“What do you mean we can’t?” Eddie scrunches his face and scratches at the sprouting stubble on his cheek. “We can’t like ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘oh dear, we just can’t’?”
Venom has to admit it’s a fair question to ask, especially while they’re lying tangled in the sheets, Eddie buck naked and Venom webbed around him like the opening to a tentacle hentai Eddie’s college roommate once made him watch as a joke. Neither, Eddie. We cannot. In the literal sense. Or rather, as I doubt there is anything in the universe your species will not attempt fucking, I cannot.
Eddie rolls his eyes and hikes the covers up to ward off the chill of the room. Venom slides up the bare skin of his shoulder, savoring the diffusion of interstitial fluids through their mass. “Listen, I’m not going to argue with you on the ‘humans will fuck anything’ point, but could you maybe clarify a little? ‘No’ would have been a full sentence, as would ‘I’m not interested’. But ‘I can’t’ sounds like—do you mean your species doesn’t have sex?”
No. We have been known to do so from time to time.
“So… you just can’t have sex with me?”
Precisely that, Eddie. While I would welcome the chance to engage with you sexually, I am incapable of being “turned on” as it were.
By any not of my planet. Venom turns beneath Eddie’s skin like a worm in soft earth. You simply cannot produce the correct chemicals to induce it.
Eddie sighs. “So Riot then, but not me. Go figure.”
Venom extrudes a bit of themself, forming a cephalic projection and adorning it with eyespots in a way they know Eddie finds pleasing. They nuzzle against his skin, flick their tongue across his lips and purr as Eddie turns into the kiss. They adore kissing, the warmth, the slickness, the soft, eager sounds that Eddie makes when they push their tongue into his mouth. If it makes you feel better, I am equally disappointed. If any creature outside my species would be capable of turning me on, it would be you.
Eddie laughs, choking a little into the kiss, and backs off to gasp for air. “That so?” he says, eyes twinkling. “One sweaty little loser human is all it takes to turn you into a xenophile?”
My sweaty little loser human. Venom rumbles, inwardly preening at the way Eddie shudders at the possessive tone.
Eddie laughs again, shaky and higher in pitch. “Yeah, yours. Christ, babe, if you’re trying to cool me down, I gotta say you’re doing a crap job.”
Venom considers this. I see no reason why you need to ‘cool down’.
Eddie bites his lip and Venom watches the bloom of blood beneath the skin with a hunger which feels much more familiar. “Okay, but, I think I’m going to need a shower then.”
You mean you need to masturbate.
Eddie’s head clunks back against the pillow, his ears flushing with blood. “Yes, damn it, I was trying to be polite.”
You can masturbate like this.
Eddie’s whole face goes bright red. “Uh, I really…”
Let me specify. I would like to hold you while you do so.
Eddie’s eyes go round as quarters. Venom takes advantage of the opportunity presented by his slack mouth and kisses him again. They web along Eddie’s skin, wind into his hair. “ With me.” They murmur, spoken words pressed into Eddie’s face that vibrate against his jawbone. Us. Together.
Eddie whimpers delightfully and Venom helps guide him as he gropes between his legs. The rising and ebbing tides of neurotransmitters and hormones are like feasting, like the glutted feeling of phagocytosis. They manipulate Eddie’s frame as he creeps closer to climax, pin him open and loom over him, the expansive coils of their mass like the great rainforest serpents in Eddie’s memory.
“If I could,” they rumble. “I would gladly copulate with you.”
“Feels,” Eddie gasps, “kinda like we’re copulating now.”
Venom laughs, but not unkindly. “Not precisely. But I think I like this just as well. None of my kind are as soft as you, or make such pleasing sounds.”
Eddie tightens his grip and Venom trails tendrils of their mass up his throat and to his face, positioning themselves as if holding Eddie’s gaze, though of course they don’t need eyes to see Eddie, to track the arcing firework of his climax.
Eddie’s breath hiccups. “Really close.”
Venom could mimic the myriad human platitudes they have gleaned from Eddie’s memories, but at that moment, coiled over Eddie and considering memories from a distant, dark corner of space, they want to give him more than that. They want to give him what they wished to hear from a partner, something which has meaning to Venom, rather than a human.
“You are safe,” they say. “Safe with me, here, at this moment. It is safe to open to me, to let go. I am strong enough to protect us both.” They form claws, hands, holding. “Show me.”
