The conclusion to our ridiculous duos' long and arduous journey back towards their personal semblance of 'normal'. Here's hoping they make it!

At the end of the day, Venom was pleased to find that he hadn't died and that the ultrasound hadn't threatened to rip him apart on an atomic level. Eddie'd even gotten a lollipop out of the whole debacle. Though Venom was pretty sure that was just Dan taking pity on the hapless survivor. What with that dejected look Eddie couldn't wipe off their face. After hearing the extent of the soft tissue damage. And that they needed to wear the stupid sling at least three weeks. And pretend to take the physical therapy their personal physician was prescribing. For the cover-up.

At least, to Venom's happy surprise, the 'imaging process' had merely tickled. And Anne was making some 'real headway' in her objective of having the multiple wrongful deaths case against them thrown out before it ever made it to trial. Stating she was 'surprised it was taking this long' and that they should all 'err on the side of caution till it was'. Thrown out.

So it turned out that Dan was about as good at his job as Anne was at hers. Which is to say, now there were two humans to which Venom would trust his life. And Eddie's.

Meantime, the two of them were free to fly their freak flag; doing all the things that any host-symbiote pair back home from a time away would. Like eating as many scumbags as they could stomach. Soon as the media spotlight turned its burning, inquiring gaze onto the next juicy story and stopped following them to the convenience store anyway.

Well, to be fair, that had only happened the once. And Anne had hit the schmuck with a restraining order before Eddie'd even shambled them back up the stairs home.
Or she'd threatened to convincingly enough to get it to stop. Either way: a human after Venom's black, imaginary little heart.

So they ended up only being low-key stalked by approximately four reporters. Who all knew better than to make any efforts towards direct engagement. Unless they wanted 'The Lawyer' coming down on them.

A few un-newsworthy days later and Venom was pretty sure their stalkers had dropped off their tail, one by one, like flies, when they'd seen from afar that 'Mr. Brock' was just doing regular old, boring human things.
In fact, the last parasite had disengaged about the time they'd picked up Eddie's prescription refill at the rundown corner store pharmacy near their place.

Just to be on the safe side, the symbiote reminded Eddie to at least read some of the instructions while they stopped in next door and ate a heaping cup of Nutella frozen yogurt. So they looked like normal folks. Folk? Eh.

Since the instructions pointed out that they were due another anti-inflammatory, Venom nodded as his human popped one in their mouth and downed it along with a generous spoonful of frozen, creamy, hazelnutty delight.
Now they looked normal.

As he watched the tablet's progress down their gullet and into their bile and icy yogurt filled stomach, Venom kept his feelings concerning the thing to himself. Both the resentment, and the thankfulness. For, though he was glad the Dan doctor was able to keep Eddie comfortable with his 'medications', the symbiote hated the constant reminder of his own, situationally imposed impotency. And what it made him think about. The memories that it turned out were hard to ignore when the lights were out and it was time to sleep for the night. Swirling, whirling thoughts and memories of how useless he'd felt for so long. Out in that forest.

Instead, he let the stupid pill do its thing and focused on the pleasing taste of their frozen confection. Wishing he could lick the cup out when their spoon couldn't dredge up the dregs.
Unfortunately, the film of deliciousness stayed at the bottom of their cup as it was tossed in a garbage receptacle. But Venom did his best not to pout about it as Eddie assured him they'd done the right, normal looking thing. And that he was pretty sure the day old bread was on the bakery shelf by then.

Venom snickered privately as they started off for the only place in town that didn't either donate or throw out their expired pastries. Eddie was just out of it enough that he bet he could sneak two baguettes if he put his mind to it.
Those ducks had no idea what was coming for them.

Venom hid his laughter when the cashier didn't notice the nearly three foot long paper wrapped contraband he'd sneaked up the back of his host's jacket.
He did laugh when he realized Eddie hadn't either. Until they reached the park. And it fell out. And rolled down a hill.

Eddie was so impressed he didn't even try to impress upon Venom the inherent 'naughtiness' of stealing expired goods from a small business. Just picked it up and walked them and their well earned loot over to their favorite target practice spot.

It was just as much fun as Venom remembered. Even with a tired body and only one good arm.

As the last of the stale brick bread disappeared along with the duck they'd bullseyed, they heard a shout of "Mr. Brock?!", from somewhere not so far behind them. In stereo.
Worse? They recognized those annoying voices.

Uh-oh. Venom commented. Knowing he could handle the situation if things went south.

"Behave, Venom," Eddie begged as he turned them away from the pond to face their accusers.

Yep. It was those turd for brains park patrollers. The ones who had no idea how lucky they were to not already be eaten and gone from their lowly, annoying stations.

