You're Safe

1/1

You still remember the first time you saw him. It had been a long day at work, and your boss had finally deemed it quiet enough for you to duck outside and have something to eat for dinner. Late night shifts always sucked, but you made do. Working in a restaurant meant you didn’t go hungry, at least. Your boss was kind enough to let you steal the leftovers.

At first you hadn’t noticed the figure huddled in the corner. As you stepped out the back door in the alley you cursed, jumping back as the cold rain ran straight down the back of your chefs jacket. Grumbling under your breath you pressed your back against the wall, keeping under the little overhang to try and keep dry. You saw him as you brought the fork to your mouth to have a bite.

He was huddled in the corner, wrapped in a black raincoat and shivering violently in the rain. It wasn’t uncommon for homeless people to hide out in the alley behind your work. They stood a better chance of finding food here than anywhere else in the city. But you’d never found one hiding out here during a storm before. Usually they all gathered in the park, hiding in the forts and tunnels to avoid the rain.

You dropped your fork back to your plate as you watched the figure shudder, seeming to roll himself into a ball to keep warm. As always, your heart ached at the sight of the poor man, oblivious to you standing just a few feet behind him. But as your fork hit the plate he turned, his striking blue eyes landing on you instantly.

He looked so sad, so lost… and so alone. His eyes drifted down to the food in your hands, and you saw him lick his lips before he looked away. And you sighed. Damn it… you were hungry, but you were willing to bet he was hungrier. You’d eaten that same morning. Who knew when he last ate?

With another sigh you shoved the door open and trudged back inside, searching for the emergency umbrella Aaron kept in the back rooms. Using the umbrella to keep your food dry, you walked back outside and straight up to the poor man. He lifted his eyes to yours as you approached, and you noticed a hint of fear cross his face briefly.

“Hey, it’s alright,” you cooed softly, bending down to his level. Even though it meant you’d get wet, you held the umbrella over him and tried to pass him your food. You shivered as soon as the cold water hit you, soaking you within seconds, but you ignored it as best you could. This was a man in need, and you could warm up once inside. “Are you hungry? It’s good, I promise.”

For a moment the man didn’t move, just watched you curiously. You kept still and quiet, not wanting to scare him at all. Some of the homeless could be crazy, you’d learnt that the hard way. But this one didn’t have that crazy look about him. He just looked hopeless as he reached up and took the food from you hesitantly.

You kept the umbrella held over his head as he took his first bite. His hands shook as he moved, but once that first bite hit his tongue he was lost. It seemed like he’d forgotten you were even there as he devoured the leftovers. You realised it must have been days since he’d eaten last. He looked like he wanted to lick the plate clean when he finished.

“Go on,” you coaxed, offering him a gentle smile. “No one’s watching, and I won’t tell.”

Without a word he brought the plate to his lips and licked every last drop of sauce and crumb from the plate. Your heart ached for him, knowing he’d probably been on the streets for months, if not years. “Thank you,” he rasped when he was done, passing the plate back to you. Once again his hands were shaking.

Feeling like the food wasn’t enough, you shifted a little closer and forced your smile to grow bigger. You didn’t have long before you had to go back to work. “What’s your name, handsome?” you asked softly, risking it and reaching out to squeeze his arm lightly.

“Ca…Steve,” he answered, and you knew he was lying. But you weren’t going to push it. Keeping your smile, you pushed the umbrella into his hand.

“Hi, Steve,” you said politely once he took the umbrella from you. “Names Y/N. Listen, I have to get back to work, but if you hang around I can bring you something else when I’m finished, if you’d like?”

“I don’t want to cause any trouble,” he said softly, wrapping one arm around his knees. He averted his gaze from your eyes, for which you were grateful. Those blue eyes could turn your brain to mush if you looked too long, you were certain of it. At his words you moved your hand to his shoulder and he finally looked back up.

“It’s no hassle,” you assured him, squeezing his shoulder ever so slightly. “Just, don’t run off on me, ok? I’ll be out in a couple hours, I promise.”

For a full five minutes ‘Steve’ said nothing. Just watched you with those stunning eyes. And you were right; staring into those eyes had all thoughts save for helping him flee your mind. Finally he nodded, a small, brief smile flitting across his face.

“I’ll wait.”

**

The last two and a half hours of your shift were the longest of your entire life. All you wanted to do was go find Steve and take him home. Not for anything dirty, mind you. You just wanted to help him. Something told you that he would help you, if the roles were reversed. Something told you Steve had a kind heart.

As soon as Aaron told you to knock off you were gone. You snatched your keys, wallet, and phone from the lockers out back, barely stopping as you scooped up the container of left overs for him. To your utter relief, he was still sitting in the exact same spot when you walked out. When he looked up in surprise, you realised he hadn’t expected you to come back.

