"Hey, Wander."

She had that voice. That coy playful voice, like honey dripping from a thorn, and it never meant anything good for him.

Wander wrapped his arms tighter around himself, as if he could make himself so small he'd disappear altogether.

"You think I'm gonna hurt you?"

His teeth punctured through his lip. She almost always hurt him. Especially when she sounded so happy. The blood tasted like thick copper and he shuddered.

"That's no way to greet a friend," she chastised, and finally he peered up at her menacing frame. She had one hand behind her back, and he trembled to imagine what torture implement she could be concealing.

But she was right. He couldn't let any of this change the sort of person he was, and he has got to stay civil and friendly, in case it might one day inspire a change of heart.

"H-hi, Dom," he choked out, and she smirked.

"Grop, you're such a loser. You're shaking, don't you know that?"

He was, but he could still force a smile and try to be friendly.

Dominator shook her head derisively. "Whatever. You don't need to be so freaked out – I'm not gonna hurt you this time."

Sometimes she promised that. And sometimes she kept the promise.

His doubt seemed to amuse her. "Trust me, I'm totally not lying. I just came to give you some food."

Food? It had been a while since she'd last fed him…. she wasn't generous enough to feed him on a regular basis: either that or she often forgot. His hopeful expression was unmistakable. Dominator knelt to his level, and was suddenly much too close. "Well, gosh, that's real kind of you," he said, but found he couldn't bring himself to meet her eyes. Instead he stared intently at the floor just to the left.

She shrugged. "What can I say? I'm not totally heartless."

He nodded weakly. "I know ya've got a good heart Dom, if ya'd just-"

"Okay, shut up or I'll rip an eye out."

He snapped his mouth shut fast.

"Look. Our friendship means so much to me that I brought you a delicacy from a foreign galaxy."

"Nn?" He wasn't sure if it was okay to speak yet, and decided it was probably best to keep things on the safe side.

"Sure! It's called a tide pod, Wander."

With that, she opened her palm and showed him what she had been hiding behind her back. It was a curious little food, unlike anything Wander had ever seen before – he wondered if it might be some kind of fruit, based on its tougher exterior, and the softer, gooey looking inside. Or perhaps it was a candy? The swirl of citrus orange and blue amidst a splash of ivory cream definitely hinted that this was a created item, not one grown on its own. At any rate, it looked amazingly delicious, like it would just pop right open under his teeth and spill delicious gooey sweets on his tongue.

He sensed that she wasn't looking for more gratitude, so instead he gathered the courage and asked, "c-can I take it?" Better to ask than to just reach for it. He'd lost a finger that way once.

"Mhmmm~"

His stomach gave a grumble, and he plucked the little tide pod right off of Dominator's palm.

"Where did this come from?" he marveled, having never seen something like it before.

Dominator rolled her eyes. "Oh, some stupid planet called Earth. It's pretty lame, but I did lift some neat things from it before I destroyed it. These tide pods seemed pretty popular. Same with some weapons I found– they called them nuclear weapons – well, doesn't matter now. I've got them all."

"O-oh?" Wander lifted his head from his tide pod examination. "Dom, don't y'have enough weapons."

"There's no such thing as enough weapons. Now are you going to eat that or not?"

"R-right!" Wander popped the little tide pod onto his tongue and rolled it around a bit – the outside didn't taste too great, but the gooey insides were probably the best part anyway. It was nice Dominator allowed him these small reprieves from all the torture.

Making a happy mumbly noise, he bit down on the tide pod.

Immediately he regretted it. Bitter chemical taste exploded over his tongue – part of it was thick and viscous, part of it dry as powder and tasting faintly of salt. It squelched to every corner of his mouth, and clung to his teeth and tongue and the sides of his mouth.

"Hnnk!" He pitched forward, prepared to spit every bit of the disgusting foamy mess from his mouth, when Dominator's hand clamped down his mouth.

"Not so fast~" she purred – and Wander's heart nearly stopped. O-oh. She planned it. She knew this would happen. Wander beat furiously at her wrist, squealing in rage and panic. The disgusting grit ground against his gums like sandpaper soaked in soap, and already his throat was seizing, protesting against the powder and goop tickling his uvula.

He thrashed, but her fingers met at the back of his skull; her palm remained a firm seal over his lips.

The tickling turned into itching, and the itching spread from the back of his throat, to across his cheeks and gums. His throat worked furiously and futilely to purge the grainy sludge slowly crawling down his esophagus – the itching spread down there, too.

He forced out a protest but it was little more than a muffled bubble of a noise, suppressed by syrupy liquid and his shut lips.

"This is too good," Lord Dominator cackled. "I mean, wow, I know you're pitiful, but you seriously trusted me enough to just eat it? What a dork!"

The itching intensified, until suddenly it wasn't very much like itching anymore – no, it crept up in intensity until it was burning.

"Nhfh!" In his writhing, he managed to partly dislodge himself from Dominator's grasp – just enough that a multi-color and multi-texture mix was spat from his mouth and dribbled down his lips. He breathed in sharply, since Lord Dominator's hold had restrained both his ability to spit out the tide pod and his ability to breathe. The moment he inhaled, he regretted it – sticky film slipping into his trachea and he gagged violently. His tongue lashed along his teeth, struggling to wipe off and spit out as much as he could.

"Wander!" Lord Dominator exclaimed, scandalized, "are you saying you didn't like my thoughtful gift? I got it from another galaxy just for you, friend." All pretense of pleasantries was ruined as she burst into a maniacal laugh.

"Come on, swallow it!" She scooped some of the foamy goop from his chin and forced it into his mouth – the burning all this time had been violently escalating, especially concentrated towards the back of his throat. Another dry heave, and Dominator's fingers shot from his mouth.

"Oh gross, are you going to-"

Wander's back spasmed, his head bowed, and frothy mix of spit and bluewhite solution sprayed onto the ground.

"Ewww, haha-"

His throat burned, his stomach burned, and queasiness swiftly rose – this wasn't good, this wasn't good, this wasn't good –

He gurgled incoherently, strained to hold himself up on all fours, "d-does-" powder caught in his throat and he gagged. Thoughtlessly, he tried to scrape out whatever remained in his mouth using his fingers, but the burning didn't alleviate in the slightest – another strong heave wracked through his body. This time he vomited up little more than stomach bile and water. His vision swam. Slivers of cherry red twined in the strings of saliva dangling from his lips.

"Dom-" hoarse, scratchy, and it hurt to talk, it shredded at his lungs, and the word twisted into a fit of helpless coughing.

"Can you tilt your head up juuuuuust a little bit?"

Why did she ask – oh. Wander looked up to see the lens of a camera on her phone.

"Ooh, perfect! I couldn't really catch your face before, this is perfect-"

He thrust his head down and vomited again, though there was nothing left to force out of his stomach at this point.

"Ugh, you just can't cooperate." Dominator wiggled her fingers in front of the camera. "Heyyyy everyone! Enjoying the view? I hope you're watching out there, Sylvia!"

Wander's lungs heaved – it hurt to breathe, hurt to exist, but things… weren't getting worse. Not anymore. He took in a shallow breath, then another. Maybe…. Maybe he wasn't going to die after all? Maybe Dominator wasn't that evil?

Dominator tilted her head to the side. "Hey, how are you feeling?"

Wander's eyes closed. Another shallow, gentle breath. He lifted his eyes, and offered a gentle nod. Maybe things would be okay. Maybe he'd make it through this.

"Oh, good," Dominator answered, as if he had actually replied. "Then you must be ready to eat more."

Grinning, she pulled out a handful of creamy blueorange candies.