit offended by how hopeless Cletus was talking. Cletus just sighed and locked eyes with Carnage.

 

“If you wanna take them down, you have to have a battle plan. These guys aren't idiots. Many of them are trained. They’ll be able to fight you and not die.” His eyes scanned over the article a bit more, and he let out a groan. This was going to prove to be a challenge to attempt.

 

“Fine then,” Carnage huffed and glared at the article, “Let's come up with a battle plan.”

 

Cletus paused at the statement, then grinned. “I love a good battle plan. Just remember, this isn't gonna be easy.”

 

“When is easy ever fun?”

 

“Hmph. Touche.”

 

~~~~~

 

“We’re heading out!” Tony yelled as he held the front door of the estate open. The small group staying behind at the estate to track Carnage all lifted their heads and waved goodbye to the two groups.

 

In one group was Steve, Sam, Natasha, Tony, Vision, Bruce and Scott, for Steve’s bachelor party. In the other group was Bucky, Peter, Thor, Loki, Shuri, T’Challa and Valkyrie, for Bucky’s bachelor party.
“Bye guys!” Wanda cried, waving her hand. She had opted to stay at the estate and help try to track Carnage and Cletus down with the others who were staying in.

 

“Bye!” Peter called, waving his hand eagerly. He was the last to walk outside, and once he was out, the door was closed and locked.
Eddie barely glanced up when the door closed, but instead had his eyes glued to his computer screen. Anne and Strange were in the med bay, making sure Dan was healing properly. Shuri, with her expertise, had managed to completely heal him up, but he was still in a bit of shock, and, as Strange predicted, had soreness on his neck. He was still staying in the medbay, despite his insistence he was okay and could go back out.

 

Wade and Hope were also sitting with computers, though Wade was more goofing off than acting serious (he was; however, keeping a keen eye on the cameras he was supposed to be watching). Hope was combing through more surveillance cameras, though the camera number had been limited to strictly public cameras, like those outside of shopping malls. Her eyes were moving rapidly, scanning over each camera with dedication.

 

“Any new news reports?” Hope inquired, letting her eyes drift quite briefly at Wanda, who had walked back into the room. Wanda bit her lip and shook her head.

 

“Nothing. Either they have a new victim that hasn't been found or they're not hunting.”

 

“They will be hunting,” Venom growled from over Eddie’s shoulder, “We just have to wait until a body shows up.”

 

“Hey, I think I may have found something.” Wade interjected, raising his hand. “Two bodies were just found in an apartment near the airport. A married couple who had just gotten home from celebrating their one year anniversary. Shai and Victoria Caxton, both 26.”

 

Wanda tilted her head in curiosity, before commenting, “The airport? You don't think he's gonna try to fly somewhere, do you?”

 

“No.” Eddie interrupted, before Wade had the chance to reply. “If anything, he’s hellbent on going after Venom and I and anyone we care about. I doubt either of them would leave the state.”

 

“Eddie's right.” Everyone turned their heads to see Anne, who had returned from the medbay with Dan at her side. “Carnage especially wouldn't want to leave the state. Besides, Cletus is an escaped convict. No way he can get on a plane.”

 

Eddie jumped up and ran to Anne, hugging her. As soon as they broke apart, Eddie turned to Dan and hugged him. Dan laughed a little as Eddie hugged him.

 

“We’re so glad to see you doing okay, Dan.” Eddie murmured, a large smile on his face.

 

“Yeah well, it’ll take more than that to take me down.” Dan laughed as Eddie pulled away. “How's the search for those two going?”

 

“No luck so far. That bastard’s great at hiding,” Wade grumbled from his seat, shifting in mild frustration, “I mean, we got a report of two bodies found near the airport, but that's pretty much it.”

 

“Maybe we should take all the locations Cletus has hit, and form a map. It might give us an idea of where he's going next,” Dan offered with a shrug.
Everyone in the room paused for a brief moment, completely silent.

 

“That's… a great idea.” Hope replied. She immediately began typing rapidly on her computer, searching up all the locations of the murders. “I’ll list all of them and come up with a map.”

 

Her fingers flew over the keyboard, going faster than any of them could follow. After a few minutes, she exclaimed aloud and whirled her computer around to show the map she had created.

 

“There!” Wanda pointed a finger at the map as everyone crowded around the computer. “He’s going in a jagged, zig-zag-like path. If he continues that path, he’ll end up……. around here.” She pointed to a cluster of houses on the map.

 

Eddie narrowed his eyes at the map. “What should we do then?”
“Hm. Maybe, find all of the security cameras in the area. Alert police to keep a close but secretive watch. We don't want him to run off and risk losing his trail.” Anne suggested. “We can't give either of them any clue that we’ve caught onto their pattern.”

 

Hope nodded in agreement, and the others in the room soon followed, some of them murmuring, “That's a really good idea.”

 

“Alright.” Hope murmured with a smile. “As soon as the others get back, we can show them the map.”

 

Everyone nodded in agreement. “Alright, now let’s get some dinner.”

