Enjoy the Silence
The first thing he noticed was his splitting headache. It crawled down to the back of his neck, making him cautious of trying to sit up. He decided to keep still until it subsided.
Next, he noticed the hand on his cheek. Softly caressing, pressing against the exact places he wanted it to at the precise time he wanted it to. Almost as if it was his own.
Then he realized – his hands were down by his sides. And the one touching him wasn't even human.
Peter Parker jolted up – headache forgotten – as the hand-like tentacles of the Symbiote recoiled back. It appeared to him the same way it had the first time – a dark replica of Spider-Man. The alien tilted its head slightly, giving him an almost confused look. If it could manage expression…
He stood his ground, making a stance to… fight, he supposed. His memory was foggy, what had just happened? Was he battling Venom? Yes, yes that seemed right… it had to be, why else would the Symbiote be here?
Where even was 'here'…
Peter Parker looked into the blankness around him. The mute colors and overall lack of scenery indicated that they were once again trapped in his own mind.
He inhaled deeply. Confused as he felt, Peter wasn't afraid. He knew how to handle the Symbiote, how to get rid of it. Question remained, however, what had become of Eddie? Why was the Symbiote attached to Peter again?
"We know what you're thinking about, Peter Parker…" it said calmly. The alien rested several feet away from him, on a spider web, just like before. "We'd be happy to inform you of our plans, if you promise to behave…"
"Oh, please!" Peter retorted, not quite sure if he was really as confident as he was coming off. "Haven't I already defeated you like, twice now? And that's not including all the times I've kicked your butt as Venom!"
"You want to know where Eddie Brock is."
Peter stopped at that.
The Symbiote continued to stare at him inquisitively before it went on. "Trust us, that isn't a minor detail you want to overlook… but he's not in harm's way. At least for now."
"What did you do to him?" He demanded. "Why would you endanger your human host, isn't that counterproductive?"
The alien stepped off the web, standing up and continuing to gaze out at Peter.
"To talk to you."
He thought he was confused before… this was right up there with the kiss from Gwen in terms of perplexing situations. The Symbiote just wanted to… talk? No way. This was a trap, this was so obviously a trap. Peter had to find Eddie and get out.
"Of course we just want to talk…"
Could the Symbiote read his direct thoughts? Or was it just guessing based on his facial expressions and how well it knew him? Given that they were inside his mind – or so he had assumed – Peter was betting more on the first. That wasn't comforting, though…
And was the Symbiote getting closer?
"After all the times we've helped you, is it so hard to believe we want to make peace? We arranged this because we knew there'd be no other way to speak with you… face to face…"
Peter stepped back a bit. "Whoa – 'helped'? My memory's a little messed up at the moment, but I definitely recall you trying to destroy me on multiple occasions!"
It tilted its head more, almost at an inhuman angle. It looked more like a puppet whose strings had just been cut. "If we remember correctly, you were the first to strike at us."
"Oh yeah, finger-pointing, that's real mature – "
"Who was it that enhanced your powers?" Its voice was significantly louder as it became more frustrated. "Helped clear your name from Chameleon, saved you from the Sinister Six?"
Peter had a retort. He had about a thousand retorts on why the Symbiote's logic was sick and twisted. But it was a waste of time. None of this helped him get out, or find his friend.
So he swallowed it down, and demanded. "Where is Eddie?"
"You were the one we always wanted." It continued, as if it hadn't heard him, or just didn't care that he had switched subjects. "You know that. He knows it, too…"
The Symbiote stepped forward and shrank into the floor, disappearing from sight.
Peter glanced around, searching. All too quickly, the Symbiote reassembled itself behind him. Not about to strike, it was just… standing there, waiting for him to acknowledge its presence.
"You don't know what it's like to watch you fly around… such wasted potential. Potential that we had tried to take advantage of. Our failure." Its masked eyes narrowed, as if it were trying to give him an angered expression. Then its attitude changed. Something in its voice sounded almost playful. "Or maybe… you do understand. Maybe it's the same disappointment you feel whenever you see ussss fly around with your… bro."
Peter felt his hands clench into fists at that last word.
