Title: Just Breathe
Author: Sarah
Feedback: Love it, please leave it. . .positive or negative
Pairing: Angel/Collins Yeah, I'm back
Word Count: 1,031
Rating: PG-13
Genre: A little AU
Summary: Sickly Angel
Notes: I wrote this as an explanation/backstory for an RP of which I'm a part. 'Cause what fun would it be if Angel were dead? There'd be very little for me to do, so. . .
Special Thanks: sflynn just for being herself
Spoilers: Angel kinda dies
Warnings: none
Disclaimer: I don't own these sweet babies, they own me.

He'd grown accustomed to the sounds of the place. It was never silent, no matter the time of night. Beeping and whirring and loud talking in the hallway at all hours no longer fazed him, he slept right through them at her side. But now he was awakened by a sound he would never get used to. The sound of her struggles for breath.
"I can't . . . can't remember . . ." she gasped, painfully, her eyes huge, terrified.
"Lie on your back, baby," he reminded her, turning her over from the position she favored, snuggled into his chest. Holding her up so her lungs could drain and she could breathe, he took deep breaths to remind her. "Relax now. Just breathe," he commanded softly, breathing with her, for her it seemed, taking deep breaths until she remembered how to do it on her own, and fell asleep again.
Tonight, she'd already awakened four times and he was certain every time that this time she wouldn't be able to remember, that she'd be dead in his arms the next time. The thought kept him awake, watchful. The fifth time she awoke, her fever raging, her eyes wide and glassy, gasping like a fish despite the oxygen, he just knew.
"Honey, I . . ." she whispered between gasps for breath.
"Breathe, baby," he replied, stroking her hair, trying to keep the tears at bay, and again he showed her, breathing with her, but this time she didn't follow.
". . . love you," she finished breathily, so quietly he wouldn't have heard if he weren't hanging on every breath. The sound he so loved and hated stopped then, her ragged breathing stilled at last and he cried. Gently lifting her into his arms, he sobbed, completely uncaring what he looked or sounded like.
A full minute and a half he sat like that, rocking her body, crying over her, before he felt her shift. It was barely perceptible, he thought at first he must've imagined it, but then he felt her ribs expand, ever so slightly, and suddenly she gasped again. Her breathing labored, she worked hard to find a good rhythm, and he tried to help, setting a slow, deep pace for her.
"C'mon baby," he whispered into her hair, covering her with kisses. "You can do this. Just breathe."
After what seemed an eternity, the impossible happened. Her breathing returned to something like normal and she remembered how again. Unable to help himself, he lifted her chin, turning her face toward him and kissed her gently, everywhere but her lips, doing his best not to interrupt her shallow breathing.
It seemed only minutes until the sun rose and morning rounds began, though it was certainly hours. He held her in his lap, keeping her chest elevated, her lungs clear all night, not sleeping, only watching her. She was awakened by the sun on her face as she had been every morning since he'd known her. Her eyes opened, slowly. There was no panic in them this time, and though her breathing was still far from perfect, she was remembering on her own now, and he imagined it sounded better, less ragged.
" 'Mornin' baby," he murmured, smiling at her.
" 'Mornin," she replied, softly, breathily.
"How you feeling?"
"Like shit. Never better," she whispered, smiling, reaching up for a kiss. Her lips felt cool to him and he kissed her forehead to be sure.
"Think your fever's broken," he said, smiling, unable to believe.
"Think so," she agreed softly.
"Morning, Miss Angel," Dr. Potter called from the doorway, his colleagues all around him. "How're you feeling this morning?
"Tired," she murmured, smiling weakly, the closest she could come to flirting with the handsome young doctor. "But better, I think."
He checked over the monitors by her bedside carefully, then flipped a few pages in her chart. "Looks like your blood ox is up," he told her, sounding a little surprised.
"Guess that's good?" she whispered, smiling. She knew exactly what that meant, she'd been sick enough lately to have learned plenty about blood oxygen, decreased lung capacity, and a million other things which went along with pneumonia. She also happened to know firsthand that pneumonia was often what did in a lot of people with HIV.
"Can I listen?" he asked, carefully warming his stethoscope.
Angel nodded, still a bit too weak to support herself. Collins held her carefully away from his body so that the doctor could listen to her lungs, both front and back.
"Left one still sounds a little congested," he said listening closely. "But better. And the right sounds almost clear. What did you do?" he asked Collins.
"Just held her up all night," he replied. "She . . ." he wasn't sure how much to disclose, he didn't know what Angel remembered or how it would affect her if she didn't already know. "She was having some trouble breathing, so I thought it might help."
"I guess it did," the young doctor said, smiling. "Nicely done."
"So . . . ?" Collins asked, his brows knit.
"I think you're gonna pull out of this one, Miss Angel," Dr. Potter said, grinning sideways at her.
Angel smiled weakly, lacking the strength to do what she really wanted to do, which was to pull Collins into her arms and kiss him with all her might.
Collins' heart stopped momentarily at the news. "She's . . .gonna be ok?" He had all but resigned himself to the idea that his and Angel's time together was just about up.
"I would say her chances are good, yeah," the doctor replied. "Just gotta keep her lungs clear and her t-cells up. So far they haven't gone below 350, so we're in fairly good shape. And you," he said, pointing at Angel. "You need to stay positive."
She grinned again. "M'always . . . positive," she told him, breathily, happily. "Col?" she whispered.
"What baby?'
"Needa kiss, please."
Smiling happily, Collins reached down and placed a kiss squarely on Angel's lips, trying to remember a time when he'd been so happy. "Love you," he whispered.
"Love you too."