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Tramps Like Us

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Pata sat in his cardboard box and tried to sleep, despite the cold night air and the sounds of trains passing overhead. He was exhausted by his long day of wandering the streets, searching for anything of any value to sell for food. Eventually he had swallowed his pride and headed for a soup kitchen, where he had his only hot meal of the day. It wasn’t easy being homeless but he had no choice.

“That’s my box.” Came a familiar voice and Pata groaned as he opened his eyes to find a mad looking Yu~ki standing over him.

“This is my box,” Pata announced just like he did every night. “You sleep in that doorway. Remember?”

“Doorway? I’m not a tramp!” Yu~ki announced.

“Sure. And I’m the Prime Minister.” Pata agreed.

“Oh yes. Hello sir!” Yu~ki announced. “I shall go stand guard at your house!” he added, going to stand in his doorway. Pata sighed and shut his eyes again knowing the poor man would soon be asleep in his usual spot. He may be homeless but at least he still had his sanity. The one thing they couldn’t take from him, no matter how hard they tried.

 

Chachamaru sighed as he headed outside from the LA recording studio. He understood why Gackt wanted to record his new album here, as being a celebrity definitely had it’s disadvantages. It made sense he would want to escape to the states where he was less well known. Still the smoking laws here were nothing but a pain and meant he had to smoke in a back alley every time he needed a cigarette. Maybe he should have quit with Gackt and You. His life would certainly be easier now.

Feeling a little jealous and resentful of his friends, who no longer had this craving, he lit up a cigarette. His rational side knew he shouldn’t be annoyed but that just made it worse. At least he had the self control to stay pleasant with them, nicotine addiction was a terrible thing.

The first puff was always the best. Driving away the majority of his cravings and calming his mood. A lot more relaxed now he took notice of his surroundings. There were a couple of homeless men who appeared to be sleeping in the alley which surprised Chacha, as he hadn’t noticed them before. It occurred to him that it was already late and therefore dark. He really should be heading back for the hotel right now but they were behind schedule and so they had stayed late to finish this recording. Yet another cause of stress for them all. Especially Gackt himself who was in charge of everything, unwilling to lose any control unless things got truly desperate.

 

Pata watched the man in the door way as he smoked his cigarette. He didn’t normally pay attention to them, rich men who seemed to ignore his very existence, but this one seemed different. Something about him seemed kinder and gentler than the rest.

‘I must be tired,’ Pata decided. ‘Why should he be any different to the rest?’ Pata coughed and scowled. His throat had been bothering him all day.

“You OK?” asked the man in the doorway sounding worried. There eyes met and Pata could see sympathy in his expression. “You don’t sound so good.”

“Just a cough.” Pata said with a shrug and the man nodded thoughtfully.

“Sounds bad,” The man commented as he finished his cigarette. “Want to come inside for a bit?”

“No.” Pata announced firmly. It was never a good idea to accept such an invitation, even if the man meant him no harm, he’d feel like he owed him something. A non-repayable debt, yet another thing to bug his conscience.

“Well can I at least get you a coffee or something?” the man asked. Now that was tempting.

“No. I’m fine.” Pata said firmly and the man gave him a disbelieving look.

“I have to be getting back,” The man sighed. “You sure there’s no way I can help you? Money? Food? A blanket maybe?”

“Nothing.” Pata firmly announced and the man nodded.

“Well if you change your mind, I’ll be back in an hour or so. When we finish work. Last cigarette before I leave.” The man announced. Pata gave him no answer and reluctantly the man headed back into the building, most likely to forget his entire existence.

 

Chacha couldn’t help but worry about the poor homeless man outside. That cough hadn’t sounded healthy at all. Still what could he do if the man wouldn’t let him help?

Time seemed to drag on forever and it didn’t help that they finished work half an hour later than they had anticipated.

“See ya!” Gackt called as he and You almost ran out of the building. No guessing where they were going, they’d been unable to stop touching each other all night.

“Have a good fuck!” Ju Ken shouted after them, disappointed at the lack of response.

“I better go too,” Jun Ji announced trying to hide a yawn. “I didn’t get much sleep last night.” He explained.

“See you tomorrow.” Chacha said not making a big deal of it. It wasn’t in his nature to tease people about these things.

“Maybe you should start taking naps.” Ju Ken joked.

“Why? I’m not old like you.” Jun Ji retorted, leaving with a smug expression as Ju Ken searched for a fitting retort.

“Leave it,” Chacha replied. “You having a smoke before you leave?”