~~~~~

The door to the estate opened again at half an hour past midnight that night, at which time, most of the estate was asleep. The only person still awake was Dr. Strange, who had stayed up just in case someone had gotten injured during the bachelor parties. Given Steve’s track record of fighting people and Bucky’s track record of being just plain dramatic (and how there were still many people who heavily distrusted or disliked him), Strange had felt it justifiable to await news of potential injuries.

 

Steve’s group was the first group to return, and they returned just a few minutes past midnight in one of Tony’s limos. Steve was the first to walk in, Sam and Natasha both at his sides.

 

He was obviously tired, his walk a tad wobbly from exhaustion, and so he retired to his room, a bit sad that Bucky wasn't back yet.

 

Sam took off rather quickly to his room, the one he shared with Clint and Natasha. He was still somehow wide awake, but he collapsed onto his bed with a loud, relieved sigh and sank into the comforter. Natasha followed, a bit tired but careful to not show it. Clint was already asleep, after falling asleep minutes after the two groups had left the estate.

 

Natasha fell asleep first, falling just minutes after she laid her head down. Sam took a bit longer, but ultimately fell asleep within half an hour.

 

Tony was a bit slower than them, walking carefully as he was a bit drunk and quite tired, but as soon as he got inside, he ran into Strange’s widespread arms. “Missed you.” He spoke, a bit slurred. Strange just smiled and pressed a chaste kiss to Tony’s lips.

 

“You reek of alcohol, Tony.” Strange murmured. Tony giggled drunkenly, and yelped when Strange picked him up. Strange then carried him to their shared room and laid him gently on the bed. Tony held his arms up for a hug, and Strange gave him a quick hug before walking off to the medbay in case someone came in injured. Tony fell asleep pretty quickly after that.

 

Vision walked in next, carrying a sleepy Bruce, and set him onto a bed in the room that had been given to him and Thor. Bruce mumbled something sleepily and turned over onto his side, falling asleep.

 

Scott was the last to walk in, a bit sleepy and drunk, and he collapsed onto a couch in the main room. Vision sighed and picked him up, carried him to the room given to Scott, Wade and Loki. Wade and Loki were both already asleep. Scott mumbled “Thank you” to Vision before turning onto his side and digging his face into the pillow. He fell asleep pretty quickly.

 

Vision retired to the library, as he could not really sleep. Strange opted to stay up, as to await the second group.

 

The door opened yet again at one in the morning, alerting the quiet and mostly asleep estate of the return of the second group, Bucky’s group.
Bucky was the first of his group to walk in. He almost instantly headed for his and Steve’s room, as he was exhausted and far too ready to sleep.

 

Steve was already there, snuggled comfortably under the mass of covers, half asleep. He held his arms up regardless and hugged Bucky when he walked into the room. Bucky yawned and dug into the bed and under the covers, falling asleep quickly in Steve’s embrace.

 

Peter and Shuri walked in next, both of them tired and yet still talking excitedly. Peter walked almost immediately to the kitchen to get a snack and glass of water, and he got a snack and a glass for Shuri as well. The two of them munched happily, still talking as they walked back to their shared room.