As the nitwits came closer, Eddie forced their body to not crouch as if on a hunt, and instead attempted to slip a friendly face in place. Which didn't work. For obvious reasons.
"Hi, uh, officers." The words said more in question than in greeting. "If this is about the baguettes-"

We already threw them. Venom cut in as he shut their mouth. Not about to let Eddie make excuses for their behavior. Not to those clowns anyway.

"No, no, that is like, literally water under the bridge," said the first tasty morsel. Hands where they could see them.

"Yeah, Mr. Brock, we are just so- we're just glad that you came home safe," said the second in a... thankful tone? What?

"Yeah, it's good to have you back. You're a pillar of the community."

Okay. Now Venom was just confused. And had most likely been cheated out of an easy, justified meal.

"Uh, what now?" Eddie asked of the bright faced weirdos. Voicing the understatement of the week.

"Oh, we noticed you didn't come by on your normal day to terrorize- uh, feed the ducks," snack number one explained. Surprising both Venom and Eddie.
Until Venom realized why.

Because these two had a sting organized to take us down. Eddie nodded in agreement at his symbiote's excellent problem solving.

"Then, we saw the story on tv. That you'd gone down in a plane crash and..."

"We prayed for you." Added snack number two.

"And called to try and donate to the search efforts, but the phone bank was too busy." Said One. With a somber look.

"But then they found you! And your lawyer got you home, safe and sound!"

"And her dreamy fiancé slash doctor drove you to the hospital and-" Two bumped One in the ribs and the embarrassing story came to an abrupt end.

"Like we said, we're glad you're back, Mr. Brock." Two said. In a tone that didn't sound like lying.

"Uh... thanks?" Said the guy who'd just gotten away with the heinous act of playing target practice with the park's precious water fowl. Scott free.

"Well, you have a lovely day, Mr. Brock. Enjoy the park!" One yelled. Excitedly.

And with that, Tweedledee and Tweedledumb were off. Probably to write someone a formal reprimand for putting a bottle in the wrong trash receptacle.
Losers.

Figuring their good luck wasn't likely to hold out that much longer, Eddie pointed them in the direction of the closest exit and started moving. Before the weirdos came back and decided they needed to make a citizen's arrest. Or worse: get their autograph.

"Hey, Eddie! Great to see ya back, pal!" Said some schmuck who occasionally shoulder checked them as he ran circles around the park. This time dodging them handily. Not even breaking stride. Nor sounding the least bit winded.

"Yeah, uh, you too," came Eddie's hapless reply. Accompanied by a wave. Which Venom turned into a nice little one finger salute. Just a half moment late for the jogger to catch.
Damn.

"C'mon, Venom," said the wet blanket as he fisted up their hand. Having to try to get it back down by their side. Seeing as the symbiote was disappointed no one else had seen. "There are children here, bud. We gotta keep it PG."

I don't see any 'children'. Venom said as he directed their gaze for the deserted play equipment. Besides, we need to act out more. Otherwise we'll get old and boring.

"What?" Asked his clueless partner in petty misdemeanors.

We'll end up like that sad woman in the movie Anne made us watch last night. Feeding pigeons. For 'tuppence a bag'.

"Man, you picked it and it's called Mary Poppins."

The nanny's voice was quite pleasing; the chimney sweep's accent was hideous.

"Yeah, that's why they call it a Dick Van Dyke." Eddie said as he started them moving again.

What? Venom asked as he let him.

"A bad accent? Dick Van Dyke played the chimney sweep, so they named bad accents after him."

Then is beautiful singing called a 'Julie Andrews'? Venom scoffed when he felt surprise at his question. I read the credits. When they have something interesting to say. Venom defended.

"Uh-huh. Hey, why're you always picking the oldies when we have movie night, huh? There's plenty good stuff made post nineteen-sixty." Eddie asked. Pure curiosity.

...I enjoy learning your Earth history. Venom admitted. Not suddenly feeling self conscious.

"Oh, in that case, I gotta introduce you to the history channel." Eddie said with a little bounce to their step as he walked them around a bend in the barely cragged sidewalk.

You have been concealing from me a channel devoted to history? Venom asked. Feeling just a little betrayed.

"If I'd'a known you were interested, I would've shown it to you before." The human said in a guileless, earnest tone. One Venom couldn't growl at him for. Especially not when his host winced as an uneven edge in the concrete jarred their gait.
Stupid sidewalk.

...How's the shoulder? He asked. Knowing Eddie wouldn't take the sudden change of subject as a brush off.

"Eh, can't complain." The human lied as he wound them through a bench lined breezeway. "Be better after that one week check back."