“Yeah.” Ju Ken agreed distractedly. He was trying to think of a way to punish Jun Ji for his cheek.

The two men headed outside and Ju Ken lit up his cigarette quickly wanting to get out of the cold weather as fast as possible.

“He looks bad.” Chacha said staring at a homeless man on the floor. He was asleep but his body was shaking and coughing every so often.

“He does.” Ju Ken agreed with some pity. Still he was surprised to find Chacha go over to him to see if he was all right.

“Ju Ken! He’s really sick. I think he has a fever,” Chacha called back as he examined the unconscious man. “Come on wake up.” He said gently shaking the guys shoulder. He got no response and it soon became apparent that the man wasn’t going to awaken.

“He’s really bad.” Ju Ken commented growing worried.

“Maybe we should take him inside? He can’t sleep out here in the cold when he’s sick.” Chacha announced.

“I don’t know.” Ju Ken said doubtfully. He was thinking about the expensive equipment in the building behind him.

“He might die.” Chacha scolded and Ju Ken nodded and reluctantly put out his cigarette so he could help Chacha carry the man inside.

“Hey! Where are you taking the Prime Minister!” shouted another homeless man, who had been sleeping in a doorway.

“Inside because he’s sick,” Chacha explained. “We’re going to take care of him.”

“We’re his bodyguards.” Ju Ken added and the homeless man nodded.

“I hope Pata gets well soon.” The homeless man announced as he curled up to go back to sleep.

“Pata.” Chacha repeated wondering if that was his name.

“What are we going to do?” Ju Ken asked as he helped Chacha lie the man down on the nearest sofa inside.

“Let him sleep here,” Chacha announced. “Don’t worry I’ll stay to keep an eye on him.”

“You sure?” Ju Ken asked sceptically.

“Yeah. Do you mind getting me some things?” Chacha asked.

“Sure. I’ll stay with you.” Ju Ken added. “What do you need?”

“Medicine for him, if you can find anywhere open. Food, he’s probably starving, a change of clothes, my toothbrush,” Chacha began to list and Ju Ken nodded after each item before going of to get the things Chacha had requested and some things for himself.

 

When Pata awoke his first thought was ‘It’s warm!’ his second ‘Where am I?’ and his third ‘I hope I’m not about to be raped!’ He had good reason to be scared of the last one, as it had happened once before. Not wanting to dwell on his bad memories he opened his eyes and instinctively took a defensive posture.

So he wasn’t tied down? That was good. It lowered the chances of being harmed quite significantly but not enough to lower his guard.

“Why am I here?” Pata demanded shaking slightly. He felt terrible and wondered if he’d been drugged.

“You’re sick,” The man from before answered. “I thought if I left you outside you’d die.”

“Oh… thanks.” Pata muttered as he tried to stand up. His legs felt weak and it took a lot of effort but eventually he was standing.

“You really should stay.” The man warned and feeling too sick to argue Pata sank back into the sofa.

“I can’t stay.” Pata muttered.

“Why not? What harm would it do sleeping here just one night?” the man asked.

“I can’t owe people anything. I…” Pata muttered before yawning. He was so tired, and it was so warm and dry.

“You won’t owe me anything,” The man said with a kind smile. “Just trust me.”

“I will.” Pata muttered sleepily. He was so ill and this man seemed so nice but he couldn’t trust him. He couldn’t owe him. He couldn’t….

 

Chacha gasped as the man before him collapsed, thankfully onto the sofa but still. He really was sick. His resolve made up, Chacha pulled the blankets back over the homeless man. He was in no state to leave and no matter how much he argued Chacha wouldn’t let him go until the morning.

 

Ju Ken returned about an hour after he had originally left, carrying some bags filled with provisions.

“I got medicine.” Ju Ken said pulling a bottle out of his pocket and Chacha nodded as he took it off him.

“I suppose we should wake him up?” Chacha asked sounding a little unsure.

“Hey you, wake up.” Ju Ken said shaking the homeless man firmly. He was met by a pair of chocolate brown eyes filled with fear.

“I’ll get out.” The homeless man muttered trying to sit up only to be pushed down.

“No you won’t. My friend Chacha here has put himself out helping you, the least you can do is be grateful.” Ju Ken ordered firmly.

“I can’t…” Pata whispered but seeing the look in Ju Ken’s eyes he remained silent. He wasn’t going anywhere without a fight. That much was obvious. Chacha seemed nice though, maybe they were trying to help him? He could only hope so because escaping was obviously not an option in his condition. He couldn’t over power two twelve year old children right now, never mind fully grown men.