Eddie sobs out something unintelligible that might be ‘I love you’ and spills into his own hands. Venom wishes in that moment that they could couple with Eddie. Remembers the strange, pulsating excitement of meeting with a compatible mating type, the chemo-language storm sliding over membrane and tingling through its mass. They remember the drugging sensation of sinking inside another, not the diffuse, all over pleasure of submerging in a host, but focused, pinpointed. Of being a tool for another’s pleasure and the shocking, joyful feedback loop. The luxurious afterglow and the pillow talk as one stitched in the plasmids they had received like precious rings, integrating each colorful thread into the new pattern of the self.
But their mass is quiescent, quiet as the night sky above, no hint to the howling noise of the void beyond. They coil around Eddie’s cooling, trembling frame and hum comfort and affection into his blood and bones.
Later, when they have licked the cocktail of gametes and protein from Eddie’s skin, and Eddie is sleeping, Venom lies awake, thinking.
They experience no disappointment in their disconnection from their home world. They weren’t exaggerating when they told Eddie they were quite low on the pecking order, ordinary and occasionally derided for excessive sentiment. They would not give up the warmth and joy they experience in Eddie’s body and mind to strip down and couple with a stranger of their own. And yet they cannot stop thinking about this. If there is a way to form the proper compounds, to sensitize their mass so they could make love in the manner of Venom’s kind. They wonder if Eddie would like that.
They uncoil from Eddie’s side, stretch across the room, and grab his laptop.
Venom rides coiled in the space between Eddie’s shoulder blades as Eddie putters about the kitchen, making French toast and bacon. They know Eddie finds the weight comforting, and they’ve found their own pleasure in being able to touch and toy with parts of him from without. Eddie smiles as Venom twines tendrils between the fingers of the hand not holding the spatula, and lifts his arm to kiss the famiscile of knuckles, little punctuated kisses, all the way down to their claws.
They eat both the toast and bacon drenched in sweet syrup, interspersed with sips of bitter coffee. Venom thinks that they could spawn, here, in this place, with this man. Hostile atmosphere notwithstanding, they have never felt so safe. Even the knowledge that there is fire and lethal sound to be leveled against them does nothing to cool their ardor.
After the dishes, Eddie goes to his laptop to get started on work. Venom feels the trip, the slight hiccup in his mind when he notices something amiss.
“Why were you Googling chemistry websites?”
It’s not strictly speaking the whole truth, and the truth feels strange and somewhat embarrassing. Something I was thinking about, Eddie. That is all.
Eddie raises an eyebrow. “Feel like sharing with the class?”
Eddie frowns, but doesn’t press. “Well if you want to talk about it, I’m all ears, babe.”
Venom squeezes gently around Eddie, who closes his eyes a moment, drinking them in.
Soon, Eddie. I will tell you when I know more.
Soon is...a stretch at best. Venom is no chemist nor linguist, or even a biologist, never learned the art of breaking down the building blocks of their chemo-tongue and translating them as parts of the self. Humans insist on doing everything visually, and Eddie’s breadth of knowledge involves almost nothing of this. It takes painstaking ages to cobble human notation into something Venom can read.
Thirteen residues. Delicate chains of carbon and nitrogen, strung together like jewels, atoms of lethal oxygen imprisoned harmless in their grip. Venom traces the lines of the letters on the computer screen and remembers the drunken diffusion of peptides through their mass. The tingling, unstoppable cascade, the breathless ignition of phosphorylation. They consider their snoring host. Could they have that again? With Eddie?
They have no way to produce the complementary compounds on their own, and attempting to reverse engineer such a thing into Eddie’s genetic code might have unforeseen consequences. The components of the system required to synthesize it artificially cost more than the credit limit on the little piece of plastic Eddie carries to barter goods and services. But Venom has spent enough time on Earth to learn one very critical thing about human civilization.
If you cannot make it, you can probably buy it from someone who can.
Biotech firms in the area are surprisingly plentiful. A couple of them even have online forms. Venom hesitates, then clicks the customer registration link. They get three lines in before the form starts asking for company names and primary investigators and all manner of things for which Venom has no answer. They growl in frustration and retreat back onto Eddie’s head to sulk like a sprouting skullcap of mold.
As they brood over the unhelpful order form page, they notice a small line of text at the bottom of the website.
The second critical thing Venom learns about human civilization: online purchases can’t always compare to a store front.
“Jesus fuck!” The little man in the long white coat, similar to the one Dan wears—only the embroidery on this one reads ‘James Mackenzie, Junior Researcher, Alchemax,’—knocks over his chair and lands ass first on the floor. Venom stands over him, contemplating.
The man’s head whips back and forth. “Oh god I’m seeing shit. They told me not to work alone all night. Gas leak or fucking chemicals or holy fuck what are you?”