“Hey there, handsome,” you said cheerily, glad to see he’d kept the umbrella over his head. “You ready to get going?”

“Going where?” he asked cautiously as you held out your hand for him. He eyed it, but didn’t take it as he waited for your answer.

“I’m not about to let you spend the night out here in this,” you replied, bending down to his level again. You passed him the container, forcing it into his lap because you knew the warmth would help a little. Almost instinctively his arm wrapped around it. “If you’re not comfortable coming back to my place I can find you a hotel for the night?”

“I don’t want to waste your hard-earned cash,” he said, shaking his head slightly as he palmed the warmth of the container. You slapped your knees and flashed him a smile.

“My place it is then,” you pushed, once again holding your hand out for his. This time, he took it hesitantly. Your smile grew and your concern for him started to fade as he stood with you. “You’ll have to leave the umbrella here though, its not mine. Sorry.”

Steve didn’t complain as you put the umbrella back inside and locked the door. He didn’t say a word as you took his hand and led him down the alley to the street where your car was parked. Not that it mattered since you were both already soaked, you tried to keep under the overhang of the building as you walked.

As soon as you were in your car you turned the heating on full and directed the currents in his direction. The poor man was still shaking terribly. Neither of you said a word as you drove, but after a while you noticed him playing with the container idly, his gaze turned out the window.

“There’s a fork in there if you’re hungry,” you said, causing him to jump slightly as he turned to you with a questioning frown. You indicated the container with a nod of your head. “In the box. There’s a fork and spoon in there if you want to eat now. There’s still at least fifteen minutes before we reach my place.”

“Thank you,” he replied softly, turning his attention to the food right away. You supressed a laugh as he popped off the lid and took a deep breath. The smells wafted through the car, making your own stomach growl lightly. Steve glanced at you with another frown, but said nothing.

“How long’s it been since you ate last?” you asked curiously, wanting to look over but figuring it was best to keep your eyes on the road. “Before I gave you that pasta earlier I mean?”

“I’m not sure,” he answered with a shrug, as if it wasn’t important. Your heart sunk as you glanced over finally, watching him devour the chicken inside as quickly as he had the pasta. He must be really hungry…

Nothing else was said as you drove, the rain drowning out your radio. Steve was finished his food by the time you pulled up at your house, but by the look on his face you knew he was still hungry. With a light sigh you led him up your front stairs and into your house.

“Excuse the mess,” you said as you flicked on the light, shrugging out of your wet coat. Steve copied your actions, then stood awkwardly by the door, dripping onto your floor with his raincoat in his hands. “I wasn’t expecting anyone over. Just hang that up there, I’ll clean it up.”

“Thank you, for doing this,” he said softly, his eyes darting all over your house. He still hadn’t moved from the door. When his eyes found yours again, you couldn’t help but notice he didn’t look quite as sad as he had earlier. “You have no reason to trust me. Your generosity is appreciated.”

You had to admit, you were impressed. Despite being homeless he still managed to hold himself with an almost regal air. Unlike most homeless people you’d helped over the years, he enunciated each word carefully, and he seemed to have no qualms about looking you directly in the eye. You shrugged as if it were nothing, and really it wasn’t for you. It didn’t hurt you to help him.

“It’s my pleasure, Steve,” you said sweetly, grabbing his hand lightly when you realised he wasn’t going to move. “Come on, showers down this way. I bet you’re keen to get out of those wet clothes.”

“What about you?” Steve didn’t fight you as you pulled him down the hall to your downstairs bathroom. You didn’t have any clothes that would fit him, but you could throw his in the dryer while he showered. For a moment his concern over your well-being didn’t register, but when it did you were gobsmacked. “Are you not cold, also?”

This man was homeless, had literally nothing to his name, and yet instead of accepting your offer to warm up and dry off, he was concerned about you. Your heart fluttered in your chest as you smiled at him. It wasn’t often people showed concern for you, over anything. Even when you’d burnt your hand a few weeks back at work, all you’d gotten was a ‘be more careful, Y/N!’

“I can go get dressed into something warm, I’ll be fine.” You had another shower upstairs, too, so you weren’t too worried. “Go, jump in and get warm. Leave your clothes outside the door and I’ll chuck them in the dryer for you so they’re nice and warm when you hop out, ok?”

“You are very kind, Y/N,” he said softly, his face showing his sincerity at that comment. A soft smile pulled up his lips, and you grinned like a fool in return.

“I’m sure you’d do the same for me,” you quipped, pushing him through the door lightly. “Go, you’re making me cold shivering like that. I’ll go get dressed then come collect your clothes, ok?”

Steve nodded and disappeared into the bathroom, closing the door behind him without a word. You sighed, shaking your head as you turned to trudge upstairs. After stripping off your wet clothes you quickly threw on some dry ones, then snatched up your towel to try and dry your hair a little. Steve’s clothes were outside the bathroom door when you passed, the sound of the shower running inside bringing a smile to your face.

