“Come on, man.” Shelton gave the boy a disdainful look, touching his buddy’s arm impatiently. “Let’s go before he asks us for money.”
Elijah moved, but not in the same direction as Shelton. He approached the boy, who looked up at him in alarm. “Hey.” Elijah’s heart ached at the fear in this boy’s eyes. Even though he was dirty and looked half starved, the boy was still handsome. He had long black hair, and dark hazel eyes that affected Elijah in a way he couldn’t even name. “If you need a place to sleep,” he offered, “I got an extra bed. My roommate’s gone for the week, and campus is just a few blocks up.”
The boy’s eyes narrowed distrustfully. “I don‘t do that,” he spat. “I’m not a whore!”
Elijah shook his head. “You got me wrong, man.” He leaned down, talking softly now. “Look, my little brother ran away from home last year. We didn’t find him until we got a call from the ER. I just wanna give you someplace to sleep.”
The boy’s eyes had softened somewhat, and he swallowed. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “Is he ok?”
Elijah shrugged. “He made it. Never been the same, though.” He offered his hand, which the boy reluctantly took. He grabbed a grubby backpack from the ground beside him, slinging it over one shoulder as he followed Elijah out to the street.
Shelton gave Elijah a look, but held his tongue. They walked back to the dorms in silence, where Shelton bid Elijah good night and reminded him about the study session the next day. Elijah pulled out his key, opening the front door and leading the boy up to his room.
“I’m Elijah,” he introduced once they were inside, offering a hand to the boy.
The boy’s eyes were still untrusting, but he shook Elijah’s hand. “Punk,” he offered.
Elijah nodded. “Just let me put fresh sheets on the bed. I can loan you a towel, too, if you wanna rinse off.”
“That would be great.” Punk was starting to look at him with more curiosity than anything, and Elijah understood why. Helping out a stranger was just not something people normally did. He wasn’t even entirely sure why he was doing this. He had lied about his brother, because he thought a story like that would convince Punk to accept his help. In reality, he didn’t even have a brother.
Punk went to rinse off, while Elijah busied himself making up the bed. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, but he was willing to run with it.
Letting out a shaky breath, Punk trying to make himself relax. He put his worries to the back of his mind, resolving to enjoy this one peaceful night of sleep, his first in months. If Elijah tried anything, he could deal with it. He had fought off bigger guys.
It was many hours later when Punk awoke. He was still safe, untouched by his temporary roommate. He smiled in relief, letting his eyes lazily travel around the room. It looked like a typical college dorm room; crowded, with white walls, covered in various posters and cutouts. Punk had never really thought about college; he knew it wouldn’t happen for him.
Sitting up, he stretched his arms above his head. He was wearing a large tshirt and pajama pants borrowed from Elijah, who had proven to be nearly the same size as him, although considerably heavier at the moment due to Punk’s malnourished condition. The spring creaked when he sat up, and out from the lower bunk popped the head of his benefactor.
“Morning.” Elijah slid out of his bunk, dropping his book beside his pillow. “Sleep well?”
“Yeah.” Punk yawned, blinking the sleep from his eyes. “It was great. Thanks. Really.” He hooked his feet into the metal ladder which led to the floor, climbing down carefully.
“Um.” Elijah smiled at him, looking a bit awkward. “Brunch is open right now at the food hall, if you wanna come with me. I got extra meals on my plan.”
Punk stared at him. Elijah had offered him a bed, and now food. He still didn’t quite understand why, but he wasn’t able to turn down a meal. “Yeah. Ok. Thank you.”
Elijah pointed to a pair of jeans and a tshirt which he had laid out earlier. “I got those out for you. Lucky you’re my size.”
“Thank you.” Punk picked up the clothes, looking uncomfortably at Elijah.
“Oh. I’ll just let you change.” Elijah gave him a full smile, and Punk was sure his heart skipped a beat. That smile had to be the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. He swallowed as Elijah left the room. He glanced at the fresh clothes, fingering the hem of his sleep shirt. Then he walked over to the door, locking it before he began to change.