"Where is h-he?" He felt himself slip. Not out of fear for what the Symbiote could do to him, but what it had possibly done to Eddie.
That one slip, however, caused the Symbiote's face to light up. For a moment, then it tensed, fixating on him even more than before. Peter was once again reminded of just how near it was…
"Come closer…" it whispered.
At the sight of its hand starting to rise, Peter bolted. He didn't exactly know why – he had defeated the Symbiote before. But that was with total confidence, and now he was feeling only confusion.
His instincts told him to get away.
After only a few steps, though, he felt the Symbiote wrap its arms around his body, clenching onto him with its stretched-out hands, coiling him up like snakes. It brought itself over, spinning him around and pressing into his chest as its tentacles continued to ensnare him.
"It's been so long… so long…"
He heard something rip, and it took him a moment to realize it was the alien's face. In the middle of its jaw was a large tear, like some kind of impression of a mouth. Its torn up lips sealed against his. The coils still persisted in wrapping around him as the Symbiote went on with the kiss.
Peter panicked, and reached out to grab it. The alien resisted, trying to keep his arms down, but he managed to get his hands around its neck, throwing it off. It kept its arms around him, stretching them out, but as soon as its body hit the ground, something shattered.
Not from the Symbiote itself, but the walls around them. The walls made out of nothing – broke.
Peter wasn't going to question it – if they were in his mind, then his subconscious must have created an out for him. The important thing was that the glass had produced sound vibrations, causing the Symbiote to flinch and recoil, allowing Peter the opportunity to get away.
There really wasn't any point in running – the Symbiote would catch up momentarily – but he did it anyway. He wasn't going to find Eddie by sticking around.
It obviously wasn't interested in talking.
He wiped his lips against the back of his hand, as if it would change what had just happened. That monster was such a liar…
Peter decided the best thing to do now would be to try and wake himself up. See where he was, remember what had gone on – figure out what it had done with Eddie.
A jump, or a shock, just might be able to stir him out of dreaming. As he thought this, he noticed that the ground beneath him became rock solid. To his side, what had once been nothing had transformed into a cliff edge.
He walked up to it, preparing to leap off, when out of the corner of his eye, he saw him.
Wandering around aimlessly in the darkness was Eddie Brock.
Peter rubbed at his eyes, making sure he wasn't just seeing things. He turned and called out.
"Eddie! Bro, I'm up here!" Eddie continued to walk away from him, not even spinning around to glance up. Had he not heard him? Or was he giving the cold shoulder?
Not wanting to waste anymore time, Peter bolted, the cliff now gaining a sort of stairway to the bottom. Jumping would be quicker, but there still was a chance it'd wake him up, and he would lose Eddie.
Assuming it even was Eddie…
He stopped running. How did he know that wasn't just a fragment of his own memory?
"That's the real him, Peter Parker." He didn't turn. That would mean he'd have to look at it. The Symbiote wasn't going to leave one way or another, so why bother giving it that much? At least he finally got it answering questions.
The surroundings started to shift again. Peter found himself at the bottom of the cliff now, Eddie much closer than before. The Symbiote remained behind him.
"Well, physically he's right where we left him, but that is his subconscious. You could say we're… saving him for later…"
Right where it left him…?
The fight… Venom… suddenly losing control… the Symbiote attaching the two of them together….
"You're catching on." It praised in a mocking tone. "Let's fill you in on the rest – as you've already guessed, we are indeed buried deep within your own memories… in your own mind. But that's not all – we're also in the combined subconscious of Eddie Brock."
Peter looked out towards his friend. He seemed so… lost. But he must've been here before, right? That was how the Symbiote communicated with its hosts. He was probably looking for it right now. Wandering desperately around in his own mind, trying to figure out where his partner had gone.
He didn't know why, but Peter suddenly felt a twinge of guilt. He had the Symbiote's attention, something he truly did not want, but Eddie did. The alien was bad news for both of them, but still… he couldn't believe that it would just use Eddie like that.
Actually, yes, he could. He felt guilty all the same, though.
"So, if one of us wakes up – "
"The other will be lost in here with us until our say-so."