“We’ve got you some medicine.” Chacha said kindly as he handed the unopened bottle to Pata along with a spoon. He figured that even Pata would trust a factory sealed bottle to be untouched. It was a good decision as Pata made no secret about checking the seal before opening the bottle and taking the correct dose of medicine.

“Thanks.” Pata muttered shyly unused to others taking care of him. Already the medicine was making him feel better, only a little but it helped.

“Why are you so scared of getting help?” Chacha asked, but Pata shook his head and refused to answer. “What’s your name? Can you tell me that?” Chacha tried.

“Pata.” Came the reply. Just one word, nothing more.

“I’m Chachamaru and this is Ju Ken,” Chacha introduced them. “We’re not going to hurt you. I just felt sorry for you being out in the cold sick. You can trust me.” No answer. But Chacha had already expected that. Pata didn’t trust him and that was that.

“Are you hungry? We have food.” Chacha replied and the other man shook his head. ‘Liar’ Chacha thought. “Well Ju Ken and I are going to eat so we’ll cook you something anyway.”

 

The next morning, fed and feeling a lot better Pata awoke to find the two other men asleep on the floor by the sofa he had made his bed. Carefully he got up and headed outside. He paused at the doorway wondering if he should say goodbye. They had been so nice to him after all. But how could he repay them for their kindness? There was nothing he could do for them.

Spotting a pad of paper on the table he picked up a pen and wrote two words ‘Thank you’ before leaving silently from the building. He’d never forget the kindness of these strangers but they lived in a world completely alien to his own. He couldn’t fit in with them and so it was best to leave without a scene.

 

Chacha sighed as he went outside to smoke in the alley where he had met Pata. He was gone now, he hadn’t seen him for days. The crazy man who called Pata ‘Prime Minister’ had gone too. Maybe he had gone with Pata? They did seem to be friendly.

“Looking for him again?” Ju Ken asked quietly and Chacha nodded.

“We’re going home tomorrow. I wanted to see him one last time.” Chacha sighed.

“Search for him then. He’s got to be on the streets somewhere.” Ju Ken remarked and Chacha nodded.

“I will. Just as soon as we finish here.” He replied.

“Go now.” Ju Ken advised and stubbornly Chacha shook his head.

“Gackt needs me.” He replied finishing his cigarette and stomping it out. “Later.”

 

Later came earlier than expected and Chacha went out in search of the man presumably named Pata. He had no proof that was even his real name but thankfully it was the name he was using for everyone as he found a homeless man who knew where he’d been staying.

“He’s staying behind the cinema,” Came the drunken homeless man’s answer. “With some crazy guy who thinks he’s the Prime Minister.”

“Thank you!” Chachamaru politely replied as he headed in the right direction.

‘I hope he’s there.’ He thought as he walked around to the back of the cinema.

“Pata you’re bodyguard is here!” called out the excited voice of the crazy man.

“My bodyguard?” came Pata’s voice as he appeared from a doorway and noticed Chacha.

“Chachamaru!” he exclaimed in surprise.

“I’m leaving tomorrow morning. I wanted to say goodbye.” Chacha explained.

“I don’t want any goodbyes.” Pata replied.

“I know. I figured that from your note.” Chacha sighed.

“Well, thank you.” Pata replied turning his back on Chacha.

“That’s it?” Chacha asked. “After all I did for you, you turn your back?”

“You’re the one who said you didn’t want anything in return,” Pata replied turning back to face the man who helped him. “I can’t repay you. You know that.”

“You can!” Chacha replied. “You can repay me by letting me help you.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Pata remarked, clearly shocked by what he considered to be insanity.

“Come back with me. You can stay in my house, I’ll help you find a job. Have a life,” Chacha begged. “Please let me help you.”

“A man like me can’t get a job.” Pata scoffed.

“You can. Easy. I have a lot of contacts. I can find someone who will hire you,” Chacha replied. “Come on Pata. You let me help you once.”

“What about Yu~ki? I can’t leave him. He needs me.” Pata said quietly, not wanting the other man to hear.

“He can come too.” Chacha promised.

“Why will helping me, help you?” Pata asked “What do you want?”

“It’ll give me a sense of purpose,” Chacha explained. “I like helping people and you seem like a nice guy.”

“I think we should go Prime Minister. You should listen to your bodyguard.” Came Yu~ki’s answer.

“Well if it’s for Yu~ki….” Pata reluctantly agreed with a small smile. “Thank you. You truly are my bodyguard after all.”

“And maybe one day, you might just be Prime Minister.” Chachamaru teased, with a smile of his own.