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The music brought me to you.

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Ash lays back on his bed, resting his ankle on the knee of his other leg. He refreshes his email, but the results of the audition aren’t in yet.

“It’ll be fine, Ash,” Eiji chirps from his side of the room. “You’re probably the best freshman this school has ever seen. And besides, you’re guaranteed to get into the 200, and that’s all you need, right?”

“Yeah,” Ash agrees reluctantly. But it’s—the waiting. The not knowing. The feeling of being in suspense, unsure what to expect, like when ...

When ...

He shakes his head. He’s not there anymore. He’s past that now. And he’s never, ever going back to where he came from.

Probably.

Fuck.

“Have you eaten today?” Eiji asks suddenly.

“Uh ...” Ash hesitates. He thinks back, trying to remember what he’s eaten in the last week since move in day. He’s sure he has at some point, right? He remembers taking note of where the dining hall is.

Did he ever go in ... ?

“Yeah, I’ve eaten,” he lies. He glances over at Eiji, who’s frowning.

“I did not see you eat. In fact, I have not ever seen you eat.”

Ash bristles. “What, you’re watching me?” But it’s a joke, not a challenge. Not like he actually feels threatened, or scared, or ... anything.

Eiji scoffs, rolling his eyes. “I’ve seen your schedule, remember? You only leave the room for class, and you haven’t been eating in here. He scans his eyes over Ash’s side of the room. “Do you even have any food in here?”

Ash rolls over to face the wall. “I ... I need a job,” he says in excuse. “To buy more stuff like that. Snacks and shit.”

Eiji hums. “Want me to help you look?”

Startled, Ash sits up and looks over at Eiji. “I, uh—I was just gonna look for a student job ... ?”

“I have a campus job! So I’ve done it before. Let’s check out the school website and see what pops up for you.”

“S-sure,” Ash agrees.

They end up picking out quite a few that look decent—reception at various offices, the school library, the campus coffee shop, and even a dining hall—though Ash secretly thinks he’ll throw out his application to that last one when Eiji isn’t looking.

Honestly though, Ash is willing to do just about anything to help out with money at this point, as long as it’s not ... anything he’s done before.

Well, he corrects. Depends on how desperate I get. He’s sure there are people here—teachers and students both—who would be willing to pay for his skills.

“Want me to look over your resume?” Eiji asks.

Ash swallows. “I, uh ... I don’t have one.”

But Eiji doesn’t seem fazed. “That’s okay! I can help you build one really quick. One of my classes even had a unit on it. What’s your work experience?”

Prostitution.

Clearing his throat, Ash shakes his head. “I don’t—have any.” Nothing that I can tell you about, anyway.

Eiji waves a hand. “That’s okay. Student jobs don’t really care whether you have experience or not anyway. They’re just looking for hard workers, so I’m sure you’ll do fine!”

Hard workers, huh? Ash’s previous jobs weren’t exactly difficult. Half the time all he had to do was lie there. Maybe cry, maybe pretend a little, depending on the client. Arch his back just so, say the right lines, cry out in pain at the right moments.

Easy.

“Yeah,” he whispers. “Thanks.”

Eiji nudges Ash with his elbow. “Besides, I work at the coffee shop, so if nothing else, I can put in a good word for you there.”

— — —

[Max Glenreed:]
How was your first week?

[Ash Lynx:]
It was fine
I’m making friends, I think
At least one
My roommate

[Max Glenreed:]
I’m so glad to hear that, kid
You feel safe?

[Ash Lynx:]
With him?
Yeah
I think so
For some reason

[Max Glenreed:]
That’s good, isn’t it?

[Ash Lynx:]
I can’t tell
Yet
Hopefully

[Max Glenreed:]
Let me know if you need anything, okay?
You’re still in the area, so we can grab dinner any time

[Ash Lynx:]
I’m applying for jobs
So I’ll be able to help
With money
Soon
I’m sorry

[Max Glenreed:]
Seriously, kid, don’t worry about it
You’re my son
I don’t mind helping you out with your education
And anything else you need

[Ash Lynx:]
I need so much though
I’m so messed up
And you’ve helped so much
So I just
Want to help you
Or myself
Or whatever
As much as I can

[Max Glenreed:]
Whatever makes you feel comfortable
What kinds of jobs are you applying for?

[Ash Lynx:]
I’m not applying to whorehouses, if that’s what you mean

[Max Glenreed:]
Ash!

[Ash Lynx:]
Sorry
I’m sorry
I’m just
Student jobs
Dining halls and shit

[Max Glenreed:]
Dining halls? Really?

[Ash Lynx:]
I’m trying

[Max Glenreed:]
Speaking of which
You haven’t been going to the dining halls, have you?

[Ash Lynx:]
You checked my student card?

[Max Glenreed:]
I’m sorry, kid
You’re not using your meal swipes

[Ash Lynx:]
You couldn’t even fucking trust me enough for this?

[Max Glenreed:]
Apparently not, if you’re not using your meal swipes

[Ash Lynx:]
I’m trying!

[Max Glenreed:]
I know you are
I’m sorry
I don’t want to fight
Let’s grab dinner soon, okay?

[Ash Lynx:]
Yeah, whatever
I’ll pay

[Max Glenreed:]
Come on, Ash
I’m sorry
I won’t check your account anymore
Your old dad just wants to help

[Ash Lynx:]
It’s fine
I don’t care
Do what you want to me
It doesn’t fucking matter anyway

[Max Glenreed:]
:(