Disclaimer: I don't own it and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the man who does. Jonathan Larson, Rest in Peace.
AN: Just something that popped into my head. I could never imagine Angel's hospital room being bare, so this is how I think it would have been spiced up. It may be different in the film – I haven't seen it in a while (Darn these late Australian DVD releases!) – but I hope ya'll enjoy it and leave me a review, good or bad.
Collins watched Angel as she slept, her chest barely moving as she breathed in and out. Just looking at her made Collins want to shut his eyes and go to sleep, dreaming about the way things used to be, before they ended up here, in this nightmare of hospitals, tests, sympathetic doctors and false cheer. But Collins shook his head, rubbing his eyes with one hand fiercely to rouse himself. He would not go to sleep. Not yet. He didn't want Angel to be alone when she woke up.
He tried thinking of ways to occupy himself. It would be at least an hour before any of their friends got here – Joanne and Mimi were at work, Roger was at a job interview and Mark was shooting footage of Maureen rehearsing for her next show. Collins knew they would all – every single one – drop everything and come to Angel if she needed them, but it was her request that they leave her for a while to go out and do their own thing.
'I know I'm high maintenance, but honestly, I can look after myself' she had smiled, firmly, but playfully, as Collins winced inwardly at the irony 'Go out for the day and come back to tell me what's happening in my beloved city.'
Reluctantly, they had agreed, all but Collins. Angel and the rest of the gang had just about given up trying to move him from his seemingly permanent fixture to Angel's bedside. Angel had laced her fingers through Collins, merging the contrasting shades of their skin; coffee-brown and Hispanic tan. They had stayed like that all afternoon, even now, as she slept, and their fingers were more of a loose tangle than an affectionate grip.
Collins turned to the little table on his other side to see the familiar red, plastic photo frame situated there. Every time Mark had come to visit, he would change the photo displayed. They were all from his collection of film and stills. Today it was a picture of Angel and Collins on Christmas Eve at the Life Café. Angel was smiling at the camera, her face emanating that brilliant glow that simply couldn't be pretended, the one that, until last week, had seemed to grace her endlessly. She had her slender arms wrapped around Collin's neck, pressing the sides of their faces together as he lifted her into the air. He was in the middle of yelling something. Collins smiled to himself. If he remembered correctly, he'd been more than a little tipsy and was berating Mark, who'd pinched Benny's camera and was the one taking the photo, for not trying his pasta with meatless balls.
There was a posy of daisies in a little, purple, very lopsided, ceramic vase by the photo frame. Joanne had made the vase years ago at a lawyer's retreat. Collins still remembered the time he and Angel had dropped round to watch Maureen's rehearsal. Joanne's vase had been sitting on a pile of old newspapers by the front door. Angel had swooped down on it immediately, cooing and exclaiming in delight upon the colour, the shape, everything. Joanne was bewildered, yet hurriedly informed her she was welcome to it, seeing as it was just going to be thrown out with the newspapers. Apparently Joanne wasn't very proud of it – it had been sitting in the bathroom cupboard since it had returned from the retreat. But, Angel's loving attitude toward the less-than-perfect was apparently not limited to people. And from that day forward, Joanne's wonky, neglected vase had stood proudly on the counter of Angel's tiny apartment.
Benny had brought the daisies. He had showed up one afternoon, not long after Angel had been admitted and stood awkwardly at the door to the room, clutching the small bunch of flowers self-consciously when he saw Maureen, Joanne, Mark, Roger and Mimi standing around Collins and Angel. No one had noticed him until Angel had spoken up, her voice cracking as she raised it. She'd asked him cheerfully to come in, ignoring the silence that had fallen on the group as they shot him a collective hostile glance. He'd mumbled something about needing to be somewhere but Angel had waved his excuse away, beckoning him to the bed. She'd grasped his hand. Told him how sweet the flowers were, taking them in her thin hands and smelling them with ecstasy. And not one snide remark, nor haughty glance was thrown in Benny's direction that afternoon.
