This was tough. I can relate to a lot of Maureen's ways, but I can't seem to really "get" her... so I just let my liberal freak mind go nuts.

Disclaimer: Don't own.


By Donna

Maureen sat next to Mark, her gangly legs tangled up in his lap. Roger wasn't home yet, probably still out with April, and Collins... where the hell was Collins!

She looked around. "Hey... where's Collins?"

Mark said, "Don't go looking for him."

"Why?" Maureen asked.

"He has... something... to deal with."

"Oh God! What happened?"

"He just found out he's positive."



Maureen gasped. "Oh... no! No!" She jumped up. "Where is he?"

"He's probably on the stoop. He looks so... sad. Just... don't annoy him or nothing, Maureen."

Maureen shook out her hair. "I'm not going to do that..."

She left the loft and ran towards the bottom floor of the apartment complex. She walked out of the exit and saw Collins, leaning against the bottom of the doorway, wiping away his tears. He looked up at Maureen. "Hey."

Maureen bent down. "Hey. I heard. You wanna talk about it?"

Collins shook his head. "It figured, right? I'm the gay guy in the group. Roger doesn't have it. He shoots up all the time. April doesn't have it. She shoots up all the time..."

"Don't say that, Collins," Maureen murmured, "You know it's not that. Maybe this can be for the greater good!"

"How can this be for the 'greater good!'" Collins hissed.

She pulled back. "Uhm... you'll see."

He rolled his eyes. "Okay. We'll see. Indeed."

He was still Collins. No disease could take that away from him.

The next day, Maureen ran into the loft, grabbing Collins. Collins, still in his stupor. She screamed, "Come on, Collins! Check this out!"

They arrived at City Hall. There was a good twenty people with signs and red ribbons. Collins gasped. "What..."

Everyone cleared a path for Maureen and her guest of honor. She pulled him up on the staircase and she cupped her hands, screaming, "ACTUAL REALITY!" She raised Collins' fist, "ACT UP! FIGHT AIDS!"

Everyone screamed in reply, "ACTUAL REALITY! ACT UP! FIGHT AIDS!"

"Say it, Collins!" Maureen demanded.

He nodded, booming, "Actual reality! Act up! Fight AIDS!"

Maureen grinned widely. "Hells yeah! FIGHT AIDS!"

Everyone began to chant, raising their signs of "Cure AIDS!" "We need a cure as much as we need a fund!" and "STOP AIDS!"

Collins looked at Maureen and started, "Is this for..."

"...For you?" Maureen asked, "Of course, sweetie! You're my buddy! My fellow anarchist!"

"So..." Collins started.

"We're a brotherhood! A kinship! We're forcing changes, risking dangers, making noise..."

Collins cut her off with a big smile. "You're awesome."

Maureen didn't really take much thought of AIDS as the Benny drama came up. She didn't take much thought of AIDS as so many people came into her life, like Mimi, the not-so-innocent dancer girl that somehow made a way to Roger, who was at that point April-less, courtesy of suicide after a realization of having AIDS. And she certainly didn't take much thought as she met Angel, who was probably the polar opposite of most people with the disease. She didn't fully realize the magnitude of that acronym until she stood in the church, her fellow anarchist pouring his heart to the audience in front of him. And, so, when everyone began to sing with him, she tried to scream so loud her vocal chords would give out, trying to show him that she was still there and she would always be there and willing to take as many chances as he would allow them to take.

So the day after Christmas, which would have been a year of Angel and Collins' chance-meeting, she had another protest for AIDS. This time, fifty people showed up, but her message was still the same: "ACTUAL REALITY! ACT UP! FIGHT AIDS!"

And Collins approved, not being afraid to yell with her.