 

Valkyrie walked in carrying Loki, an expression of mild frustration on her face. She walked to his room and laid him down onto a bed that she presumed to be his (it was also the only empty bed). She exhaled and walked to the room she now shared with Hope, to find Hope already asleep. Valkyrie just shrugged and fell under the covers, falling asleep.

 

Thor was the last person to walk inside, and after locking the door and turning off the light in the main foyer, he retired to his and Bruce’s room. Bruce was asleep by then. Thor frowned a little, but hugged Bruce regardless before laying down next to him.

 

Strange was still awake, but once Thor retired to his room, Strange put his things away. After stretching a little, Strange walked up to his and Tony’s room and turned in for bed.

 

Vision stayed in the library all night, awaiting any news of incidents while simultaneously reading books he found on the large, high bookshelves.
The last of the main lights were clicked off around 1:10 am. And at a little past 1:30 that morning, the entire estate was asleep.

Chapter Text

“A map?” Tony inquired, looking over the bar at Hope, who was sitting in the middle of an eager group of people. “You guys came up with a map?”

 

“Mhm.” Hope replied, clicking away on her keyboard. “Dan came up with the idea. We made a map of all of Carnage’s locations and we found a pattern in the houses they hit. Take a look.”

 

Tony pushed his way through the small crowd around Hope and peered at the computer. Each of the people who had been out the night prior took a long glance at the map, each forming an opinion of it.

 

“That's genius.” Shuri remarked when she took her turn staring at the map. “Now we can clearly see his pattern and form an idea of where he’ll hit next.”

 

“Exactly.” Hope clicked away at her keyboard once more. “See this? It's his pattern. We follow his pattern, and we find him.”

 

“Well then,” Wade declared, turning to look at the reader, “Let's find this piece of shit, shall we?”