He sprinted off once more, after Eddie. If the two of them managed to wake up at the same time, maybe there was a chance that they could both escape the Symbiote.
"We wouldn't do that, if we were still you…"
He ignored the Symbiote and continued running. Sure, it was going to be difficult to convince Eddie to leave – Peter had already tried and failed – but he had to confront him. The shot was worth taking, at least, and it was better than allowing his friend to continue walking around confused in nothingness.
Peter reached out his arm as he drew in.
He went to tap against Eddie's shoulder, and his hand slipped right through.
"What…?" Peter looked back up, and saw that Eddie was still walking around, completely unaffected by his actions.
"We told you." The Symbiote was now hovering at his side, arms wrapped loosely around his shoulders. "This is the combination of both your minds, but the only connection between the two of you is us. He will acknowledge you when we allow it. Just as we allowed you to see him."
Peter watched as Eddie wandered too far and disappeared into the darkness.
None of this made sense. If this was both of their brains, why did the Symbiote appear as Spider-Man? The last time Peter had encountered it, the thing had been an overgrown earthworm. Was its grip tightening on him again, or… was this how Eddie saw it…?
Walls grew from the floor, incasing them in an uncomfortably tight room. Though it probably just felt that way because of the Symbiote's increasingly firm hold on him. He could feel its chin resting against the crook of his neck.
"If you're willing to cooperate, we can have our little… chat."
Peter smacked at it, but failed to get the alien off. "I'm not giving up. I will find a way out of this!"
"Maybe, but your fate isn't the only one at stake here. Even if you do manage to reject us again, will Eddie be able to? You know you can't reach out to him, Peter Parker. He loves us too much."
Peter broke free of its grip, turning around, finally facing it and pressed his back against one of the walls.
"And what use can I be to him if I'm trapped also?"
The Symbiote stopped hovering, crossed its arms, and inched over.
"Are you sure helping Eddie is your biggest concern? Or just your own escape from us?"
"I've gotten you off of Eddie before and I'll do it again. Over and over. Until I've finally destroyed you for good!" Peter felt his confidence returning. Memory or no memory, extreme confusion or not, he knew what he had to do, and the consequences should he fail.
The Symbiote was now in his face.
"I think we've proven that we're not easy to get rid off."
"I think I've proven that I'm dumb enough to keep trying."
It went silent. Peter let the smallest smirk creep over his face. The Symbiote started to shake. Uncrossing its arms, its hands were now fists.
Before Peter had a chance to react, it punched him hard in the stomach. Then grabbing onto him, it stretched out its body and pulled him up high in the air, back still pressed against the never-ending walls.
"You don't even get it… you fool!" It snarled. The alien grabbed Peter's face, forcing him to look at it, and then rested its other hand around his neck.
Had they not been inside his mind, Peter would've felt like he was choking.
"We take on the interest of our hosts. We become them. It's not as though attaching to just anyone will satisfy us… and as you've said, we feed off of negative emotion. And you don't even know how much your presence eats away at ussss… how much it eats away at Eddie…"
"What do you mean by that?"
Its grip softened, just a tad, and it began to caress the side of his face. He could feel traces of its ooze cling to his skin and hair with each stroke.
"You're so naive. You couldn't even figure out your own feelings towards Gwen until we helped you. Why would we ever think you were capable of reading someone else's?"
"What did you mean about Eddie?" Peter tried to squirm out of its grasp. The fall from this height would be enough to wake him up.
"We just explained. We take on the interests of our hosts. In your case, it was that sense of self-righteousness born from that delicious guilt you feel over your dear Uncle Ben." It hissed out that name. "Such tragedy could keep us going for a lifetime. But in Eddie's case, it's just hatred over you. And we've come to realize, with you gone, the hatred will go as well. Eddie's much more destructive than you, but he's such a weakling by comparison. We can't destroy you… not if we want to live. Among other reasons…"
Peter wanted to shout 'then just find another host!' but that wasn't very heroic. No, the solution was not endangering someone else' life, it was destroying the Symbiote completely.
"If we really wanted another host, we have a whole slue of villains who utterly loathe your very existence. And as our first host, you will always be the center of our attention. We at least thought you'd understand our feelings towards you. After all, you seemed to understand perfectly when you tricked us into accepting you back to save Eddie."
