Again. She wanted to do that again. Not now, no, but… she would want it eventually. And he wouldn't have any power to stop her.

Wander rolled over onto his side and squeezed his thighs together. The taste of blood stuck like tacky to his tongue and mouth. Wetness clung to his privates, getting cold in the night air. He hated it. He felt dirty, used, vulnerable. But most of all, he felt exhausted. Like even the act of breathing was too much work.

"Hey," she suddenly said, and shifted behind him. "I was kinda selfish, you know?"

It sounded too good to be true, and sure enough, after a long yawn, Dominator continued, "I was just so focused on making myself feel good, and I totally neglected you. How about I fix that?" Fingers crept up his hip, reaching -

"NO!" Wander kicked out wildly and half dove half fell a good foot away.

Dominator burst out laughing. "Oh my Grop, relax. Wound up much?"

Wander whimpered and watched her with terror, certain she would at any moment grab him and drag him back. Instead, she yawned wide and nestled her head comfortably on her arms."Relax nerd, I was mostly kidding. Just funny to watch you jump."

Several tense seconds passed, and her breathing slowed. Was she going to sleep? Wander's eyes darted to the dark woods around them. If she fell asleep… if she was unaware….

One persimmon eye opened a sliver. "Don't even think about running away. I found you, even on this planet. If you run, I'll find you again, and I won't be happy."

Wander lowered his head, curling his arms and legs closer to his body. "Y-Yes Dom."

He didn't realize he had fallen asleep. In fact, he hadn't had any intention of falling asleep. Nonetheless, his mind groggily dragged itself from sleep some time later. You don't want to be awake, his brain said. His body agreed. He felt exhausted to his very bones, like every inch of his body weighed a hundred pounds. Even his eyelids refused to open.

Then he heard a long yawn.

Lord Dominator. Her.

She was moving, shifting behind him, maybe sitting up. He dared to open one eye a mere slit, though he didn't glimpse her – she was behind him. The sky was still dark, the soil smelled richly of blood. They couldn't have slept for more than a few hours.

"Hey," she said softly; he didn't reply. As if pretending to be asleep would help his case any.

"Hey, nerd." There was exhaustion in her voice, yes, but also… she was happy. After what she had done last night, she was happy. Wander felt sick to his stomach.

"Come on," she drawled, "I know you're awake. You're as tense as a board."

"Go away," he tried weakly.

She cooed. Shifted closer. His breath started coming short. Then he felt it – the subtlest little shift of the hair follicles at the back of his neck, the tiniest indication that Dominator was reaching to touch him.

"DON'T!" Energy shot into his veins; he launched away from the touch, crashed into a tree trunk a foot away, and scrambled around to face her.

She looked terrible. Her hair, clothes and skin had dirt stains, the blaster wounds on her side were swollen and purple, and the couple hours of sleep clearly hadn't been enough. But her eyes… those were a bright sinister red. They looked alert and sparking with dangerous energy. "A little sensitive, are we? I was just going to pet you."

He was going to get hurt. No matter what he did, this was going to end with him getting hurt because she wanted that, she always wanted that. Helpless tears rose to his eyes. "Don't touch me," he said shakily.

"Ouch. After we slept together and everything." Dominator twirled a lock of her dirty hair. "That's no way to make a lady feel good about herself."

Anger twisted in his stomach. "Slept together?" he ground his teeth. "Dom, what y'did was wrong! That wasn't – it's not - y-you aren't s'pposed to force people!"

"Really? Gosh, I wish I had known that last night."

"You knew it and y'did it anyway." He clutched the bark behind his back as tight as he could – his mutilated fingers flared with protesting pain, but that was nothing new. He didn't know what it was like to not be in pain at this point. "Dom, I thought even you would have limits. That there was… was some awful things y'wouldn't do."

"Gee, why would you think something dumb like that?"

"… y'don't feel bad about it, do ya? Not even a little?"

"Nope!" she emphasized the 'p' with a pop. ""Honestly? I thought sex with you – or just in general – was gonna be super lame, but… that was really fun. Who knew?"

"And you're not ever gonna be my friend," Wander said, but it wasn't really a question.

Dominator tapped her lips thoughtfully. "Would you call it friends with benefits? Ooh, this is exciting! I haven't ever had a friend before, much less one with benefits. How fun." She gave a little excited wiggle, and Wander fully grasped the idea that she couldn't be saved.

"We're gonna stop you," he growled out.

"Aw, are you? I really wonder how, because your little circle of friends is only getting smaller and smaller. I mean, if you couldn't defeat me before, what hope do you really have now?"

Wander swallowed hard. "You're hurt now. Y'try to sound brave, and y'try not t'let it show, but we hurt you. We can defeat you."

