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Ayase lays on the bed- the bed that's several times too big for him- and contemplates. He has the five hundred thousand yen from tonight tucked away in the nightstand, and his body aches all over from Kanou-san's rough treatment.

Ayase contemplates.

Even though there's no denying how badly he wants to leave him, Kanou has already invaded and taken everything he had to live for. Whether it's Kanou fucking him or Kanou ordering Homare-san to watch him, he can't seem to go a single moment without thinking of him, and it's infuriating!

But tonight, Ayase's thoughts aren't centered around Kanou-san's specific actions.

Tonight, his thoughts are more general- comparative, even.

He reflects, briefly, on that first night- that first night that shares too many similarities with every night since- and realizes that being with Kanou-san in any capacity is like being in the middle of a stormy ocean.
Like the storm, Kanou-san takes and does whatever he wants, heedless of anyone else's feelings. He is violent and forceful and dangerous, and can easily harm the smaller Ayase if and when he chooses. It's inevitable that Ayase would come out with some sort of injury, or soreness at the very least. And if he's lucky, that's all it would be- pain and soreness. And if he was unlucky...well...best not to think about that.

And then, there are moments where he's in the eye of the storm that is Kanou-san. In those moments, Kanou-san treats him gently, even lovingly, like a good lover should. Of course, there's tension there too- usually that kind of treatment is to make up for something, and since it also requires Kanou-san restraining his urges, something will go wrong sooner rather than later- but it's better than it could be.

And yet...

Even if Kanou-san lets him go to school or get a job (even as a cook in Someya-chan's bar) and even if he is kinder than another buyer might've been to him, the fact of the matter is that Ayase is still technically a slave, and is still, in some ways, treated as such. And since it's likely he'll spend his entire life like this, never attaining true freedom, never in control of himself, the only thing he can do now is wake up and pray to anyone listening that for the coming day, he'll be greeted with the lesser of the two evils.

But between the aggression he'd grown accustomed to and the hope doomed to shatter as quickly as it comes...

There's really no part of a storm safer than another.