Okay...um...HEY GUYS! hehe. Um...to put to bluntly, I think this chapter isn't as good as all the others, and I'm sorry:Bows: I just have a lot of things on my mind right now and I wanted to rush a chapter out so I didn't get beheaded...:points to Terri and smiles: Anyway, shoutout time!

LadywolfTerri: My number one fan :Tackles: Malik's answer at first is like O.O but...eh...stupid head Malik should know better! Anyway, just like last chapter, this is just for Terri, since she's the one who will constatnly IM me and beg for it :3

KitsuneNekoYoukai: Hi hi to you too :3 I'm glad you like the story and I hope you enjoy this chapter too.

trekkie-54: hehe, yes, Ryou is really cool in this story. Unlike how the Americans portray him as the kind, shy, and gentle little Brit...but hey, I can deal...hehe..Thanks for reading!

Ange of Faith: Thanks for reading! I'm glad you're enjoying it!

Well, here's Chapter 4 of 'This Is What I Call Life'! Enjoy!

Malik: Okay...Kei doesn't own me and Ryou, but the character of Sumire is hers.
Sumire: DADDY:Tackles:
Malik: Heh...enjoy.

Chapter 4: Reacquainted Stranger

Malik's jaw hung slack as the world seemed to endlessly turn, dizzying visions cascading before his violet eyes. Was he hearing this? Was this all a dream? Yes, that's it, a dream, nothing more. It was so clear! He hadn't just spilled his entire past to someone he had known for a few moments and in the past, shared only a few words with, and that same person hadn't just extended a saintly hand, offering a new home, and maybe even a new life. This was all just a big illusion that would seen come to a crashing, booming halt, cue the tanned one jolting up from the couch in a cold sweat, panting. It was the same every time something nice would present itself, he would wake up and find himself lost in the same darkness, never finding the light to guide his desolate path. But this time, it seemed that Malik didn't want to wake up. He tried everything to wake up from this thought of dream, but nothing would shake him. The tanned one knew this may have been real when he heard a soft voice and felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Malik, did you hear me?" Apparently, minutes had past and all Ryou could see is Malik standing there, wavering a bit in his stance, a look of deep thought consuming his face. Ryou's soft smile was still painted across his lips delicately as he repeated himself, something Malik could only wish for. "I want you and Sumire to come and stay with me"

"Ryou, of course not!" The ashen haired one's eyes widened. His offer was just shot down? Even Malik couldn't believe what had just come out of his mouth. He shook his head, a now stubborn tone of voice taking place of the one of sheer disbelief. "Ryou, I barley know you. Who am I to think you're not some serial rapist or something, that the minute I turn my back, you won't have my way with my daugh-" What happened next, Malik deserved, oh boy, did he deserve it. Ryou had advanced upon Malik and with an open palm, burning with anger, he slapped Malik clear across the face, each slender finger leaving their mark along the Egyptian's caramel colored cheek. He stood there in shock, as now it was time for Ryou to bare his ivory fangs and snarl, hiss at the one who had thought to little of him.

"Malik, I can't believe you would think something like that of me! I mean, I know in this world, there aren't many you can trust, but all I have done was show you kindness and this is what you think of me!" He seemed rather upset by the comment, his body trembling in a nervous rage. Why a nervous rage, some would ask, but all in all, no matter how much he tried to avoid saying so, Ryou hated confrontations. He was just one to say the big words, never back them up. He continued, his breathing picking up a bit. "All I want to do is help you and your daughter! That's it! I know what it's like only living with one parent cause my Goddamned father left me and my mother long ago! It's something I hated seeing, a child growing up with only one parent, and I want to help you! I know I can never be a mother or father to Sumire, but I can try to help her..." He didn't know why, the reason would never present itself, but Ryou felt the warmth of tears collecting in his eyes, a few escaping down his cheek. No, he wouldn't reason with him. Ryou knew what Malik thought of him and that's it. Angrily, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, and despite that fact that all he did was write off and on, he was pretty, to put it bluntly, loaded. His mother, the kind woman that she was, supported her baby boy even outside their home, and much to Ryou's chagrin, sent him money every two weeks, and a hefty sum at that. Ryou's mother had injured herself, and was collecting a rather large sum of money, so what better way to spend it then to support her starving artist son!

"R-ryou, what are you doing?"

From out of the wallet, two fifty dollar bills were pulled with ease (Being the neat freak he was, all of his money was categorized from greatest to least in numerical order). Malik's eyes only followed his actions as the other man threw down the money at his feet. "Paying my whore. Since I can't reason with you, I'm not going to waste my time talking to something denser then the foundation this hellhole was built on!" His voice trembled with the failure of lending a helping hand. He had never been more insulted, and he didn't know why it hurt so much to be turned down to someone who would consider him on to attack small children. Something about that just seemed to strike a cord, so Ryou would simply leave, forget everything he saw today, forget everything he heard, but one thing he knew he could never forget was the tanned figure that haunted his visions, the plague that beautifully took over his mind, body, and soul, crept deep into his head, and began to fester and consume all of his being. All of this threw Malik into a state of stunned silence. He swallowed hard and began to rewind, fast forward, rewind, fast forward, pause, and see the look on Ryou's face, one of the sincerest of agony and the purest pain, drained right from the heart. Malik couldn't believe it! Someone was crying, and crying for him. Maybe it was exactly for Malik, maybe it was for the little girl who lived a life unsuited, but still, his face was still scattered amongst Ryou's thoughts, and this made the strong tanned one sniffle a bit. Lifting his face, sadly, he only saw Ryou's back as he stormed towards the door.