The hand caressing him pressed its claws into his cheek, raking his flesh open. Peter flinched but ignored it, knowing the pain was all in his mind. None of this was real. He grabbed onto the hand and yanked it away.
He had defeated the Symbiote before. He had defeated it before. He had defeated it before.
"Because it doesn't matter how you 'feel' about me." He said. "Your actions are inexcusable!"
"What? Because of how we feed? Our very nature and evolution is deemed evil by you simply by being different?"
Peter grabbed hold of its other hand, yanking it off of him as well. He descended back to the bottom, unsure of what his next move would be. But staying here wasn't helping anyone.
Inhumanly long arms reached out and latched onto him before he had a chance to hit the ground. It pressed its face into his back, holding onto him tighter.
"You will never understand, Peter Parker. Even though you were so willing to take us in the first time around. You accepted our gifts until you realized there was a small price to pay."
He hung limply in its embrace.
"You were trying to cut me off from my friends. From Aunt May. Nothing's worth that."
"We didn't do anything you weren't already doing yourself. They aren't of any use to you. They just get in the way. Don't you see? We're only trying to help you be the best hero you can be. Show you how much you need us."
Peter thought back to when Venom first appeared – how they had gone after his loved ones. If they had succeeded… Peter would've been all alone. Secluded. Isolated. That's what the Symbiote had originally wanted.
Or when Venom had tried to force him to drink Gene Cleanser after exposing his true identity. All his family and friends would've had to leave in order to protect themselves, since he would have been in no position to do so.
Isolated, and powerless. Peter really would've been nothing without the Symbiote then. And given the circumstances… would he have been able to refuse?
That was going to be the Symbiote's plan forever – either break Spider-Man to the point where he'd accept it back, or kill him off in the process.
Either way, Eddie was being controlled and used.
And that was why Peter would keep on fighting – not just to protect himself – but to also, maybe one day, get his friend back.
"I wouldn't even be a hero if it weren't for them." He replied. "A few cheap power enhancement tricks are hardly a fair trade-off."
"Fine. We'll allow you to still interact with your… friends… just so long as you spend most of your time with us…"
"You think you can compromise your way back into my life? After everything you've done?"
Peter tried to wriggle out, but the Symbiote's grip strengthened. The walls started to melt away. The alien's body shrunk back down, but it maintained its clutch.
Without the room to conceal them, Peter could see Eddie once more, his back still to them. The Symbiote released Peter and took place at his side.
"Eddie Brock…" it called out. "We have someone here we want you to see…"
Finally, he turned.
His gaze first landed on the Symbiote. The frantic, panicked look in his eyes faded once he caught sight of it, but that quickly changed as he peered over at Peter.
"What are you doing here? And with the one I love?"
The Symbiote shrunk down to its basic, mud-like form, and slithered over to Eddie's side, where it regained its Spider-Man shape. It placed a hand on Eddie's chest as he drew in closer, gripping onto its side.
The sight made Peter sick to his stomach. How could Eddie trust that thing? He knew personally just how addictive it could be, but to what extent?
"We were trying to convince Parker of his true feelings, but he still doesn't seem to fully grasp them yet…" the Symbiote explained.
"Yeah." Eddie replied bitterly. "He never was good at that sort of thing."
It drew little circles into his upper body. "We think now would be the perfect time to… fill him in…"
Peter blinked, forcing his focus back on his friend. "Bro – we have to get out of here! We're in – "
"I know where we are, Pete!" Eddie spat. "And I know what the Symbiote's plan is! You think it was just an accident that we both fell off that building at the same time?"
Dread started taking over.
So… Eddie was in on it, then? That didn't change Peter's mind on saving him, but… it would certainly make things even more complicated.
Why would Eddie agree to help the Symbiote get him back?
"We can split ourselves." The alien stated. "It's how we reproduce. We can have as many hosts as we want."
Eddie was fine with sharing it? That seemed drastically out of character for him. Something was still missing. Either they left out a detail, or the Symbiote was lying altogether. It hadn't seemed too interested in Eddie while it was latching onto him…
Why was Eddie ok with it looking like Spider-Man?