“Something from the depths of your nightmares, no doubt.” They bare their full array of teeth. “But I think I can be convinced to spare you, provided you assist me.”
“I require peptides. Thirteen residues, in the following order. Tryptophan, Histidine, Tryptophan, Leucine, Glutamine, Leucine, Lycine, Proline, Glycine, Glutamine, Proline, Methionine, Tyrosine. High quality, fit for human exposure.” They produce a large stack of paper currency, cobbled together from an ATM withdrawal and a mobster they’d eaten on the way over. Well, Venom had eaten. Eddie is still slumbering within the enveloping, protective sack of their mass. “I can pay.”
The man’s eyes bulge. “You—you want to place an order? ”
“Was that not clear?”
“Why in God’s name would you want to do something like that?”
Venom considers this. “Have you ever been in love, Mr. Mackenzie?”
Venom growls in frustration and James’ eyes roll like a terrified horse. “I have someone I love. He sleeps now, but he is always with me. He is small and breakable, but precious. I wish for us to find fulfillment together in a way which would be otherwise impossible. Thirteen residues, Mr. Mackenzie. Are you capable?”
Very slowly, the man picks himself up off the floor of the laboratory. He smells faintly of spilled urine. He looks at Venom, then at the stack of cash, then back at Venom. “We...the company doesn’t really sell to, uh, private citizens.”
“A fact made abundantly clear by your imbecilic online system. I am not asking your company, Mr. Mackenzie, I am asking you.”
The man swallows hard, Adam’s apple bobbing like a cork on stormy seas. He looks at the stack of money again. “I think, uh, I think I can help you out?”
Venom smiles, and the man pisses himself a little more. “Excellent.”
James Mackenzie’s hands shake so badly he can barely load the column and operate the HPLC. They stand in tense silence, the empty laboratory humming with the sound of hibernating machinery. James is mumbling the peptide sequence over and over again to himself, adjusting connections and typing with two fingers on the keyboard. He reeks of fear sweat.
“So,” says James, voice wobbling, after he’s keyed in the last command and checked his work for the fifth time. “This uh, guy, is he your boyfriend?”
“We have not precisely defined us as such, but I suppose that might be the simplest explanation.”
“Right, right,” James keeps his gaze fixed on the computer screen, his knuckles white where he grips the mouse. “Good to have, uh, relationships. How did you guys meet?”
“Through mutual acquaintances.”
Almost as if against his will, James’ eyes slide over to Venom’s reflection in the monitor. “That...so?”
Venom puffs slightly with pride. He is a good man. He brought me out of an untenable situation and welcomed me within him.”
James gives Venom the tiniest of strange looks out of the corner of his eye. “What, you mean, like in his house?”
“Something like that.” Venom feels a small swell of what might be melancholy. Or perhaps indigestion. “He has offered me much. I know that our partnership is not always easy, so I wished to do something for him.”
“So this thirteen residue thing…?”
“Chemical assistance, so we might find fulfillment together in the manner of my kind.”
“I assure you, Mr. Mackenzie, god has nothing to do with it.”
James breaks out in sweat once more. “Um, are you...sure it’s going to work?” His voice squeaks. “I’ve not exactly...synthesized demon Viagra?”
Venom scents the air, then pats him delicately on one shoulder, in the manner in which they have learned to touch furniture without breaking it. “All will be well. I will take my compound and you can decide what you would like to do with your payment.”
James actually gives Venom a shaky smile. “Well, I do have some student loan debt collecting dust.”
At about three in the morning, Venom wanders over to the tiny clean area of the laboratory, and makes James a cup of coffee. James accepts the steaming mug from one massive fist, sips, and stares at it.
“Did you put cinnamon in this?”
“Eddie enjoys it that way. It contains sugar to provide energy, but the creamer in the refrigerator is breeding microbes I understand to be unhealthful for your pitiful, human immune systems. You should discard it.”
“Oh my god,” says James. “You weren’t joking. Fucking coffee. Fucking demon boyfriend. I can’t fucking believe this.”
“You think I would lie?”
“For thirteen peptides worth a grand total of maybe nine hundred dollars commercial? Probably not. You offered me five times that to make the damn things. Still, Jesus.” James runs shaking fingers through his greasy hair. “Eddie, huh? The mysterious guy who likes cinnamon coffee and demon fucking. Hats off, you mad bastard.”
“Eddie has been known to exhibit more courage than sense,” Venom agrees.
James retrieves the tube from the HPLC. “I washed the column and eluted this thing, but I still gotta put it through the lyophilizer. It’s in the back, come on.”