Dan better not try to delay any longer. We might have to eat him if he tries.

"Hey, no, Dan is our friend. Remember what we decided about friends?" Came the pejorative statement then question combo grown humans generally reserved for use on misbehaving children. Or dogs.

...We don't eat them. Venom recited. From memory.

"We don't eat them...?" Eddie said in a 'you're not done yet, mister' sort of way.

Ever.

"Right. Besides, Anne and Dan said, after this, we're Scott free."

Right. Free to continue acting for the sake of others like we're weak, pathetic, and injured. Good way to attract bad things. Venom pointed out with a pout.

"Well, aren't we all about 'bad things'?" The human said in a hinting sort of way.

After a few moment's thought, Venom tugged them to a stop and pointed their eyes off to one side, right outside the park, thinking he'd caught sight of a miscreant thumbing open and closed a pocketknife in the shadowed recesses of a nearby back alley.
Then, with a rumble, the symbiote posed a helpful suggestion. Perhaps, being as 'weak' and 'injured' as we clearly are, we should take this rat infested, poorly lighted alley as a shortcut home?

"Hungry?" Asked his intuitive human.

Starving.

With a chuckle, Eddie pointed them down the dingy, darkened alley and stepped them into the gloom. Affecting a meek posture as he hunched to favor their left side in a way that would make both their physician and lawyer cringe.

You've changed. Venom couldn't help but venture. You're starting to commit to the part. You're starting to enjoy our outings. The symbiote accused. Tone just a shade off from proud.

"That's why you love me." Eddie whispered. A smirk twitching their lips.

That's why you love me. Venom said with a happy growl. A second before someone with a Cajun accent, brandishing a slick, shiny switchblade, stepped at them from the shadows. Demanding they choose:

"Your money or your life?" Said in a way that made it sound like he was lying about the 'or' part.

"How 'bout your life?" They rebutted. Shedding their meek exterior in a blink. In favor of one more befitting the situation. Chuckling perfectly in sync when the sight of their symbiote half coming out to play made the pipsqueak drop the knife. And wet himself.

Things got real fun though when the ignoramus thought throwing his burnt out cigarette at them and dashing off in the opposite direction was gonna help him. At all.

"Craving French?" Venom asked. Feeling rather tentative as he took their first full length step in so long.

'You aren't?' Eddie breezed back.

"I asked you." The symbiote argued. Enjoying the way his voice rumbled in the open air.

'In that case: Bon appétit, mon chéri.'
Venom rumbled as the endearment made his cells glow.

"You always know just what to say." The symbiote admitted with a chuckle. Then he set their sights on a retreating leather jacketed back, bunched their body into a true hunting configuration, mindful of their hidden and protected yet still injured shoulder, and growled. Loudly.

Venom loved the way that made the reprobate yelp as he tripped over his own feet in the gloom. Loved the way the maggot kept glancing back at them over his shoulder as he went down a second and a third time. Loved it almost as much as he loved the feeling of his generous host being hosted for a change. The feeling of being in full, uncontested control of their hunt; of them working together again. Properly. Out in the cool, putrid, alley air. Belly full of frozen yogurt, unnecessary medications, and anticipation.
The promise of victory close at hand pushing him to move them just that last predatory bit faster.

They were close enough to touch the frantic thug when, in an impressive show of dexterity, he tripped over what appeared to be a dead rodent.
Sounding like the cretin had managed to twist something that time, they weren't surprised when the meal couldn't get back up. Though, not for lack of swear filled trying.

One more futile attempt and the wriggly criminal twisted to flop back down on his behind instead. Looking like he was searching the gloom of the middle distance for what his hindbrain knew was coming. Obviously oblivious of what was mere feet in front his face.
"Who are you?!" Shouted the slinking creep.

In the mood for a little theatricality, Venom flexed their impressive thorax just enough that the light of a lone, flickering bulb made their rippling musculature shine.
Now he could see them. And the expression was priceless.

Salivating at the promise of food, they scooped the jerk up by the lapel and savored the scent of fear as they pulled a growl from somewhere close to their thrumming, pumping heart.

When they could feel dinner's fragile spine quake, they opened their razor wreathed maw to give their meal a quick foretaste; tongue catching not unpleasantly on the several day stubble it found on the whimpering, pathetic face.

Then, staring into the eyes of someone who would happily have left them in a back alley to die of blood loss, they offered the chance for a few last words.

"W-what- what are you?" Whimpered the idiot who'd made the last mistake of his life when he threatened to shank them for cash.

The question made them smile

"We are Venom." They pronounced, loud and proud enough for the entire alley to hear, as their teeth began to drip with saliva.