The Symbiote dropped its hand away from the blond, and stepped forward.
"We were you once, Peter Parker. We can become you again. We're the you who's never abandoned Eddie. We're the you who isn't in love with Gwen Stacy. We're the you who doesn't have such a misplaced sense of self-righteousness. In short – we're the you he's always wanted. Do you get it, now?"
Eddie approached the Symbiote, putting his hand back on its side. It turned toward him. Its jaw stretched, the middle ripped into its misshapen mouth again. Eddie leaned down and placed his lips onto its torn-up ones.
Now Peter truly felt like he was going to be sick. He couldn't stand this thing taking complete advantage of his friend. So – he ran. Not away, this time, but towards.
The two were so wrapped up in each other that they reacted just a second too late. Peter tackled the Symbiote, breaking it away from Eddie. He fought, but it didn't take long for the element of surprise to fade.
Eddie gripped onto his shoulders and yanked him off of the Symbiote. Just as Peter had hoped.
He grabbed back at Eddie, and quickly the scenery began to shift.
"What's going on?" The blond demanded.
The Symbiote looked up at them, and was soon back up. It started to fade away as the surroundings took shape. One of its hands reached out towards them.
Suddenly forgetting about Peter, Eddie turned and held out his own hand. But it was too late. The alien was out of sight.
And then Eddie remembered Peter.
"What did you do that for?" Eddie yelled, yanking him up by his shirt. "Bring us back – now!"
"Eddie, just – hold on a second!" Peter took hold of Eddie's arms and pulled him off. "These are our memories, ok?" He pointed towards their new location. "Look!"
Still sneering, Eddie glanced over. They were in a park. Spring time, sunny-Sunday afternoon type feel. A Frisbee flew from behind them, and the two had to duck. They looked back up after hearing laughter.
"Sorry, Mr. P! Hey, Pete, throw it back!"
A blond kid ran passed them, followed by a scrawny brunette. Beyond the children was a family picnic. Two families, to be exact. Eddie's eyes widened when he recognized them.
"You remember these days, don't you, bro?"
"Yeah…" He didn't look at Peter. He just sauntered off closer to their relatives.
Their moms were chatting away with Aunt May, while Uncle Ben cooked at the grill and their dads discussed lab work. The memories paid no mind to the older counterparts of Peter and Eddie.
The boys stopped right next to their moms, and Eddie kneeled down, studying his.
"I can't even really remember them anymore." He confessed. "Actively, anyway… it's like… I look at a photo, and I can't really believe it. 'That's them?' I ask myself. I feel like I should remember better..."
"For me," Peter replied. "It feels like it was just yesterday. My dad and I were playing hide and seek… and the next thing I knew, they were dropping me off at Aunt May and Uncle Ben's place. Then…"
"I just wanted to follow in his footsteps." Eddie said, not taking his eyes off the families. "That's why I got a job with Connors."
"I know… it just feels so unfair…" Peter agreed. He looked over at his father, who had a very serious look on his face as he spoke. That was the only expression Peter could really remember him ever having. "They did all that research… all that work. And it went to nothing."
"How do you think they'd react now? Knowing who we grew up to be?"
Peter bit his lip. It wasn't the first time the idea had come up. In fact, he thought of it daily. He kept his identity a secret to protect the ones he cared about, but at the same time…
He looked over at Uncle Ben, who was happily grilling away, whistling some old song. With great power comes great responsibility. That's what he had said, and Peter did what he did to honor him. He desperately hoped that, in some way, Uncle Ben would be proud. And hopefully Aunt May as well, one day…
Now that he was standing here, though, seeing his parents for the first time in years, he wondered how they would feel about the situation. His dad had been studying this sort of thing… but would this be the result he had wanted?
Then he looked over at Eddie. His friend had done so much within his life – gotten into college, took up a lab assistant job, protected Peter – and he did it without any kind of family around to help him.
He really had been an inspiration.
"I don't know." Peter finally answered.
Laughter interrupted them. Their younger versions ran over to the families. Eddie playfully grabbed onto Peter, who was holding the football they had been throwing.