Some time later, James places the delicate plastic tube full of white residue into Venom’s palm. Venom thanks him in the manner they have seen Eddie express gratitude to Mrs. Chen and the person operating the coffee machine at the cafe two streets over.
James gives them another smile, a little less strained. “Good luck, I guess?”
Venom crawls back in the window of their apartment just as the sun is rising. They stash the tube, carefully wrapped in aluminum foil, in the freezer, and return to bed to await the sound of the alarm. They feel strange, bursting with anticipation. Everything in the apartment feels fresh, and they find themselves winding curiously around Eddie’s body, wondering how it will feel to have him, truly have him, delicate and human and beloved, under them, over them, in them.
The alarm on Eddie’s phone rings and he flails awake, groping for the device. Venom snags the phone and shuts it off, and Eddie mumbles a bleary thank you.
“What time is it?” he says, blinking into the brightening morning.
Seven, the time for which you set your alarm.
Eddie groans. “Right, yeah, I just. Feel kind of weird. Like I didn’t sleep right.”
Would you like breakfast?
Eddie smiles. “Are you offering?”
They make an omelet, rich with cheese and ham, and toast a tray of tater tots together. Venom drapes around Eddie like a diaphanous, gelatin shawl, forming and reforming patterns that cross his skin, diving beneath it and riding just above the dermis.
Do you have any responsibilities to attend to today?
Eddie scrapes up the last bite of omelet. “Nope. Sunday today. Nothing to do that can’t wait until tomorrow. Why, did you want to go out?”
I was hoping we might stay in.
“Yeah? Something on Netflix you wanted to see?”
“You want to try baking something? I found that new brownie recipe on Pinterest.”
“I suppose we really could stand to do laundry—”
Eddie, I want to copulate with you.
This shuts Eddie up with remarkable speed. “You, uh, want to, uh…”
I want to have sex. With you.
“I mean, sure, we can but what happened to ‘we can’t’—why now?”
I want to show you something.
Eddie pauses, as if some more rational part of his brain is questioning why the massive fanged alien has suddenly gone from ‘I cannot’ to ‘let’s have sex so I can show you something’. “What...kind of something?”
In the freezer.
“Okay, just for the record, when people bring food in the bedroom it’s usually not —”
Stop being ridiculous and go to the freezer.
Eddie obeys, and Venom feels they should be offended when he mutters, “Oh thank Christ, no heads.” Venom directs his attention to the tube wrapped in foil. Eddie unwraps it like he’s expecting it to explode at any moment, and stares, uncomprehending.
Do you know what this is?
“That’s what the label says,” says Eddie, turning the tube slowly. “WHWLQLKPGQPMY.”
Those are just the IUPAC—Eddie, forget about the label. This is for us. Or for me, rather.
So I can have sex. With you. So we can have sex together.
“Okay,” says Eddie, in a tone that indicates he still has no idea what Venom is talking about. “What does it...do?”
I told you. It lets us have sex. Look, just, there is a bottle of clean water in the fridge. Take it out and add some to the tube.
“I mean, okay,” says Eddie, going to obey. “It’s a magical alien sex-having tube. Where did you get it?”
The tube has nothing to do with it, Eddie. The contents are for sex.
“That doesn’t answer my question! Where did you get it?”
I...bartered for it.
“Using what? And from who? And Christ when?”
Venom deduces that copulation is rapidly being removed from the list of possible directions this morning could go. Last night .
“Wait, I was asleep last night. You went out?”
I met with a contact. He assisted me.
“What, you just walked us into the all-night drug store and told some guy you needed a tube of magic alien sex dust?”
Not the drug store but yes. And would I be asking you to solubilize it if it was sex dust?
“That’s fucking dangerous! What if they called the cops? The government?”
It was fine. He thought I was a demon and did not question me.
“Oh my god.” Eddie clutches at his head and Venom deftly nabs the tube before he can drop it. “You held a guy hostage for alien Viagra. This is a disaster.”
I did not hold him hostage! I paid him quite well for his time. I even made him coffee.
His name is James. He has student loan debt and frightens easily.
Eddie moans, in precisely the opposite manner Venom hoped to have him moaning by this point in time. Venom offers soothing touches along his spine.
All will be well, Eddie. James is fine and even wished us luck. He seemed quite touched by our predicament.
“You told him what the...sex dust was for?”
“Babe, you don’t just tell people shit like that.”
Pleased at the return of the endearment, Venom nuzzles along Eddie’s jawline. He was impressed with your fortitude.
For engaging in carnal relations with me. Venom flicks a tongue out to taste Eddie’s skin. Which we could be doing. Right now. If you want.