After throwing his clothes into the dryer you slumped down on your couch and began flicking through channels, trying to find something interesting to watch. You’d just settled on an old re-run of The Amazing Race when you heard a cough behind you.

“Oh my good god,” you said when you saw Steve behind you. He was completely naked. With a squeak, your cheeks burning as you blushed, you brought your hand up to cover your eyes. “Um, Steve?”

“Yes, Y/N?”

“What are you doing?” He’s naked! Yes, I know, I saw… Oh good god what have you done? A cute, homeless, naked man stood in your living room, and all you could do was pant and squeeze your eyes shut.

“I did not know where you put my clothes,” he stated, no hint of embarrassment in his tone. Maybe this guy was crazy after all. “Am I making you uncomfortable?”

“Yeah,” you squeaked, dropping your hand low enough to see his face and nothing else. You’d seen enough, and you knew you wouldn’t be able to control yourself if you looked again. Come on, the dude was attractive after all. You coughed and covered your eyes again. “Look, go wait in the bathroom, I’ll bring you your clothes, ok?”

“Ok.” When you looked up again, your eyes drifted down to his butt as he walked away. Oh good god, Y/N what the fuck have you gotten yourself into? This wasn’t the first time you’d let a homeless person stay over, but it was certainly the first time they’d trudged around your house butt-naked. It didn’t help that he was so good looking.

Once Steve had his clothes back on and was all cleaned up he actually looked half-presentable. More like an office worker than a homeless person, but that was probably all he had. Perhaps he’d been a worker before the depression hit.

“You look almost human,” you joked, tugging on the sleeve of his white, button up shirt. Steve frowned at you, his mouth opening only to close again moments later. You decided it was best to ignore it for now. “Do you feel any better?”

“Yes, thank you,” he answered promptly, but you could see he was still upset. Of course, you knew it would take more than one simple act of kindness to take away that pain. Things grew rather awkward for a moment, both of you just standing there looking at anything but each other.

“Well, uh,” you started, spreading your arms wide before dropping them to your sides again. “I’m pretty beat. I bet you’re pretty tired too, hey?”

“A little,” he shrugged dismissively, his eyes finally coming up to meet yours. You swallowed audibly, offering him an awkward smile.

“Come on, I’ll show you to your room.” You let Steve go upstairs ahead of you, flicking off lights as you went. Once you reached your spare room you stopped and pushed the door open for him. “There you go. Excuse the flowery bed sheets, my sisters the only one who visits me normally.”

“I do not think the flowers will impede my sleep,” he said, his eyes darting all over the room as he stood in the door way.

“Well… goodnight, Steve,” you replied after a moment, turning to head to your own room. “I’m just down here if you need anything.”

“Y/N?” he called as you reached your door. God your name sounded so good in his low rasp. You turned, leaving your hand on the door frame as you smiled at him. “I don’t…” he seemed nervous, fiddling with his hands as he glanced down at his feet. “I don’t want to be alone.”

Heart aching, you slowly started back towards him. He didn’t look up as you stopped before him, ducking your head to try and see his face. He’d probably been alone for so long now you wondered if he remembered what it was like to be with someone else. To have someone comfort him as if he mattered.

With a confidence that was so unlike you, you reached up and lifted his head with a hand on his chin. His blue eyes were filled with tears, and without thinking you pulled him into your arms and squeezed. Steve’s arms came up around you slowly, before he buried his face in your hair.

When you pulled away his face fell, until you took his hand in yours and started walking backwards to your room. He followed you slowly, his eyes roaming your face as you smiled gently. He didn’t say a word as you pulled the covers back, then pushed him down to sit on the edge of your bed.

“Are you not afraid to have a strange man in your bed?” he asked as you climbed up beside him, pushing him back on the pillows gently. “You don’t even know me.”

“I know enough,” you replied, curling up beside him after flicking off your bedside lamp. “You won’t hurt me, you’re too kind.”

“How do you know that?” he queried, frowning at you as you hovered over him. You shrugged, pushing him onto his side away from you, then pressing yourself into his back. Your hand found his damp hair and you ran your fingers through it, mesmerised at the silky soft strands.

“I just do,” you replied softly, lightly stroking his head as you wrapped your arm around his waist. Without pausing to think about it, you leaned down and pressed a light kiss to his cheek before curling up behind him. “Go to sleep, Steve. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere. You’re safe…”

“Thank you, Y/N,” he breathed, his body relaxing into your embrace as he sighed in content. Before long, quicker than you’d expected, Steve’s breathing evened out. You shifted, propping yourself up on your elbow to look down at his sleeping face highlighted by the street lights outside.

“It’s my pleasure, Steve,” you whispered faintly, pressing another light kiss to his shoulder before laying down once more. You continued to stroke his hair until you fell asleep too.