 

~~~~~

 

A lunch break was officially called that day at half an hour past noon to stir the busy estate from their duties. Given how widespread and tangled everyone was, it was nearly ten minutes before everyone gathered for lunch.

 

The estate had effectively been split into groups: the stay-and-investigate, the trackers, and the go-out-and-investigate.

 

First, the stay-and-investigate. This was one of the two larger groups, alongside the trackers. The group was made of 7 people: Bruce, Vision, Dan, Strange, Wanda, Thor and Scott.

 

Bruce, Dan, Strange and Scott were watching the security cameras dutifully. Wanda and Thor were scouring the internet for articles, while Vision was scanning for any information on the world wide web.

 

The second group was the trackers. This group was comprised of eight people: Hope, Tony, Peter, Shuri, Loki, Deadpool, Bucky and Valkyrie.
Tony, Shuri and Hope were all analyzing the pattern and eyeing potential victim houses. Loki and Peter were carefully examining the location and surroundings of each house to see if they could find a certain type of building Cletus liked to hit. Deadpool was hitting up security cameras in the area and looking for any signs of Cletus. Valkyrie and Bucky were left to go along the list of houses hit and feed locations to the third group.

 

The third and final group was the go-out-and-investigate group. This was the smaller group, made of six people: Eddie, Natasha, Clint, Sam, Steve and Anne. Eddie had teamed up with Steve, Natasha with Anne and Clint with Sam. They went to houses along the trail of bodies, asking around for sightings and such.

 

The three groups, while working individually, were also technically working together. Whatever information one group got was transferred to the other two. And thus, a circle of information had formed.

 

When the lunch break was called that day, it drove everyone out of their work and drove all of them to eat. First to the table were the stay-and-investigate group, followed closely by the trackers.

 

“How's the tracking going?” Remarked Strange as he sat down with a plate of chicken and rice that he had fixed for himself. His eyes trailed up to Tony, who was stirring a fork in his plate of spaghetti.

 

“We’ve found a total of nine houses we think Cletus may hit. The others are out there right now warning each house and every house surrounding them that there is a possible threat.” Tony replied, shoving a forkful of spaghetti into his mouth. “The plan right now is that if we prevent him from getting more victims, he might go out into the open and we’ll be able to catch him.”

 

“The thing about serial killers,” Bruce remarked, placing his plate on the table, “is that they’re often hungry to get caught. It's odd, but it's just a common thing.”

 

Loki shook his head in disdain as he ate his own plate of chicken parmigiana at the bar. “Serial killers. So tenacious to kill and yet to get caught at the same time.”

 

Tony clicked his tongue and nodded in agreement before shoving yet another forkful of spaghetti into his mouth. “We’ve just got to lure him out somehow. Out of whatever person’s house he’s using as a hideout.”

 

“Sounds risky.” Dan murmured, sitting down at the table. “You guys got a plan in case Cletus doesn't act according to plan?”

 

A brief moment of silence filled the room before Tony nodded. “We’re keeping watch on the area around each house that has been hit, along with potential hits. If he somehow finds another victim, we’ll find him that way too.”

 

The front door opened, and the first interrogation pair walked in. It was Eddie and Steve. They walked towards the kitchen and each grabbed a plate of food. Scott had actually fixed a plate specially for Eddie, which he gladly took.

 

It was cooked chicken, yellow rice, tater tots and a chocolate bar (for Venom). Steve's was just chicken and broccoli, which he didn't seem to mind.

 

In fact, Steve had lit up at the plain plate of food and bit into it eagerly, a particularly bright smile on his face when he realized Bucky had made it for him.

 

“We the first of the interrogation squad to get back?” Eddie questioned as he stabbed a fork into his chicken.

 

“Yup.” Replied Scott.

 

“Hm.”

 

Steve had sat down next to Bucky and was eating happily while Bucky played with his hair. Steve’s hair was a bit longer than he usually had it. He didn't know why he hadn't gone for a haircut in weeks; perhaps he was lazy, or perhaps it was because Bucky liked his hair a little long. Whatever it was, he liked his hair the way it was.

 

The next duo to return was Natasha and Anne, who walked in mere minutes after Eddie and Steve. Anne took a plate that Dan handed her and pressed a quick kiss to his cheek. “Thank you,” she murmured before sitting down right next to him. He handed her a glass of water that happened to be sitting next to him, and she kissed his cheek yet again.

 

Natasha was handed a plate by Steve, who was still eating his chicken. Natasha took the plate and sat at the bar, fixing herself some water in a fancy champagne glass she happened to find on one of the cup shelves. She handed a glass to the others sitting at the bar, as well as anyone at the table who was without a proper drink.

 

“Hey Steve, Eddie, you two find anything?” Natasha asked.

 

Eddie shook his head. “No sightings. We did give a few warnings out to people, though. Luckily, Steve managed to actually convince a few of them to lock their doors and practice extreme caution.”

 

“That's good.”

 

“Did you two find anything?”

 

“Not really. Just handed out some warnings, same as you two.”

 

“Huh. Okay.”

 

A mere four minutes later, Sam and Clint returned. They were the last pair to return. Also having no luck with sightings, the two just sat down and grabbed a plate each.

 

By the time they returned, most of the others had finished their meals. Even Eddie had finished, though it was mainly due to Venom scarfing down their food as though they hadn't eaten in days.

 

Once they finished with their plate, they dropped it off by the sink, where Bruce was washing the dishes. Right after that, Wade led them outside and the two (or really, three) of them took off to another city to hunt down a bad guy for Venom.

 

~~~~~

 

“The California breeze just feels amazing, doesn't it?” Wade remarked as Eddie revved his motorcycle down the road they were on. Eddie nodded a little, focusing on the road rather than what Wade was saying. “Ah. I’ll never get used to this. Makes me want to move here.”

 

“Why don't you?”

 

“Ah, I can't leave Colossus behind. Nor Cable, or Negasonic, or Dopinder. Or Domino, or Yukio. Those guys all live in New York. I can't leave them there.”

 

“That’s reasonable.”

 

Eddie revved the handlebars again and sped up as they crossed the bridge into Oakland. Eddie had started hunting for heads in Oakland so he wouldn't have the possibility of running into Carnage without backup. Not that he thought he would even run into Carnage, but he didn’t want to risk anything. In fact, he had even started bringing Deadpool along just in case something happened.

 

“It looks so beautiful out today.” Wade commented.

 

“It is pretty. We like when the sky is clear.”

 

“So do I dude.”