“I mean we do look like we’re eight feet tall when we’re us. The mechanics alone…”
Eddie, I would like to have sex with you. Venom holds up the tube meaningfully. I was under the impression you were interested in having sex with me.
Eddie sighs in what Venom suspects, despite having little context, is a very un-sexy way. “I do...I just. This is a bit to take in.”
You used lubricant and condoms to have sex with Anne. And Raymond. And Vanessa. And—
“Yes, yes I get the point. You’ve had front row movie tickets to all the past Eddie Brock Lays.”
How is this any different?
Eddie opens his mouth, and closes it.
We have already established you are attracted to me. I am attracted to you, insofar as I am capable when not actively primed to mate. This is merely a bit of assistance to allow me to physically respond to you. Venom coils with nervousness. I have no issue with the status quo. To bring you pleasure feels pleasant and brings me satisfaction. To feel you achieve climax is enjoyable. But I thought this is something we could share together.
Eddie stares at Venom.
I know what sex is like for you. I wanted to share what it is like for me.
Eddie catches part of Venom’s mass, slides his fingers along it, slow and deliberate. His eyes are tender, in the metaphorical as well as literal sense this time.
“That’s what you feel?” his voice is soft, half-wondering.
You are my match, Eddie. I want to share everything with you.
Eddie kisses Venom gently.
“You shouldn’t hold people hostage for alien Viagra.”
“Where do you want to try this?”
Venom thinks, accessing memories grown dusty with disuse.
The bathtub is an old one, white porcelain over cast iron. Eddie stoppers it and fills it less than halfway with hot water. He strips down and wriggles into the tub.
This, they’ve done before, Venom sliding along and around Eddie’s skin at the interface of air and water. The warmth is alien, but pleasant. Eddie holds up the tube.
“What should I do with this?”
Pour it into the water. I think.
“You think? You don’t drink it or something?”
No. I would usually uptake such compounds by diffusion. They are invitations, not food.
“If you say so.” Eddie pours the contents into the water. The lyophilized peptides are a little lumpy, and he swirls the water with his hand to break up the clumps, rinses the tube. “No weirder than some of the stuff people put on their skin I guess.”
Venom coils around him, waiting. The water enveloping them is awash with free floating chlorine and fluoride, tiny metal particles. They try to relax, to become permeable, to put themselves in the mind state for this.
At first there is nothing and Venom thinks that they have failed and maybe there was an extra leucine in there they forgot to add, but then there is a delicate tingling all along their mass, like fine needles or the prickle of teeth. Oh.
“Hm?” Eddie is stretched in the tub, back against porcelain, eyes half shut. He reaches absently to stroke against Venom’s mass and the sensory response to mechanical touch is like a shout. “You doing okay, babe?”
He starts to withdraw his hand, and Venom snatches at his wrist to hold him in place.
Keep doing that. Please.
They’re a little shocked at the desperate edge to their voice.
Eddie shifts, suddenly wide awake. “Yeah? I can do that.”
He kneads at their mass with firm fingers, a caress that would have once felt pleasantly soothing. Now the input is acute, and Venom bubbles along his skin. The heat is immolating, and Venom senses the familiar internal click, initiation, the beginnings of a cascade. Sensation is at once diffuse and beginning to focus, to concentrate.
They writhe against him, cytoskeleton stretching and firming. The structure pushes against Eddie’s abdomen and he gasps, eyes going wide.
“Holy shit, is that—”
Yes. No. Eddie, just—
Eddie’s legs try to part and he hisses out a curse as his knee bangs hard on the side of the tub. Venom loses control of their appearance, any hope of constructing a facade of facial features collapsing. They probe, blind and burrowing, mass helplessly seeking, searching for a matching phospholipid layer, searching in vain for something permeable.
Except Eddie’s flesh is permeable. At least to them.
The sound that escapes Eddie is high, shocked. He clutches at Venom, eyes staring blindly. “Oh my God. Hang on, slow down—oh, Jesus.”
Venom does, shaking and nearly incapable in the face of the signal cascade screaming through them, the babbling, gibbering well of raw need that feels like it could blot out the sun.
Need to—hurting you?
“No, no, I think it’s okay. Weird but okay. Jesus, where the hell are you?” His fingers probe at where they’re joined, down across the curves of his hip bones to where his abdomen is engulfed, or penetrated. Everything feels inverted and topsy turvy to them both, more mingled than even when they’re one. Eddie’s genitals are lodged somewhere inside Venom and they pull themselves together enough to squeeze, not too hard, trying to stimulate, trying to make this good.