"Ryou, wait."

"No, Malik. Don't even try it now! I made my offer an..."

"I'd be honored if you allowed me and Sumire to stay with you...please." Ryou halted, in both movement and speech and stood facing away from Malik. He couldn't reveal the tears that trickled down his cheeks, and he couldn't explain why. He didn't know why he cried for something so trivial as a rejected housing proposal. Something within him just seemed to ache, seem to shatter as he was so hastily turned down. He, Malik, was nothing more then a reacquainted stranger, nothing more then a face in the crowd that just so happened to walk by once more, and why did Ryou feel the need to want to continue to see that face over and over again? Slowly, Ryou turned to face Malik, and as if but a brilliant act, he smiled as if nothing were the matter, but deep inside, Ryou jumped for joy as now, he wouldn't have to live alone, though he thought, since when did that ever bother me? Another question with no possible answer that would make sense to Ryou even now.

"I'm glad you finally see it my way." A facade, an act executed perfectly, as a little bit of that sarcasm that had been absent returned. Within, he let out a sigh of relief, knowing that this would be a journey on a road less traveled, but often looked at. "Tomorrow, I'll come by with a few of my friends, and we'll start the move. I'll be here ar-" Before Ryou could utter the final words of his sentence, he felt a pair of strong arms embrace him, a warm sensation running up and down his spine. He felt his stomach tie itself into oversized knots. The ashen haired one was rather stunned, as he stood motionless for a moment, until he wrapped his arms around the other, embracing him rather gently.

"Ryou, thank you. I-I couldn't' have asked for any more of you. You have saved my daughter and me...thank you. I am forever in your debt." Speechless, Ryou let his jaw hang slack before he mentally slapped himself and regained that solemn composure. "No problem, Malik. If anything, it is I who is in your debt..."

"No, Ryou...you've done more for me..."

"But, Malik, if you hadn't helped me..."

"Listen..." Malik pulled away and grabbed Ryou's hand, grasping it tightly within both of his. Even the slightest touch made Ryou's heart began to race, and he still had not the slightest clue why! Sighing softly, he let go of Ryou's hand and now extended one finger, his pinkie, as he looked up to Ryou with a juvenile smile. "Sumire and I always do this. If I make a promise to her, or she to me, we always pinkie swear it. I don't know why," He chuckled, blushing a bit at how childish he thought he sounded. "It's just, when we pinkie swear on something, it always works." Ryou looked at him, a bit dumbfounded, as Malik was muttering, mumbling, stammering, and slurring his works, but he roughly got the idea as he extended his slender finger to Malik's and hugged his pinkie to Malik's. Together, as odd as it sounded, they recited the same two words that would seem to seal their newly formed bond.

"We're even."

Ryou left the rundown little apartment, refusing Malik's invitation to be escorted. He knew Malik's place, and that was to watch over little Sumire as she slept peacefully, unaware of the new changes that were about to take place. He had pondered this quite thoroughly, wondering how Sumire would react to moving away, leaving her friends and beginning and new life with another man in her father's life. No! Not that way! He thought, knowing that his thoughts were a bit suggestive. He knew that even if he tried, or wanted to, he could never take the place of a mother in Sumire's heart. He didn't want to, nor did he have right to! He just wanted to give Sumire a better life then Malik could provide.

Such cruel thoughts! Ryou, how could you even think things like that! Malik is trying as hard as he can, and there you go with the insults!

He nodded in agreement with his mind, quickening his pace. Ryou knew that Malik's profession was one to be looked down upon, but he seemed to be good at it, so why did it matter? As long as it put food on the table, right?

Good, Ryou. You're finally starting to see that Malik is sacrificing his body, his pride, to feed his daughter. It's not like he wants to do what he's doing. Maybe it's his only choice

Could have been. Either way, Malik supported Sumire alone for this long, and it was time for Malik to have a little assistance. Ryou remembered quite vividly the hardships his mother and himself had to face when his father decided parenting wasn't his scene, and left...almost exactly how Sumire's mother left her. They weren't so different, Sumire and Ryou, a common bond of a fled parent would hold them together, and make Ryou further believe that he would be one to help Sumire and her father, and give them a better life.

He returned home at about four in the morning, fatigued in both mind and body, as he nestled into his bed. He remembered the bills sitting upon the table, knowing that his two guests would need the heat, the lights, and most other things Ryou didn't necessarily need. He would send them out tomorrow morn...err...in a few hours, and everything would be ready for their arrival. He would only rest his eyes briefly, he told himself, before venturing off to start a new journey, but he wouldn't be alone this time. He would have two new companions, those he hoped would be better acquaintances then the night.

Ryou felt into a somber slumber, knowing full well that he, like Malik had done, would have to make sacrifices, but he knew that they'd be well worth it.