Collins admitted it to himself-he was afraid. He didn't know of what exactly, but he was scared. Maybe of losing Angel, maybe being alone, maybe the thought that he might never love again. He couldn't place his finger on it, but the fear was definitely there.
He pushed the door open and saw his baby lying there. When she saw him, Angel smiled so brightly that it lit up the room. She held her arms out to him, and Collins received the invitation. He brought Angel into a warm, strong hug and was soon holding her, rocking her back and forth.
As they rocked, Angel felt a single tear fall onto her head. She twisted around to look at Collins, tears streaming from his deep brown eyes. "Baby, not you, too. Everyone's crying over me, and I can't stand it. Please, be the one who won't cry about Angel, at least in front of her. I can't handle knowing that I'm causing you and our family this much grief." She kissed him softly on the mouth. The kiss reassured Collins and gave him the willpower to stop crying.
"Okay. Thank you, Ang."
"I love you," Angel reminded him.
Collins kissed the top of her head ever so lightly, just hitting the short black wig, but Angel felt it nonetheless. She smiled, but it never reached her beautiful brown eyes. Collins sighed deeply, his head falling until it reached the top of Angel's head. "What, baby? What's wrong?" Angel asked.
"It's just tha-…" Collins stopped, searching for the right words to use for describing the emotion he was feeling. "I met you less than ten months ago. Remember, in the alley?" Collins looked at her quizzically. "Of course, continue," Angel prompted.
"When I first saw you, I knew we were meant for each other. I believe in love at first sight and I knew that I was in love the moment I laid eyes on you. You brought so much joy and happiness to my life, Angel. Thank you so much. You saved my life that night. How can I ever repay you? Anything, tell me to anything your amazing little heart desires." Collins was begging now.
"Only two promises, baby. One: take care of my little Mimi. Her personality demands a little ego boost every now and then. She also needs to be encouraged every day to stop using. Remind Roger about that, too." She sucked in a long, staggered breath and closed her eyes.
"Ang? The second thing?" Collins asked, gently stroking her hair.
"Oh. Please, whatever you do…" She stopped, glancing at her lover's face. It said to go on. "Love me until the day you die." Such a simple request. Collins had only truly been in love once, with Angel. That promise would be easy to keep.
Protecting Mimi, however, that was the hard one. She was so stubborn, so hard to get her to listen to you. Only two people had really clicked with Mimi. Angel and Roger. Collins mulled this over. He would find a way to watch over Mimi. For Angel.
Angel drew in a sharp breath and winced. "I promise," was all Collins said. Angel's breaths became quicker and shorter.
"Look at me, Thomas." The only time she had ever called him Thomas.
They both knew she could go any minute now. Collins looked her in the eyes. The beautiful brown eyes. One last time. They both leaned in and kissed each other on the lips, very gently, but with enough force to make it matter. One last time.
Angel's breath became even quicker.
"I love you, Angel." Collins said, his voice cracking a bit on the last word.
One last time.
She drew in a sharp breath, just enough to say, "I love you, Tom Collins."
One last time.
And she went limp. Collins let out a cry, the tears he had been holding back falling from his eyes in waterfalls. The sobs racked his body, he was shaking. He had lost the only person he had ever loved. His arms remained wrapped around Angel's weak, thin body. She was gone. She really was gone. But she wasn't in pain anymore. That was the only thing that kept Collins going. That, and the fact that his Angel would be in his arms again soon.