Eddie groans and bucks up into their commingled mass and Venom feels him harden, swelling inside them. It doesn’t feel anything like fucking, like being fucked by, one of Venom’s own, but it’s better, so much better, Eddie whispering soft encouragement and shocked praise as they push in and withdraw in the same motion, ebb and flow. Penetrating him, being penetrated by him, the way none of the human lovers in his bed and in his heart could. Venom already knows the blood-pulse and cracked-bone intimacy of every millimeter of Eddie’s body, but now they know what it is to enter him for pleasure, to touch flesh never meant to be touched by a lover and light up nerves that send signals Eddie’s brain has no idea how to interpret. But Venom feeds him pleasure, their pleasure, translating it back into his body through his cock, the parts of his brain that experience arousal and fulfillment.
Eddie pants against Venom, strokes his hands coaxingly along Venom’s mass, and the paths of his fingers light up with chemiluminescent trails. Crackling, electric blue rippling like lightning across a thunderhead.
“Holy crap. Babe, you’re glowing .” The soft lights dance off the surface of the water, captured by the reflective cocoon of the tub. Venom clings to his flesh, pushes into it, and Eddie moves to meet them. No fear of this desperate, inhuman tangle and Venom feels in that moment that they might burst with strange joy.
Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, wanted to be with you like this touch you like this feel good with you in me in you—ah!
“It’s good, it’s so good, darling, I promise.” Eddie clutches Venom to his chest, fucks up into them, his own excitement surging when Venom responds, pushes back and in with desperate sounds. “There, right there?”
They can’t organize their mass well through the haze of pleasure, but they seek Eddie’s hands, mirroring the structures, long, inhuman claws digging deep to hold them together. The water sloshes, slippery and enveloping and tinged with blood and warm, so warm, like the birth pools of their planet, before the long, cold dark of space.
Eddie moans, low and shaky. “Can you come? Do you come? Can I help you come?”
You are, you are, just keep— And Venom breaks off as Eddie’s fingers sink deep, as their mass thins and shrouds him, going liquid except for that swollen structure, thrusting in as they strain, strive, and together they reach for ecstasy.
Want to come in you, Eddie. Want you to come in me. And Eddie grabs Venom harder, nails hooking into their mass like spicules, holding, pinning, demanding that they take and give.
Venom doesn’t know which of them is coming, had forgotten even what it was like to come, a swollen fruit bursting sensation that leaves them shaking into Eddie’s skin, structures forming and dissolving as they pour themselves out into Eddie, into the tender space inside him, and Eddie sobs and Venom feels him come, the spill of semen, the storm of neurotransmitters and hormones.
Eddie’s gasping out hot breath and Venom tries to gather the overspilled tangle of their thoughts. They’re still sunk half inside Eddie, the unforgiving, rigid extrusion, riddled with mycorrhizal anchors, embedded in his flesh.
Eddie lets out a little, wounded sound as Venom withdraws, fingers splaying across the unmarked skin of his abdomen. “Ah, holy shit.”
Venom coils with discomfort, suddenly exposed and strangely contrite. Sorry, Eddie.
Eddie shakes his head, eyes soft. “No, no sorrys.” He reaches out with curious fingers and Venom wriggles with shock because he’s touching . Touching the rigid, tender structure, feeling the shape and the heft. “This is it what you put inside me?”
It feels good, so good for Eddie to touch, but Venom feels a surge of disconcerted worry. I’m still…
“What? Still hard?” Eddie’s lips quirk in a smile. “You rode me rough, but I’m not exactly complaining. Something wrong?”
I think...the dosing may have been a bit imprecise. They can already feel the upwelling, the demanding, surging hunger. I think—I need...
“It’s okay, babe,” says Eddie. “I think we can work with this.”
Then Eddie curls forward, rising out of the water, and puts his mouth on it, what had been so recently within, lets the structure flower open against his tongue, and Venom can’t think again for a long time.
By the time they crawl out of the tub, Eddie can no long stand.
Venom is a formless, gelatinous shroud and barely manages to cushion Eddie as he drops over the edge and onto the linoleum. They crawl, together, ameboid motion across the floor, gathering dust. Eddie grabs at the edge of the mattress and bodily drags them both onto it. He lies naked on the coverlet, tries to catch his breath.
They’re breathless, speechless. Venom’s mass is undergoing a myriad of confusing chemical cascades as their systems try to understand if spawning initiation is the correct course of action, never mind that the chemo-signal cocktail of Eddie’s semen might as well have been presented in semaphore for all that Venom’s physiology can recognize it.