Collins noted the state of the daisies. They were wilting. He wanted to go to the hospital store and get some more so they'd be fresh when Angel woke. But he didn't. He didn't want her to wake up alone. He lightly squeezed her hand as he leaned backwards in the chair. His eyes now wandered to Angel's wig, removed from its usual perch on her head, and was now hanging on the edge of the bed.
A plastic bag of brightly coloured fabric and ribbons spilled over the bed sheets near Angel's feet. Mimi had brought over spare cut-offs from her aunt's sewing box and was in the process of completing a brand new outfit for Angel to wear once she was discharged. Angel and Mimi had laboured over it for hours already, discussing fabrics and comparing the colours with Angel's wig and skin tone, which, though no one was admitting it, was growing paler each passing day. But without fail, every afternoon, Mimi would arrive bursting with ideas and Angel would sit up, no matter how much sleep the nurses had recommended, and grab the new fabrics or designs and get to work, talking loudly, and laughing, drawing disapproving stares from the nurses. One part of Collins wanted to push Mimi out the door and force Angel to get some rest, but the other part, the stronger part, preferred to watch her be happy, and knew Angel was too stubborn to succumb to orders she didn't appreciate.
Roger's guitar was propped against the door, looking as if it were somehow incomplete without it's usual extension of Roger's body. He had brought it here begrudgingly, on Angel's request in order to play her something. When he had protested she sat up very straight and fixed him with a beady eye. 'Roger Davis' she had started 'I am in a hospital. I HATE hospitals, with the same fiery intensity that I possess in love for this man here' she indicated Collins 'and if you are going to deny me my wish for your sweet musical talent, I will ask Mimi to beat you with said guitar, seeing as I myself am bedridden'. Roger had drawn the guitar to him, mumbling almost inaudibly, but as soon as he started to play, Angel relaxed back into her pillow, her eyes shut, tears escaping from beneath her lashes as the broken twangs and Roger's rough voice, gentler than it had ever been, filled the room. Collins had reached for Angel's hands as her tears continued to flow and she had spoken through a dry sob. 'Thankyou…' Roger finished his song and left the room, his eyes hidden behind a curtain of hair, his emotion, Angel's emotion, having got the better of him.
That had been 3 days ago, and since then, Roger had been back, offering to play Angel another song and letting her pick the tune. The guitar had certainly been a change from the recorded tapes stacked on the windowsill. Collins' eyes now fell to the beaten up cassette player left by Maureen that was her birthday present for Angel a month ago. Every visit, Maureen had been bringing in a new cassette of a song she'd taped herself, sure Angel would like it. The Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Supremes, even some Elvis – Maureen's tastes covered all genres. Angel played the tapes non-stop (when Roger wasn't on his guitar), using them to drown out the miserable sounds of the hospital and it's occupants. She was always so pleased when a new one came, partially for the music, and partially because it almost always meant Maureen and Joanne weren't fighting, seeing as their cassette player was actually Joanne's.
Collins exhaled slowly, rubbing his eyes once more, and sat up a little straighter in his chair. He was content in this room, with his Angel, surrounded by their friends and the subtle imprints, marks of their presence that they'd left to make it feel more like home than a hospital. He sensed her moving beside him, and looked over at her sleeping form. Her eyes were blinking open, and crinkling into a small but luminous smile when she saw him.
'Hey baby,' she stifled a yawn and squeezed his hand. He smiled and lifted her fingers to his lips, kissing them gently, as if afraid she might break.
'Mmm,' her eyes shut once more as she stretched and sat up. She smoothed her hands over the lapels of his coat. 'Are you cold?'
'Uh uh,' he shook his head and slowly ran his hand through her short crop of hair. She gently swatted his hand away, self-conscious, as always, without her wig. He caught her hands.
'Don't do that,' he kissed her temple. 'I love you, no matter what you wear'
'…I know' she smiled and kissed the tip of his nose. He grabbed her face in his hands, his own eyes now crinkling into a smile – the smile that made her weak. 'C'mon'
She shifted over in the bed and pulled him toward her, wrapping her thin arms around him as he settled in next to her. And that's the way Mimi and Mark, the first to arrive back, found them - drifting back to sleep, their heads tilted slightly toward each other, breathing in unison, and her heart beating a steady tattoo against his chest.