 

Eddie smiled a little at the conversation. Venom and Wade seemed to bicker sometimes, and yet they got along, which made Eddie happy.

 

After a long drive, Eddie parked in an empty alley in Oakland and got off, shucking his helmet. Wade hopped onto the concrete and tugged his helmet off, before sighing and staring at the sky.

 

“Alrighty! You and boy toy ready to find a bad guy?”

 

“Not a boy toy.” Venom chastised yet again. Eddie didn't know why Venom even cared to correct Wade anymore, but it was amusing nonetheless.

 

“Mhm.” Wade said in return, before walking out onto the street. He had donned regular civilian clothing (a dark gray hoodie and mahogany sweatpants) over his suit, and was walking with his head lowered in an attempt to be discreet.

 

Eddie followed him onto the main street, and he went full hunting mode. His senses heightened with the aid of Venom as he stalked the streets, keeping a careful ear and eye out. He watched and waited for any sign of a crime happening. Deadpool was actually a little impressed.

 

Many minutes passed before the two (or really, three) of them finally reached the crime-infested part of the city. Crime was bound to happen there, and they’d find a bad guy pretty quick.

 

And so, Eddie began checking down alleyways, looking into windows of decrepit, run down buildings, and keeping an ear out for screams or cries.

 

Silence filled the hollow streets of the crime infested part of Oakland, an odd thing considering how loud it typically was. Neither of them heard much until twenty minutes after they got there, when they heard a scream from a nearby alley. Eddie rushed over to see a man hovering over a woman, trying to tear off her jacket as she clutched onto it tightly, screaming against the hand over her mouth.

 

“LEAVE HER ALONE!” Eddie screamed, catching the attention of both of them. With the man distracted, the woman bit his hand. He let go of her with a yelp and she fell, colliding with the concrete below her.

 

“Leave us alone! I have business with her.” The man growled. The woman let out a sob as she pulled herself into a somewhat-sitting position.

 

“HE’S ASSAULTING M-” The woman yells before she’s quickly slapped to the ground again by the man. This time, she yelps in pain and lets out a soft whine, clutching at the scrapes on her arm and cheek.

 

“I said, leave her alone.” Eddie punctuated the last three words, emphasizing each of them. Venom began to crawl over Eddie’s body, covering his skin in a black, tar-like substance. Before the man could say anything more, Venom shot out an arm and covered the man’s mouth. The woman let out a scream.

 

“Go. Run and find shelter.” Venom instructed the woman, who was still laying bloodied on the ground. The woman didn't move.

 

Wade, who had appeared in the alley, ran to the woman and began to tug her up. After a few moments of resistance, he managed to help her up off the concrete. She clutched onto Wade’s arm as she stood, trembling, staring at Venom. After giving Venom a shaky, uncertain glance, she quickly realized they weren't after her. They were after the man and the man only.

 

“Go. Run somewhere.” Wade murmured. It wasn't a demand, but more of a request. A suggestion. The woman soon gave a shaky nod and sprinted off, not turning her head back to give Venom, Wade or the man a second glance.

 

“You shouldn't have gone after her.” Venom growled, a glint of hunger gleaming in their eyes.

 

The man's eyes widened in terror and he squirmed, trying to scream against the tar-like substance covering his mouth. Venom’s skin, however, was too thick and rubbery, and it drowned the man’s cries out completely. As Venom reached their head forward, a single tear rolled down the man’s cheek.

 

A sickening crunch echoed through the alley as Venom’s teeth came down on the man’s neck. Teeth met bone, and the bone cracked under Venom’s immensely strong rows of razor sharp teeth. The man’s skull cracked along with the rest of the bone in his head, and Venom slurped up the brain inside of it. It was delicious.

 

Venom wasn’t finished, though. While Wade had already turned and poked his head out of the alley to check for passerby, Venom tore out the heart and lungs of the man. After devouring both of the organs, Venom was finally done with the body and tossed it aside.

 

As the now headless body fell to the floor, Venom rumbled in satisfaction, still licking up the blood that was pouring down their skin. Wade cringed the tiniest bit at the sickening splat of the body against the concrete.

