Author's Notes: Written for hc_bingo, the prompt: "slaves (sexual)". As you can see, my ability to stay within the bounds of 'hurt/comfort' is getting more and more stretched. But I'm expecting exactly no-one to actually read this, so maybe it doesn't matter.

The Injury

He doesn't know what to do with her.

She grinds down upon his thigh, fully clothed; she's sitting up and has his arms pinned above his head, while he's flat on his back. He's hard for her – he always is – but that niggling sensation is drawing more of his attention.

She makes sounds that he thinks are meant to indicate pleasure, but they sound more like sobs than anything. She squeezes his wrists hard enough to bruise (which probably says something about his physical strength, huh?) and he kind of wants to tell her, V, stop it, you're hurting me. But he doesn't. Both because he's worried for her and because he doesn't want to seem like a girl.

It's always this way. They haven't actually had sex yet, but whenever they get close, this happens. She always pushes it; she pushes him down, around; she always wants the power. Not like he's some misogynistic creep who's freaked out by the idea of a woman wearing the pants in a relationship – most of his relationships have been like that, and he's never minded – but with her it's different. It looks like she needs it. She needs him to lie down and play dead, and he feels completely subservient to her will – so he does it. But he doesn't want to. He's a little scared of her, to be honest.

And that's officially bad, right?

He knew from the start Veronica Mars had damage – dead best friend, obsession with crime, et cetera. He was stupid and naive and didn't think about the actual repercussions of all that – he saw her 'damage' as scratches on the surface; something that added to her cynical persona, but nothing deeper. If anything, he thought his painfully dull, whitebread personality would compliment that. Keep her in balance; make him even vaguely noticeable.

He guesses, in a way, that happened. For her anyway – she takes comfort in how stable and normal he is; something that doesn't exist much in Mars-world (which... would probably be Mars the planet. Okay, whatever). But when he looks at her, all he can see is how desperate she is to drive him into the ground and remind herself how safe he is; how powerless compared to her.

Don't get him wrong, he loves her. He wouldn't be here if he didn't. But she shouldn't need to see him like that, and he doesn't want to be seen like it. He's not powerless. Not really. But she needs him to be, so he is, and it sucks.

There's something going on at the back of her head; some grand pain beyond Lilly Kane, Logan Echolls, Aaron Echolls; any of the official story. He won't ask, but he wants to know. He wishes she would tell him, but he doesn't think he's good enough. That's the whole point of him.

She wasn't like this with Logan – they were fighting a lot, sure (okay, they're still fighting a lot), but the power was always evenly matched. Piz can't help but have a bad feeling about that. If Logan Echolls turns out to be one of those assholes who think they have to hit a woman 'into line' and that's the reason Veronica needs to act the way she does, screw pacifism, Piz will kill him. Okay, given his expertise compared to Logan Echolls', that would probably result in his death (hence why he usually avoids fights in the first place), but he doesn't care this time. There's a whole honor before reason thing, that he's never really understood properly, but he's trying.

"What do you want?" Veronica murmurs, drawing him out of his reverie. She moves her hands from his arms, down to his shoulders where she digs her nails in and makes him wince. Her eyes are closed, so she doesn't notice.

He leaves his arms above his head anyway.

"I – I–" he stutters until he realizes she wasn't actually looking for an answer. She's muttering to herself, and he can't help but wonder what she's saying.

He's pretty sure it's nothing he'd like to hear.

She's shaking faster now, and with a small cry – she reminds him of some kind of wild bird – she's done; her body finally relaxes and she droops herself over him on the bed. He wraps an arm around her.

"Are you okay?"

"Like the early-middle part of the alphabet," she says, leaning up to peck him on the lips. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Her eyes looked glazed over with tears, but he doesn't know how to say that. So he just nods.

She snuggles in closer against his chest. It seems that her point has been made, whatever it is, and now she wants to sleep. It's five PM, but whatever. She's comfortable with him; she takes comfort in him. He's glad he can do that for her, but he doesn't like the feeling that he did it just by being pathetic compared to her. He wishes she could trust him.

She doesn't notice the fact he's not done (not to be a jerk about it, but he's a guy), or those crescent-shaped imprints she left on his shoulder blades. He sighs.

He can't let this go on. But he can't stop it either.