“Well,” says Eddie, after several quiet minutes. “I certainly haven’t done that since college.”
You’ve never done that at all.
“Au contraire,” says Eddie. “You’ll find that humans are a stupid bunch, who think it’s a great idea to try things like ‘see how many times we can have sex in one day’.” He scrunches towards his pillow. “The answer, if you were curious, is ‘more than we thought’ but it gets progressively less fun.”
“No, babe, it’s okay. It felt good. I may never get hard again, but it felt good.” He turns as if he could face them, even though Venom right now has no face, and couldn’t muster the energy to make one. “And I got to see you like that. You’re beautiful, you know?”
“All lit up, like you’re strung with blue fireflies.” Eddie smiles. “The way you moved, all desperate for me. The sounds you made with my mouth on you.”
“Really, really.” Eddie touches the trailing scraps of their mass still dangling outside his body. “I love you, darling. Thank you for sharing that with me.”
I love you too, Eddie.
Venom musters enough energy to wind themself properly around Eddie, enveloping him, and they rest.
And that, Venom thinks, is, as they say, that. The tube of peptides is empty, and things settle back to normal. They write, they cook and clean their little apartment, they eat criminals and chocolate and live crabs from the market. They have sex, or Eddie does, while Venom embraces him.
Their routine and each other bring them joy. Even if sometimes, when Venom has Eddie on his back, spread open, entering him as his human lovers had, riding the wake of the chemical froth of pleasure, Eddie will unconsciously touch the smooth skin of his abdomen and make a soft, strangely wounded sound that leaves Venom thinking up late, long after Eddie has climaxed and fallen asleep.
And then, one day, Eddie goes in for an interview.
“Liz Allan,” he says, as he dons his motorcycle helmet and turns on the bike. “She sounds like a real asshole, but I guess everyone sounds like an asshole by email.”
Traffic is lighter than expected and they arrive about twenty minutes earlier than planned. Ms. Allan is the type that schedules down to the second, so Eddie is shunted off into the employee break room by her secretary, who offers to make him a cup of coffee.“Cream? Sugar?” she asks.
“Both I guess?” Eddie scratches at his collarbone. “Maybe cinnamon if you got it?”
On the other side of the break room, a young man in khakis and a button down spits coffee across the Formica table. The secretary jumps and Eddie turns, startled. The man’s looking straight at him, shirt soaked in coffee, his face red with shock.
“Oh, shit ,” says the young man, frantically groping in the direction of the paper towel machine. He yanks out two thin towels before it goes empty.
The secretary sighs. “Honestly,” she says. “I’ll be right back, Mr. Brock.”
She exits the break room and the man stares at Eddie with a hunted expression. “You’re,” he says. “You’re Eddie.”
He doesn’t say “you’re Eddie Brock, that one reporter”, just “you’re Eddie’, and there’s something about the way he says it, that makes the knowledge click.
“Oh, fuck ,” Eddie blurts. “You’re James.”
James head whips in the direction of the door, then looks at Eddie with a frantic expression. “P-please tell your boyfriend to not eat me,” he whispers.
Tell him he is too stringy to be delicious.
Eddie blanches. “Uh, nobody’s eating anybody. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.”
“So, so it worked then?”
You can tell him that his god would have been suitably outraged.
Eddie feels himself go red. “Yeah it, uh, really good. Perfect.”
James looks relieved. Before Eddie can say anything else, the secretary bustles into the room with a refill pack of paper towels.
“Ms. Allan will see you now,” she says, as she hands the paper towels to James. “Follow me.”
“Thanks,” says Eddie. He turns awkwardly towards James and offers a little two fingered salute. “And thanks man,” he says, dying a little inside, but good work is good work. “I mean it.”
James offers him a watery smile and Eddie tries to look like he’s not fleeing the room.
“You,” says Eddie under his breath. “Are an asshole.”
He realizes too late that the secretary is looking at him, the pinched edges of her mouth indicating she damn well heard him.
And yet only one of us has come out of this looking like an asshole.
Eddie scowls into their reflection in the glass elevator.
The interview with Liz Allan is an exercise in torture. She clearly thinks he’s a meatheaded dumbass, but she answers his questions and he takes copious notes.
“I don’t know why I bother,” she says, when he’s put away his notepad. “Most people aren’t going to care about this, and those that do will have already made up their minds.”
Eddie shrugs. “Still worth trying, I find. People change.”
The look she gives him is unimpressed. Taking that as his cue, he lifts his little notepad in acknowledgment. “Thanks very much, Ms. Allan.”