Then they opened wide and let themselves enjoy as the screams of someone who knew he was staring his own immortality in the gullet echoed around in their throat, then got trapped inside along with the rest of the tasty criminal when their mouth closed with a satisfying click.

Followed closely by a gut rumbling, satisfying burp that broke from their throat and bounced around the unsanitary space.

"Excuse us."

'Our compliments to the chef.'

Venom gave a chuckle and straightened their back to bring them well above their customary human height of under six foot as they began a leisurely walk down the literally rat infested alley.
Realizing Eddie wasn't insisting to be 'let out' now that they'd had their exotic meal, Venom smiled and let the warm hope that his human might just trust him with their reputation put a little spring in their step.

Yeah, he thought as he kicked a large, leaking bag of trash out of their way, unlike that sorry sack they'd just made a filling meal of, the two of them were going to be all right. So long as they had each other.

After all, they'd survived the gunrunner and her trigger happy bodyguards. Survived the exploding plane crash. Survived the starvation and the squirrels and the nights spent sleeping on the ground. Survived the crippling injuries and the days spent starved into utter uselessness.
Then they'd survived the rescue and the media circus and the pretending to be normal long enough to lose their remaining stalkers.

They'd survived it all and they were going to get over not being able to sleep at night. And those dreams about falling off cliffs. And that horrible thrill of terror that hit them anytime they realized they were hungry. Before they could remember they weren't in that damn forest anymore. Or the fact that, even if the whole, terrible, terrible thing happened again, they'd survive that too.

They were going to be fine- no, better than fine. They were going to be perfect. Because... because Eddie forgave him for being the most useless loser of a symbiote to ever take a host and for getting them lost in the first place.
And because he'd- Because Eddie'd said it. More than once. Eddie'd said 'Love you, Venom,' and Venom had said it back. But the other way around- And they'd meant it. They both meant it and that meant they were unstoppable.

At least, that's what all the movies said. That love made you stronger and helped folks overcome all kinds of impossible odds. And considering what kind of hell they'd overcome and how much Venom loved his soft, squishy, pathetic human, he'd be surprised if they weren't completely unkillable. In fact-

'Hey, Venom?' That voice he usually heard from outside their head, tentative as it was, only made Venom surer: He loved his tiny, caring, perfect, wreck of a journalist.

"Yes, Eddie?"

'...I can hear everything you're thinking right now.'

"...Shit." The word unable to encompass just how... shit things had just dipped.

'It's actually kinda cool. I think I'm starting to understand how the whole "you know everything I know" thing works. I'm literally inside your head, so-'

"Out!" Venom demanded as he promised himself that he wasn't blushing. Nor absolutely primed to keel over out of sheer, biting, embarrassment. "Get out of my head now! Those are private thought-"

'Huh, don't like it so much when the tables are turned? Well, maybe I'll just stick around for a little while. See what else I can hear-'

"I said 'out' and I mean ou-"

'Uh, yeah, I don't really go "out", bud. It's more like you go "in".'

Damn. The human had a point. So without further grousing, Venom regressed back to his favorite place inside his favorite human. Where he set his mind to forgetting what kind of ridiculous fool he'd made of himself. Twice in a row, no less.

The once again human sighed as his skin met the cooling, early evening air and Venom gave him a moment to get his bearings before he nudged him to continue them down the passage.

"Just so you know, you're right, Venom." Eddie said. Apropos of nothing.

? All Venom could think in response.

"We are going to be perfect." Eddie said as he stepped them out of the ridiculously long and disgusting alley. Onto a perfectly pleasant sidewalk amazingly not jammed to burst with pedestrians.
"And I absolutely do."

? The human was being obtuse on purpose, wasn't he? Venom hated it when he did-

"Love you, that is, Venom."

Oh. Heh, never mind. Turned out, Venom didn't hate it when he did that.

"What say we go home? Check out the History channel and veg out for the rest of the night? Digest to some good tv?"

Venom rumbled at the well thought out plan. Until he thought up something that could make the night a real success. Can we pick up Tater Tots on the way back?

"For you, Love, anything."

Venom didn't have anything to say in the face of that. Not anything that he hadn't already, basically, said. So instead, he kept his blush private and just enjoyed the absolutely fluorescent glow he suddenly couldn't smother.

Yeah, they were going to be fine alright, he thought as they walked through the door to Mrs. Chen's convenience store.

Just fine.

I've been told that Eddie calls Venom 'Love' in some of the comics. So... yeah. ;D

I hope that was a sweet ending to this bitter battle for survival, self-discovery, and forgiveness.
Thanks for sticking it out and feel free to let me know whether everyone had as much fun with this story as this ridiculous author did! :D Peace!