“Good morning!” chirped the boy as you walked out of your room and into the kitchenette that sat adjacent to your front room. He was sat at the table with a messy bedhead of dyed red hair, smiling at you expectantly.
“You’re still here...” you said, taking the sight of him in.
He was cute, you decided reluctantly. It had been difficult to tell last night, when you’d been panicking and worrying about what to do with him. He was on the cusp of adulthood, with features still young and wide-eyed enough to be cute, but already blossoming into maturity. And you were staring. Mentally reprimanding yourself, you looked away.
“It’s not as if I have anywhere to go,” the boy said, strangely casual about this fact. “And I couldn’t just run off without telling you. You don’t even know my name.”
“Well, tell me your name and then you can go,” you said.
“Lee Taemin,” he said, pouting childishly. “But I’m not going. Not yet. I told you, I don’t have anywhere to go.”
“Can’t you go home to your parents or something? How old are you? You must be fifteen or sixteen.”
“Seventeen,” he said, looking mortally offended that you could mistake him for younger. “My parents... aren’t around.”
You opened a cupboard and took out a box of cereal, pouring yourself some. “Well, in any case, you can’t just stay here. I only took you in because you were in a box and it was raining and you were bleeding. I don’t even know you.”
“So get to know me!” Taemin chirped. “Can I have some cereal? I’m hungry.”
You sighed, passing him the bowl you’d already poured and fetching yourself another. This kid was walking all over you.
“You’ll have to find somewhere to go,” you said, sitting down opposite him. “Friends or relatives or something. Maybe you have an aunt or an uncle you can stay with? There has to be someone.”
Taemin’s spoonful of cereal paused on its way to his mouth. “No,” he said, suddenly somber. “There isn’t anyone.” He stared at you, eyes boring into yours. The look in them was so deep and dark, all hope gone, that you found yourself believing him. Somehow you could tell: he was telling the truth. “Sooo...” Taemin continued, perking up as quickly as his mood had just dropped. “Can’t I stay with you? Just for a little while!”
“I can’t just let some strange boy I don’t know live with me,” you sighed, shaking your head. “Where would you sleep, for starters?”
“It’s not like I’m asking to be your live-in lover,” Taemin said, making you blush. “I’m not asking to climb into bed with you. I could just be your flatmate who sleeps on the couch.”
You raised an eyebrow. “Would you pay rent?”
“Well... I kinda don’t have any money...”
“Your pet then! I could be your pet.”
You set your spoon down in your bowl with a loud clang. “My pet?”
“Right!” Taemin said, apparently pleased with himself. “Someone who lives with you and gets fed free of charge, but doesn’t sleep with you. That’s basically what a pet is, right?”
This kid really was desperate, you decided, looking at him.
“I wouldn’t chew the furniture...” he added, looking at you hopefully.
You sighed and rolled your eyes. “I’ll let you stay for a week. A week. Then you’re on your own.”
In reply he uttered a playful little bark of gratitute, and grinned mischievously at you. You put your head in your hands. What had you just agreed to?
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