"I remember this, though." Eddie kicked at a nearby pebble and put his hands in his pockets. "I can't forget it."
He turned and walked off. Peter watched him leave, briefly turned back to their memories, and then followed.
Eddie stood by a stream, and he silently stepped up to his side.
"I never really had any family outside of my parents… or if I did, I never knew them." Eddie started, talking more to himself than Peter. "Which is probably why no one ever took me in. I didn't feel like I needed them, though. We were around each other all the time, anyway. You felt like family. After they died, you were all I had left."
"Bro, I – "
"It just sucks that you have no clue what it's like to see the only person who matters turn their back on you."
His words stung, but Peter trudged on.
"Yeah, I kinda do."
Eddie glared at him, but didn't argue.
"Look… what happened between us… was all due to misunderstandings." Peter said. "I'm willing to let it all go if you are. I want things to go back to the way they were."
"You think things can go back to normal after all this?" Eddie got in his face, taking Peter by surprise. Eddie sighed, calming himself before continuing. "Look at you now. You're Spider-Man. Little Peter Parker's all grown up. You don't need me to keep bullies off your back anymore. "
Peter blinked. "Eddie… family isn't about measuring out value, it's just about… caring for each other. You've always been my bro."
He held out his hand. Eddie mildly glanced at it. He gaze turned back up.
"You're such a spoiled brat."
Peter didn't interrupt. He was going to let Eddie get it all out in the open – let him vent out these pent up emotions. Allow him to finally be honest. That was a start…
"Nothing's ever good enough for you, is it? You actually had family to take you in, you've got, what like, three girls after you? And on top of everything – you have super powers! And you still run around complaining about your problems." He shook his head. "Pathetic."
"Maybe I do complain a lot. Maybe I had it easier than you, and everything you said about me is true. But that doesn't mean you have an excuse to just… throw everything away! Eddie – look at all you've accomplished without the Symbiote. Why would any sort of grudge amount to that?"
Eddie stared at him. It was an awkward gaze, filled with mixed emotions that Peter couldn't quite read. On the surface was anger, but the longer he looked, the more Eddie just seemed… sad.
"Because out of all the people in this world, you were the last person I thought would ever hurt me."
Peter didn't have a good response for that. If there even was a good response for something like that…
"I know, bro, and I'm sorry." He raised his hand slightly.
"So what happens now? You destroy the Symbiote and we pretend none of this ever went down? There's no going back. Not when you know…"
"Look, br – Eddie… that sort of thing, just… doesn't really matter to me." Actually, it never occurred to him, but now didn't seem like the right time to contemplate it.
"Well it matters a lot to me."
"The Symbiote is not the solution." Peter interrupted, trying to keep focus before they ran out of time. "Look, I know things are weird and I've messed up," he wanted to bring up that it was also messed up how Eddie had planned to let the Symbiote brainwash Peter into being with him, but that would be counterproductive at this point. "If you just trust me, we can figure this out together!"
He grabbed onto Eddie's hand.
"You were always there for me. And you understand my situation better than anybody. I can't just throw that away, and I won't let you, either. And I also know what you're going through with the Symbiote. You have to believe me – it's lying to you."
"Alright, food's ready!" The boys turned to see their families sit down together and enjoy their meal. Younger Peter accidently tripped over Eddie's legs. Playfully, Eddie shoved him over, causing both of them to laugh.
Peter tightened his grip.
"The Symbiote doesn't truly care about either of us, it's just out for its own survival."
"I know." Eddie pulled out of his grip. "But it gives me what you never could."
"You'll find someone, bro. Someone without gooey skin or speaks in plural pronouns. I'll always be there for you, though."
For a split second, Peter swore he saw Eddie smile.
No. That voice… no. No no no.
He had just started getting through to Eddie…
The Symbiote appeared between the two of them, facing Peter.
"But this whole situation was caused because you weren't there for him. Misunderstandings or not, the fact remains that you will always be Spider-Man. On top of your feelings, you will never be able to fully give yourself to him." It twisted its head to look at Eddie. "Unlike usss…"
It went to reach for him, but Peter intercepted, pushing Eddie away and nearly into the stream.
