Notes: Post Eddie getting fired from the Bugle, but pre-Venom. After all Peter has done to ruin his life, Eddie tries his hand at revenge.

"Well, what I heard was that Peter got dumped by Mary Jane, so now he's going out with Gwen Stacy of all people! Can you imagine that? I didn't really think he was in her league, personally."

While he probably wasn't supposed to have overheard that, the fact of the matter was that he had.

Eddie Brock stared down at the box he had been packing up with his personal effects. Since he had only held that staff job for less than an hour, it wasn't like there was much to retrieve from the Bugle's offices—just a few photos Jameson wanted him to take since they "didn't need them anymore."

Yeah, that had been real tactful. Then again, Jonah hadn't prided himself on possessing that particular trait, had he?

Whatever. He had come in, even after he had been kicked out of the place just a few days ago for "dirtying the Bugle's name," to get the damn photos. Brock didn't know what he was going to do with them, though he knew for certain that he wouldn't be able to get any other paper to buy them from him. And while in his shining moment (short as it had been), he had welcomed the idea of framing his winning shot, hanging these up in his apartment would just leave a bad taste in his mouth.

It would remind him of Parker. Even though he had gone so far as to beg the other photographer to keep his secret on the down low, the bastard had gone and revealed it, anyway. Maybe doctoring the photo hadn't been such a great idea in the first place, but he had just been that determined to win.

And now, as if to add salt to the wound, he'd gone and hooked up with Gwen? Eddie glanced over at the two Bugle employees whose gossiping had clued him in, but it sounded like they were already onto other subjects.

Angrily, he turned the box's flaps down to close it and then stood up with it tucked awkwardly under his arm. He had to get out of the building before he hurt someone.

These people were only innocent bystanders, after all. (Well, not really, considering how all of them had given him those ashamed looks after he'd been exposed, but that didn't warrant physically harming them, in his opinion.) No, there was someone else he needed to take all of this aggression out on.

Brock wouldn't feel guilty when he broke Parker's jaw, he decided. It would only be what was coming to him.


After getting home, eating a pint of chocolate ice cream (everyone said that was a chick thing, but it really did help, god dammit), and passing out in front of the television, Eddie woke up the next morning feeling a little better.

For one thing, it wasn't really morning. More like one o' clock in the afternoon. He really couldn't remember the last time he had been able to sleep that late. He was always getting up bright and early to try and find good photo opportunities, but for the moment he was free of all obligations.

The only problem was that he had to pay a little thing called rent at the end of the month. Fucking New York and its ridiculously high price of living. He was starting to wonder why he was still here. And not in a suicidal way, though maybe he had considered that option once or twice. But New York had been the place to be to make it as a journalist, and now all hope of that was down the drain, so...

Still, it wasn't like he had anywhere else to go.

So while he did feel better when he woke up, it wasn't that much better. He was still pissed at the world, but he wasn't planning to actively search out Parker in order to beat the shit out of him anymore.

It just figured that he ran into the guy on a complete whim, then. Once he'd realized that he was completely out of food, he had hit the streets to find a sidewalk hot dog vendor, and what had he found instead?

Parker, strutting down the street with a smirk on his face and a new outfit to boot. While Eddie had to admit that the black suit was pretty fashion savvy, he couldn't agree when it came to Parker's hairstyle. The guy was a college student, not some prepubescent teenage boy who listened to bad music. What did he think he was doing?

Parker thought he was hitting on women, apparently, if the slick expression and overdone hand gestures were any indication. Brock was almost cheered up by that, since his rival (ex-rival?) was making a total idiot of himself. But it still didn't keep his rage from yesterday from resurfacing. While he had thought he could refrain from petty thoughts of revenge, seeing the object of his complete and utter downfall strutting his stuff mere feet away was just too much.

Forget the hot dog, Brock decided. He was about to lay the smackdown.

He stalked over to Parker, thinking on his feet. There were too many people around—he was going to have to drag him into an alley if he wanted to rough him up in peace. Otherwise Spider-man might show up to save the day. He and Parker seemed to be buddy-buddy or something, so Eddie really wouldn't be surprised if that happened. He had to be discreet.

He smoothed out his expression and even managed a grin as he approached Peter, slinging an arm around the other's shoulders. "Hey! How's it going?" He had the element of surprise here, so as he started to lead Parker in the intended direction (the closest alley), there wasn't any resistance from the younger man.

"Eddie..." Peter raised an eyebrow, but didn't yank away. He seemed more confused than anything.

"Oh, you thought I would be mad about what happened before?" Brock kept forcing that grin. He had done it when ass-kissing to Jameson—he could do it now. "Don't even worry about it. Water under the bridge, right?"

They were at the alley's entrance now. Perfect. Without preamble, Eddie grabbed Parker by the elbow and pulled him off the sidewalk. Once he'd dragged him far enough into the alley, he turned to face the brunet, seizing both of his shoulders and slamming him against the brick wall.

He had to smile at the crack sound of Parker's head meeting the wall. Except that the bastard was smiling, as if he thought this whole thing was funny.

"What is it?" Brock hissed.

"Oh, nothing," Parker brushed him off. "I'm just remembering your face when Jameson told you you were fired."

He did not just—Brock grabbed Parker's shoulders, pulling him forward and then smacking his body against the brick again. "And then you had to go and take Gwen from me, too, you asshole! You knew we were an item!"

Parker really did laugh this time, throwing his head back as if for dramatic effect. "If by 'an item,' you mean that you were all gaga over her while she didn't give you the time of day. Sorry to tell you, Eddie, but she likes the bad boys."

And since when had Parker been a bad boy, anyway? Was it just him, or had the guy gone through a serious personality change? Eddie might have given that more thought if he hadn't been so damn angry.

"Look. Eddie." Parker almost looked serious now, leveling his gaze on him. "You want some action?" He lifted his hand up and set it at the side of Brock's neck.

He tensed. What the hell--

The next thing he knew, Parker was swinging him around so that they switched positions. Since when had the fucker been so strong? But then Parker's body was being pressed against his own; Eddie struggled, but Parker somehow didn't budge as much as he tried to push him away.

He kissed him then, really kissed him—with tongue and everything, and...

And then Parker pulled away, grinning widely. His eyes were lit up with exhilaration. Then his countenance softened into a more controlled kind of malice, as he patronizingly tapped Eddie's cheek. "There's your action."

Eddie was breathless. He could only watch as Parker exited back onto the street, his chest tight with his anger. He had lost again, in a way that was arguably more humiliating than before, if that was possible.

He turned and punched the wall, snarling at the stinging sensation that assaulted his knuckles.