“No fucking way!” Shelton was scowling. “I can’t believe you left that kid in your room. I bet every damn thing of value’s gonna be gone when you get back. And your roommate’s gonna kill you if his computer gets stolen.”
“It’s locked to the desk!” Elijah returned. “He’s not a damn thief, Shelton. His parents kicked him out. Where the hell would you be if your parents kicked your ass out, huh?”
“At my aunt’s house!” Shelton snapped.
“Yeah, well he doesn’t have an aunt!” Elijah exclaimed. “We talked for hours this morning, Shel. He doesn’t have any family, besides his parents and little sisters. They threw him out when they caught him with a gay magazine.”
“You believe that fucking story?” Shelton sighed and shook his head. “I’m telling you, Lij, this kid’s full of shit. He’s gonna clean you out and get the hell outta dodge.”
Elijah sighed heavily. “Shelton, you saw him for all of two seconds. He’s an amazing kid. You know he kept going to school for a month after he got kicked out so he could graduate? He’s really smart. I told him he should stay with me until Tobi gets back, but he really needs a place to crash after that. You’ve got that couch, is it really a problem?”
Shelton threw his hands up in the air. “Oh, is it a problem to have a damn stranger in my house? Some kid who could take off in the middle of the night with the tv, or slit our fucking throats and take everything we’ve got?”
“He needs somewhere to sleep!” Elijah cried. “He just wants to be indoors and have a little bit of fucking food, and you’re thinking about your god damn tv!”
Shelton was still scowling. “I don’t want him in my house,” he growled.
“He’s not gonna steal anything,” Elijah assured him. “Look, if he does, I’ll pay for it, ok? It’s not gonna happen. He’s half starved, it’s not like he could hurt any of the guys at your house. You could probably all bench him, for god’s sake! Please Shelton. I know it’s a weird situation, but this kid really fucking needs help.”
Shelton looked at him, sighing and rubbing his eyes. “You’ll fucking vouch for him?” he muttered. “He touches anything - he fucking sneezes on anything, and you’ll pay for it?”
“Yes,” Elijah replied.
Shelton was quiet for a moment, then he sighed. “Alright. I’ll bring it to the guys, and we’ll see. But your ass is on the line here Lij, seriously.”
“I know. Thank you, Shelton,” Elijah breathed.
“They all have to agree to it,” Shelton muttered. “And I’m not promising they’re going to.”
“Right.” Elijah took a deep breath. “We’ve got a few days before Tobi gets back. Thank you so much, Shelton.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Shelton dismissed. They had reached the edge of campus; past Elijah’s dorm, but he had stuck with Shelton to finish the discussion. “Come over to study tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it went,” he muttered, waving goodbye to his friend. He turned, heading towards the house he lived in just off campus.
Elijah gave him a brief wave, turning and walking quickly back toward his dorm. He was hopeful; even though Shelton was reticent, Elijah knew he was a good guy. He hoped Shelton’s roommates would be willing to let Punk stay.
“Hey. How’d the study session go?” he asked.
“Good.” Elijah dropped his key onto the dresser, settling into his desk chair. “I talked to Shelton, and I can’t promise anything, but you might be able to crash on his couch. Hopefully.”
“Oh, that would be great.” Punk swallowed, trying to muster up the courage to say what he’d been thinking about all morning. “Elijah, I - I really appreciate this. No one’s ever helped me before. But I - ” He took a deep, fortifying breath. “I meant it - what I said yesterday, about - about not doing that.” His voice grew a little shaky. “Just because I ended up on the streets doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for myself.”
“Punk, I don’t want - that.” Elijah glanced at the floor, clearing his throat. “To be honest, I haven’t ever…you know. That. I’m waiting for the right boy.”
“Oh.” Punk blinked in surprise. “Really? But you’re so cute.” He flushed, coughing to cover his embarrassment. “I mean - I - thank you.” He forced a smile. “Really. Thank you.”