 

“Got your day’s full?” Wade commented when Venom finally turned to face him. Wade cocked a brow as his eyes locked with Venom’s.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good. Let's head back to the estate before something happens.”

 

“Nothing will happen in the time we’ve been gone.”

 

“You never know.”

 

Venom slowly sank back into Eddie’s skin, and Eddie shivered a little when the last of Venom retracted into his body. Venom immediately curled up on Eddie’s left shoulder blade and began to rest, satiated by their meal.

 

“Alright. Let's go back.”

 

“After you.” Wade joked, and Eddie walked forward. The two walked for a while before they got back to Eddie’s motorcycle.

 

“Hop on.”

 

Eddie got onto his motorcycle and grabbed his helmet and strapped it on. Wade hopped on after Eddie and Eddie took off back towards San Francisco and the estate. The wind was still cool, so Wade exhaled and relaxed as they rode along the rolling California roads.

 

~~~~~

 

By the time Wade and Eddie got back, the others were still planning. When they opened the door, Natasha lifted her head and ran towards Eddie.

 

“There's been a sighting.” She announced, a wig already on her head. “You,” she pointed to Eddie, “get dressed. We’re going to question a witness.”

 

Eddie just nodded and ran off towards his room to get dressed in a decent disguise. Natasha just walked over to a mirror and began applying makeup while Wade went back to the group he had been in.

 

By the time Eddie finished getting dressed, Natasha had put all of her makeup on and had changed into a very fashionable outfit. She had donned a white and black striped blouse, a pair of jeans and a long gray coat. She had tied the dark brown wig she was wearing into a bun, and had put some makeup on and donned a pair of glasses.

 

Eddie, however, had done his typical thing of just changing his outfit and brushing his hair back. Natasha gave him a glance-over and deemed him worthy, and Tony lent Natasha the keys to one of his cars.

 

“Who are we going to interview today?” Eddie asked when Natasha finally dug the keys into the ignition and drove off from the estate.

 

“Elijah Jaeke. He says he found three of his friends dead in one of their apartments.” Natasha replied, gripping the wheel. “He’s in the hospital. Apparently passed out from shock and had to be hospitalized. I called ahead, the nurses said he’s available for visitors.”

 

“That's great. That he's available for visitors.”

 

Natasha nodded and focused all of her attention onto the road. The rest of the car ride passed in silence. Natasha and Eddie didn't exchange any more conversation, but Venom struck up a conversation with Eddie and the two talked through thoughts for the rest of the car ride.

 

After around ten or so minutes, they finally reached the hospital. Natasha turned the car off and closed the door, rechecking her appearance very briefly before striding to the main doors.

 

The hospital lobby was relatively empty, with only three people sitting in chairs around the room. Natasha’s heels clicked loudly on the marble flooring as she walked to the nurses desk.

 

“Hello, we’re here to see Elijah Jaeke.” Natasha spoke in a feigned european accent. The nurse sitting there looked up at her, cocking a brow. After a few moments, the nurse began typing at her computer.

 

“Room 210, second floor.” The nurse murmured, pointing to a sign and then to the elevator. Natasha thanked her and the two of them took off towards the elevator. Natasha clicked the open button and pursed her lips. After a few seconds, the doors glided open, and she and Eddie both walked into the elevator.

 

The elevator ride was very quick, and they both took off towards 210 as soon as the doors opened.

 

The boy was sitting under a large blanket with a book propped against his leg. When the door opens ed, he looked up and tilted his head at the sight of Natasha and Eddie, a quizzical look in his light colored eyes.

 

“Are you Elijah Jaeke?” Eddie questioned. The boy nodded.

 

“Are you reporters?” He asked when they reached his bed. He was still staring at them quizzically. “I didn't think reporters would come to me.”

 

“Well, we’re actually following this case.” Natasha replied. “May I sit here?”

 

Elijah nodded, and Natasha sat down on the side of the bed.

“Wait, what case?”

 

“We’re pretty sure that your three friends were victims of this killer we’ve been covering.” Eddie explained.

 

“What killer?”

 

Natasha gave Eddie a quick glance before turning to face Elijah. “A killer named Cletus Kasady.”

 

“Oh. I’ve heard of that guy. Or at least, my mom told me about him back when I was a kid.” He gave a quick pause. “He’s killing again? Didn’t they catch him like years ago?”

 

“He escaped.” Eddie replied simply. The boy turned to Natasha, who cocked her head in Eddie’s direction and nodded.

 

The boy sat back in momentary silence, before clearing his throat and sitting up in the bed.

 

“Oh. Okay. How can I help you?”

 

“What things can you remember about the crime scene? Anything stick out at all?”

 

Elijah bit his lip. “Their heads were all gone. That was the main thing I noticed. And… I think there was rope burns on their bodies, like their torsos and arms. Like they had been tied up with rope.” He shifted a little, putting his book aside. “Their bodies were spaced away from each other, but in the same room. And I think Hunter’s favorite hoodie was missing. Cuz, ya know, I had my boyfriend go to their apartment after I passed out, just to see what he could find. He said some of Hunter’s clothes were gone.”

 

“Clothes? Do you know what clothes were stolen?”

 

“Yeah, yeah I do. Hunter’s favorite silver hoodie, a gray shirt with the NASA logo and a pair of really dark jeans. Oh, and these black and gray sneakers Hunter always wore. I can pull up a picture, I think I have one on my phone.”

 

“No, just a description is fine.” Natasha murmured with a smile, holding up her hand as Elijah shifted to grab his phone. Elijah nodded and sat back. “Anything else?”

 

Elijah bit his lip again, taking another brief moment to think. “Hm. One of the windows I think looked off. Like maybe the guy escaped through there? And I think there were bloody footsteps on the ground, but I forget where they lead. Other than that, nothing.”

 

Natasha nodded and stood up, getting off the bed. “Alright. Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Jaeke.”

 

Elijah nodded. “It was my pleasure.”

 

Natasha and Eddie nodded and left the room as Elijah waved them both goodbye. Once they got out into the hall, they immediately made their way to the elevator and went out to the parking garage. Eddie hopped into the car first, Natasha following him. She dug the key into the ignition, and they were off.

 

It was during the drive back when the phone rang. Being that her phone was connected to Bluetooth in the car, Natasha clicked the accept button, and Tony’s voice filled the car.

 

“Hey you two. Can you hear me?”

 

“Yes, we can.” Natasha replied, keeping her eyes on the road.

 

“Great. Loki came up with a plan.”

 

Eddie cocked his head. “What’s his plan?”

 

“We need to get someone to write a fake article or statement that we left the city. If Cletus really is after us, he’ll try to follow us, right? Well, let's lure the fucker out by making him follow a fake trail.”

 

Natasha clicked her tongue. “Who's gonna write it?”

 

Tony smirked on the other end of the line. “Don’t worry. I got a person in mind.”

 