"Don't do this! It's only using you to get to me!"
Peter held on tightly to his friend, caught between the Symbiote and the stream. Eddie wrapped his arms around him. At first, Peter was ready to spring into action, until he realized the embrace wasn't malicious. He was… hugging him.
He relaxed in Eddie's arms.
"I know…" came the reply. "But what else do I have to lose?"
Suddenly Peter felt his body being spun around. Voluntary movement was out of the question as Eddie held him in place. The Symbiote began its work and latched onto him. Peter protested, but between the two of them, he couldn't break free.
"Once we've taken root inside you again, we'll have the host we've always wanted." It leaned in closer. "And Eddie will have the Peter Parker he's always wanted."
Peter's vision started to black out as the Symbiote began to clog over his eyes.
Was this really how it would end? Being betrayed by his oldest friend? All for some twisted sense of love and need for affection?
Peter really should've seen this coming sooner…
Suddenly, he felt the alien hinder. The ooze over his face began to peel off. When his eyes were free once more, Peter saw what was going on.
Eddie and himself – their younger memories – were pulling away at the Symbiote. They had a hold on each arm, tugging it off of him.
The real Eddie was also caught off-guard, and unintentionally let go of Peter. Once free, Peter pushed his friend back, trying to get him out of the way and help their counterparts.
Everything was at stake now. This was his only shot. Summoning up all his courage, Peter pulled on his suit.
Spider-Man punched the Symbiote out of the younger boys' grip, and it fell to the ground.
"Thanks for the assist," he called out. "Now get out of here!" The two nodded and ran back to the families.
The Symbiote let them run passed, regaining its footing and leaping back at Spider-Man. When it did, he punched into its stomach. He managed another blow to its face before it grabbed hold of his neck and threw him to the ground. Another few seconds, though, and he managed to flip their positions. Now the alien was pinned down beneath him.
Spider-Man felt the all-too familiar tingle of his spider-sense.
No – no, Eddie, just stay down…
He truly did not want to continue fighting with his friend. Especially after their first big talk in what seemed like forever. After finally starting to get Eddie back.
Spider-Man looked behind him, and indeed saw Eddie running towards them to attack.
But he was stopped.
Two figures stood behind him.
Eddie's parents held onto his arms. Not in a vicious manner, just enough to get his attention. His father rested a hand on his shoulder. Eddie looked at him, then back to the Symbiote, and then at his father. He was shaking.
"Son… just stop this." He said.
His mother stroked at his hair. "You don't need to keep hating. No matter what happens, you will always be our son."
Under any other circumstances, Spider-Man might have been wary of Eddie's next move. But he knew exactly what his friend was feeling at this moment.
Eddie breathed in deeply… and relaxed. He had a look of utter defeat and acceptance on his face.
"No…" the Symbiote whispered. "Eddie! Don't listen to them! They weren't there for you like we were!"
The environment was changing again. The families and Eddie both disappeared. Now it was just Spider-Man and the Symbiote.
"Well, you finally got me all to yourself!" Spider-Man said sarcastically.
"It wasn't supposed to happen like this…" it replied, shaking its head.
"What?" He picked up the alien and threw it across the empty space. "Suddenly I'm not good enough for you?" Spider-Man kicked at the Symbiote. He knew its grip was severally weakened. It staggered back at his strike, taking a few seconds to get up. "Or are you just not powerful enough to handle me on your own?"
The Symbiote let out a hiss as it jumped at him. But he wasn't even intimidated at this point. A few more punches, and it would be down for the–
Spider-Man felt something – or rather, someone – grab at him from behind.
The blond stood there, hands resting on Spider-Man's shoulders. He wasn't alone.
His parents joined at either side, Peter's parents after that. Uncle Ben and Aunt May were also there, then finally, their younger counterparts. Everyone – their families – encircled the Symbiote, trapping it.
The alien slithered up to Spider-Man and Eddie, skin oozing down its body.
"Eddie Brock… please…" it begged, reaching out to him. "Help us… we can get you what you've always wanted! Help… us…"
He stepped away from Spider-Man and gave out the final blow.