Elijah just nodded and smiled. “You’re welcome. No kid deserves the shit you been put through. I know the manager of the video place just off campus - I got Tobi a job there at the beginning of the semester, and he hated it, just quit last week. John asked me if I knew anyone a bit more - well, responsible.” He gave a little laugh. “Tobi’s a bit of a spaz. He’d freak if he knew you were here. But he’s visiting his parents in Germany, so we’re safe until Sunday. Anyway, I can talk to John, see if you could work there.”
Punk was speechless. He had to swallow hard, gazing at Elijah in disbelief. “You - you’d get me a job?” He shook his head, embarrassed to find tears pushing at his eyes. “I don’t know what to say. That would be amazing.”
“Yeah. Well, you know, John needs a good guy.” Elijah tried to shrug it off, feeling awkward from all the emotion between them.
Punk just nodded. He unmuted the tv, pretending the current promo had caught his attention. “Oh, I love this show!”
“Me too.” Elijah felt relieved, scooting his chair over so he could watch the tv as well.
It had been two weeks. Shelton’s roommates had agreed to let Punk crash on their couch, and he was now working at the video store. They were strolling around campus at dusk, holding hands as they walked under the streetlamps which illuminated the path.
“I’ve only been there a week and a half,” Punk murmured. “John’s a real great guy, though.”
“Yeah, I really like him. He’s dating the senior who’s TA for my Physics class. Bit of a nerd, but god is he HOT. Maybe you can tag along to a study session sometime and see him,” Elijah suggested.
“Maybe.” Punk stopped them between two streetlamps, where it was just dark enough for him to summon the courage to do something he had been desiring more and more as he got to know Elijah. He leaned forward, and kissed him.
Elijah seemed surprised, but it only took him a moment to close his eyes, leaning into the kiss. They both let it linger for a moment, mutually drawing back to gaze into each other’s eyes. Punk was glad the dim light was hiding his blush. “I never did that before,” he whispered.
“It was amazing.” Elijah clasped Punk’s hands, smiling as he looking down at them. “Honestly, I always thought kissing was overrated. I kissed a few guys, and it was, you know, eh. But that - ” He swallowed, leaning forward to catch Punk’s lips in another kiss. Punk murmured his approval, moving in closer and wrapping his arms around Elijah’s neck. Elijah’s hands settled on his hips, resting there lightly as their lips moved against each other.
They were both feeling a little overheated as they drew apart. Punk swallowed, licking his lips. “Do you think Tobi’s in your room right now?” he murmured softly. “We could, you know, cuddle up on your bed and watch a movie.”
“That sounds fantastic.” Elijah half leaned forward, looking like he might go for another kiss, then drew back, clearing his throat unsurely. “I think he had his German club meeting tonight, they like to bribe a senior to buy them some German beer and get drunk at someone’s house. He’s got a buddy from Germany in the club, Jens, they like to say complicated dirty things in German and see if the other kids can understand.” He chuckled. His roommate was a quirky little German exchange student, and he always enjoyed sharing the dish about him. “Tobi’s dating a senior now, Steve I think. British guy.” They were gradually strolling towards his dorm, still holding hands. “I tell you, he’s dated a couple guys this semester, and not one of them was American. His first boyfriend, right out of freshman orientation, was an Iranian kid, Shawn Daivari. Then he dated this gorgeous Italian - Luca T-something.”
“Didn’t he have Jens over the other day?” Punk murmured. “The kid with the hot accent and the pretty brown curls, right? I thought they were dating…I bet you, before the end of the year!” He chuckled, leaning his head affectionately on Elijah’s shoulder. “I really feel at home here,” he whispered. “I - I can’t believe - I mean, it all happened so quickly - ”
Elijah shushed him as they reached the dorm, giving him a bright smile. “You deserve some major good karma after what happened to you,” he murmured. He held the door open, exchanging a smile with Punk as they entered, the door closing softly behind them.
Punk & Elijah Fic