~~~~~

 

Cletus let out a long sigh as he stared out of the window of the house he had gotten into. A body laid on the floor a few feet away, while a young girl around age 21 whimpered against a gag as she sat tied against a wall. Cletus barely turned his head at the sound, seeming a bit bored by the girl.

 

The girl let out a string of whimpers, her dark eyes brimming with tears. Cletus stood and walked over to the girl, crouching down in front of her. She turned her head away and squeezed her eyes shut, determined to not look at him.

 

He took the knife in his hand and trailed it over her cheek, leaving a small, shallow cut in her skin. She whimpered against her gag and laid her head back, tears streaming down her face. Cletus huffed.

 

He stood up and instead turned to the whiteboard he had found in the house. He and Carnage had been concocting a battle plan for when they ran into the Avengers.

 

Whenever he wasn't torturing his two newest victims, he had been dutifully drawing away at the whiteboard, which was turned away from the prying eyes of both victims.

 

The woman let out another soft whine, completely muffled by the gag. She turned her head and rested it against the wall. Cletus didn't even turn around when he heard the whine.

 

He had taken to scrolling on the computer in the room as well, looking up anything that could help him. It was after a few minutes that an article popped up in his feed. The large headline caught his eyes.

 

“The Avengers were just seen flying out of San Francisco.”