Shrieking, the Symbiote hit against the proverbial floor, shattering it. The vibrations mixed with the previous beatings casted it out in a white light. With one last wail of pain, the alien was gone.
Spider-Man stepped up.
"Eddie… uh, thanks…" he stammered awkwardly. "Guess um… you know what… never mind. Just – thanks."
There was a brief silence. The memories walked on, breaking the circle. Blankness began to melt back into the park.
Eddie looked over at the masked hero.
"When we were… when our memories went after the Symbiote… I saw myself pulling it off of you, something clicked. I don't know, it just… it made me realize… I don't know who I am. But, I don't want this. Not anymore."
Peter took off his mask and placed a hand on Eddie's shoulder. He didn't fully trust him, admittedly, his progression happening so quickly. And even if he was being honest, Peter knew there could be a chance of Eddie relapsing if the Symbiote ever got a hold of him again.
But he knew the type of impact a loved one could have on a person.
In this moment, Peter had his friend back.
"Your parents would be proud."
Eddie smiled bitterly. "I know. Yours, too." His face dropped. "Well, now it's over. And you know my biggest secret… but I know yours too, so, guess that kind of makes us even… still feel like an idiot, though."
"Listen, bro – you're my oldest friend, and you're always going to mean a lot to me." Peter said.
He nodded. "Yeah… but thing's will never be the same…"
"Things wouldn't be the same, anyway!" Peter meant for that to come off as a joke, and thankfully Eddie laughed. He understood his sense of humor, good.
They stared at each other. Peter wanted to ask something, but he didn't want to turn and make the conversation about him after Eddie had made so much progress…
But he recognized the look on Peter's face.
"No, I didn't talk to them." Eddie answered softly. "But, I mean, come on, it's so obvious that they'd be proud of you!"
Peter smiled. After the absolute hurricane of emotions he had recently experienced, this was definitely the best he had felt all night.
Eddie cleared his throat. "Ya know… the Symbiote's gone… we don't have to leave just yet…"
"It'll probably be back, though…" Peter said quietly. "We really should go and take care of it."
Eddie gave him a serious look. "Do you really want to leave?"
Sure, they were in their own minds, with their own memories. Nothing short of amnesia could ever take this away from them. But actually seeing their families again was a completely different experience from remembering. And another opportunity like this would probably never again occur.
Peter snickered bitterly.
So… the Symbiote really had done them a favor…
They turned back to look upon the scenery. The two stood there for a while, and just watched as the families continued their picnic. Their dads discussed work, their moms discussed life. Peter babbled on about some kind of frog report, then Eddie, Aunt May and Uncle Ben just sat back and enjoyed it all.
After the families had packed up and left, however, the boys became tense. This would never be enough. This one night would not accommodate for the years of separation that had happened, and would continue on.
But they couldn't dream forever.
"Just do it quickly…" Eddie said, looking down at his shoes. "I – I can't…"
Peter changed the scenery back to the blank slate it had been. They were alone.
"Well…" Peter started, unsure of what to say. "This has certainly been an interesting Wednesday evening."
"Spare the humor, bro." Eddie replied. "I'm not really in the mood."
The blond snickered though, then shook his head and turned to Peter with a determined look on his face.
"But… since this is all in our minds, and not technically, ya know – real… I'm gonna do this just once."
Before Peter had a chance to react, Eddie placed a hand under his chin, lifting his face up, and pressed their lips together. His eyes widened, but Peter let Eddie continue to kiss him.
When they parted, the two found themselves back in reality. They had been in some kind of abandoned apartment. The ceiling was completely trashed from their fight.
Peter rubbed at the back of his head, feeling dizzy. He was still dressed as Spider-Man.
"Where's the Symbiote?" He asked, suddenly becoming more awake.
Eddie, who was lying next to him, panicked. Frantically, the two searched around. The alien was gone.
"It's our fault it got away…"
"We'll find it." Peter retorted. He pulled off his mask. "No matter what happens, I don't regret this night. We'll be ready next time."
His friend smiled. "Thanks, Pete."
Peter held out his hand, which Eddie accepted. After quickly pulling his mask back on, the two left the apartment and Spider-Man helped Eddie find the nearest bus stop heading home.