Her grin faltered. "Since when did you get so defiant?"

"That's why you destroyed your ship, isn't it? You wouldn't have done that if you weren't desperate, Dom – you wouldn't have blown it up if y'thought y'could fight us!"

Any trace of a smile was gone from her face, and Wander's racing heart frantically tried to remind him that provoking Dominator was a very very bad idea, but his mouth didn't seem to want to listen. "We're gonna bring you down, Dom, 'cause the good always prevails. Always. An' the galaxy's gonna recover, an' we're all gonna be happy and together and havin' a great time. It'll be like you didn't do anything, like you were never here! You aren't gonna mean anythin'!"

There was silence. Silence enough for him to hear his heartbeat in his ears, and for panic to set in the way it should have several minutes ago. She didn't move. She didn't say anything. Her face was entirely devoid of expression.

Apologies started tumbling uncontrollably from his mouth, "'msorry, Dom, I shouldn't'a said that, I didn't mean it, really, that wasn't polite – I'm so-"

She stood up sharply. Wander didn't breathe. "Why'd you have to go and ruin a good morning like that?" she said softly. "I mean, all right, it wasn't the best morning in the world. I slept on dirt for Grop's sake, and my hair is disgusting – unlike you, I don't sleep outside like a dirty hobo. Plus, it's way too early to be awake and I'm hungry. So it wasn't the greatest."

She closed the distance between them and Wander writhed, whimpering out pleads and protests. He wanted to push her away, fight her off, but all his limbs had seemingly become noodles. She reached out and cradled his right hand, her thumb settling into his palm. With a definitive crack, she snapped his wrist.

Words and screams both leapt from his chest, and she calmly talked over him, "Still, I was determined to make this a nice morning for the both of us. Start with a little banter, pet your gross filthy fur, and be on our merry way. Really, is that too much to ask?"

One hand grabbed his forearm; the other grabbed his hand. Gazing straight into his eyes, she began to twist the broken joint. There was this awful crunching sound, not one clean snap, but rather a closely gathered series of grinding pops. His spine shuddered and his eyes rolled.

"I want to make something clear," she added, in a softer voice. "I've destroyed hundreds of planets, Wander. Billions of people. At least I wasn't one of those lousy billions of nobodies that died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are the ones that meant nothing. Unsuspecting little citizens, doing nothing and going nowhere, until their planet got destroyed and nothing is left to remember them."

With one final dismissive noise, she shoved him aside and stood up sharply. Wander immediately curled around his throbbing wrist, whimpering softly. Pain at least was familiar. The fear was still there, and the pain was sharp enough that it kept him down, but rage railed against his ribs.

She couldn't keep doing this. She couldn't keep hurting him.

"Dangit," Dominator said softly, and she really did sound remorseful, "Look what you made me do. I wasn't even going to hurt you today."

Wander's eyes curved up to follow her as she stretched and yawned. "I'm not scared of ya, Dom," he said; he wanted it to be true but knew it was a lie.

She snorted. "Just get up. I'm starving, and we need to get moving before your horse finds us."

Wander tucked his chin to his chest. "Th'nlet'r."


He bit his lip.

"What did you say?"

"Let her find us."

Dominator fixed the most condescending and confused look upon him. "What is wrong with you?"

He wanted to burst into tears, but none would come. "I-I don't know."

Her expression softened, but it was no less dangerous. "Aw, this is too much for you, isn't it? It's breaking your little brain."

He averted his eyes.

"It's okay. I'm not mad." And she knelt down in front him; hands cradled his cheeks and he whined. "Honestly? You look kind of adorable like this. I mean, I could do without the whole defiant song and dance, but… there's just something so broken about you."

Wander wasn't surprised this time when she kissed him. He tried not to react, tried to focus on simple things like breathing, and most of all tried not to fathom that she might want to do what she had done last night.

Then, she froze. For half a second, Wander didn't understand why – was it to trip him up, to put him off guard, and then hurt him again? Then he heard it too – a very distant yell, barely carried over the wind, but completely unmistakable. Sylvia. She was looking for him. She was – not close, not exactly, but –

"SYL- mggh!" Dominator wrapped her hand around his mouth, her eyes a furious red.

"Don't even think about it!"

"Wander?" that distant voice warbled, and there wasn't any question about who Wander was going to listen to.

A well-aimed kick straight for Dominator's injured side freed him, and Wander writhed from her clutches, screaming at the top of his lungs, "SYLVIA SYLVIA HELP ME SYLV-hrk-"

Lava constricted around his mouth, scrawled over his face, snaked to wrap around his entire body. A scream of frustration rose up his throat but ended as nothing more than a muffled squawk.

"Well," Dominator hissed grimly, "looks like we need to run."