To their collective surprise, James is waiting for them in the lobby. He still looks nervous, his shirt stained with coffee, but his mouth is set.
“Can I talk with you a minute?” he says.
“Sure,” says Eddie weakly. “Maybe not here?” Inviting James anywhere feels unavoidably sinister. “Out—side?”
“Sure.” The street is bustling with pedestrians, but they lurk close to the floor to ceiling glass walls of the office. “Um,” says James, looking a little lost. “I wanted to tell you, that I did some research on the compound your...boyfriend had me make.”
Eddie blinks, and Venom coils up within him, both of them suddenly intent.
“I don’t know what I expected, exactly,” says James. “Maybe it was a way to keep from losing my mind. I didn’t expect to find anything but…”
“I found a match. Closest damn homolog I’ve ever seen. Thirteen peptides, in that order even.”
“What, you mean like a chemical that’s exactly the same as the uh…”
James nods. “It’s...well it’s a...pheromone I guess you could call it. Produced by yeast.”
“Yeast? What do you mean?”
“Like bread yeast?” James waves his hands as though shaking a sugar packet. “Like the stuff you buy for making dough rise? That yeast. When it reproduces with other yeast it makes that stuff.”
Eddie stares at him.
James goes a bit red. “I’m just telling you what the chemical formula says.” He fiddles with the end of his shirt. “I just thought you might like to know, if you wanted to try and uh, I don’t know. Bread yeast is pretty cheap.”
“...are you suggesting that we…”
“Not suggesting anything!” James voice goes a bit high and panicked. “I’m just telling you what it is. I gotta get back to work.”
He scurries for the door, leaving them standing awkwardly on the street.
There is a profound and pregnant silence.
“I’m on it.”
Eddie sinks their entwined fingers deep into the ball of dough and Venom nearly swoons. They rub their extruded head ardently again the faint stubble on Eddie’s cheek. He laughs and kisses them.
Excellent, Eddie. Most excellent.
Over the months, their home has become populated with these marvelous little creatures, invisible to Eddie’s eyes of course, but not to Venom’s senses. It’s not like the delightful but exhausting sojourn in the bathtub, or even the overwhelming and often dangerous act of coupling with another of Venom’s kind. Merely occupying their home provides a low grade stimulus that, with a bit of encouragement—often in the form of Eddie and his tender kisses—can cross threshold and blossom into arousal. Copulation is no longer an all or nothing act. And the realization of something Venom has never before been cognizant, the possibility of choosing to initiate—or not initiate—whenever they, or Eddie, please, brings them a profound and intense sensation of relief.
Eddie wraps up the dough and puts it in their little oven to rise. He’s aroused too, if only somewhat, half hard in his pants, and Venom coils under his boxers to touch him. Eddie grips the floured countertop and pushes into Venom’s grip, then back against the thick layer of them across the small of his back.
Venom relaxes into the sensation, lets cytoskeletal structures rise and form. They penetrate Eddie, right above his spine, mycorrhizal threads entwining with nerve tissue, linking with motor relays. Rootlike tendrils wind through his own reproductive structures and he arches.
“I’m good, I’m good, babe,” Eddie’s breath hitches. “Right there, that’s good.” He turns his head, seeking. “Kiss me?”
Venom obeys, folds around Eddie’s body from without and within. They drape around his shoulders, wind a trailing, amorphous hand around one of his wrists, anchoring the two of them in place. They kiss him, feel the prick of fragile, human skin on teeth, taste blood as he sucks on their tongue. They press some of their mass against his abdomen, flashing small, luminescent invitations. In me.
He pushes against Venom and they feel him slip inside. They stroke his hair and savor the sensation.
So much, Eddie.
Later, when they’re half-dozing amid the nest of sheets, Venom curled around Eddie’s pleural sac so they can feel him breathe, Eddie’s phone chimes.
It’s a text, from Anne. A photo, of a basket of bread loaves and rolls, sitting on the stoop of her little condo. There’s a sequence of question marks under it.
“Since when do you bake???”
Eddie chokes on a laugh and Venom shimmers with amusement.
“Does Dan like them?”
“Of course he likes them but what the hell?”
“They’re just a gift, Annie, relax. It’s good to learn new things.”
“The hell it is. You tried that beer making kit your mom got you for Christmas and nearly blew a hole in the roof.”
“I just hadn’t found the match for my skills I guess.”
“Later, Annie. Enjoy the rolls.”
Eddie chuckles and tucks the phone away. “God, that was so worth it.”
We really should send James a bread basket too.
“Sure thing, babe,” Eddie says, grinning. “Whatever you want.”