A/N: Ahhhhh. It feels SO good to write real AngelCollins fluff again. This gets pretty racy at the end, so I'm rating this an M. Tell me if you think it should be rated down. In the meantime, enjoy the total and unadulterated wonderfulness that is Collins and Angel!

"Thanks…" Angel said vaguely as a young woman dropped a few quarters onto her pickle tub. The woman gave her a sympathetic look and walked away. She probably thought that Angel was spaced out on drugs or something. However, Angel didn't really care about the young woman's opinion at the moment. In fact, she hardly even registered that the woman had actually given her a dollar fifty, more than most people cared to spare. That was surprising, since Angel was so distracted that her drumming had gone off beat twelve minutes ago and she hadn't noticed.

It took another ten minutes for Angel to finally decide that she wasn't going to get anywhere with her drumming today. She slung her bag over her shoulder, gathered her drumsticks together in her hand, and stood up with her pickle tub under one arm. She started walking down the street towards nowhere in particular, watching her feet and only just avoiding bumping into people.

Her mind was far away in the earlier morning, when she and Collins had been talking while he was getting ready for NYU. She hardly remembered what the conversation had been about; after all, they were never at a lack for things to talk about, how could she keep track of all the subjects they covered? But what was sticking out in her memory was a small incident that would never have given her trouble before…yet it did now.

Collins had been going on about something or other and he had used a word that she didn't understand. She'd asked for clarification and he'd easily told her…but Angel noticed that he had paused, then rolled his eyes as he'd given her the definition of the word. It threw her off balance, and later on he had been holding back laughter as he kissed her goodbye. Was he laughing at her? An unpleasant thought entered her brain: did Collins think she was dumb? It felt stupid to ask, but even worse to consider the possibility that the answer might be yes. After all, he was a college professor who taught a subject that she could barely comprehend the purpose of in the world; while she had three-quarters of a high school education and test scores that weren't pathetic, but weren't exactly exemplary either. Angel had never cared much about how smart she was; she had made it this far, hadn't she?

On the other hand, Angel couldn't help thinking about all the other times she needed to ask Collins to explain or define something for her. It had seemed natural; ask your lover to let you know what stuff meant. Now she wondered if he looked down on her for it. As Angel walked down the street, she passed a sign in a store window. She read it out loud, but under her breath. Then she read the next sign, and the next, and the next…

Help wanted inside, must have experience…

Last lottery win: $17, 549…

Your horoscope of the day is…

Angel felt like even more of an idiot doing this, but it helped a little in some ways. At least she could read; that was something.

By the time Angel got home, she had read over thirty signs. Part of her could have cried over how pathetic she was, but the other part felt self-righteous. She could read and write, couldn't she? She knew things; she wasn't a stereotype, a dull Latino who could hardly comprehend the meaning of the word "grammar." Racial assumptions like that had always pissed her off. Now they seemed like the Devil. Even the thought made her blood boil.

Unlocking the door, Angel threw down her stuff, stalked into the bedroom, and flopped forward onto the bed. Face buried in the ratty comforter, she kicked off her shoes and tried to calm down. It wasn't like her to get so hung up on little things. Still, her anger at being taken for an idiot built and bubbled inside her, churning like lava. How dare he think she was stupid? How dare anyone think she was a lesser person just because she didn't have a law degree or something?

Poor Collins wouldn't have been prepared for her even if he had a radio tower sending him code-red warnings. The minute he walked in the door, he saw her. Sitting stiffly on the couch, wearing jeans and a sweater, arms crossed and glaring like a school principal at a student that had just attempted to set fire to the playground.

"Um…hello?" he said tentatively, walking over to the couch, dropping his backpack and half-removing his coat. Angel didn't move; she just kept glaring. Collins glanced from side to side, as though checking for some disaster that might explain why Angel was practically sticking daggers into his chest with her eyes.

"Ang?...You okay? Am I…everything okay?" he asked warily. Angel's eyes narrowed a little more, and then without warning she rose from the couch. With her arms still crossed, Angel stepped forward until she was standing as close to Collins as she could without touching him. Since she was wearing only socks and he still had his boots on, the height difference was even more than usual. But Angel was so intimidating that she might as well have been the one looking down on him instead of the other way around.

"Angel? Did I do something wrong?" Collins asked once more, raising his eyebrows. Angel's nostrils flared.

"Well, I don't know," she snapped, her voice stinging like ice. "You're obviously the genius around here, so you tell me."

"Huh?" he said, brow knitting in confusion. Dropping his coat to the floor, Collins tried to back away a little, but Angel crisply closed the space between them.

"Um, Angel? You're sort of freaking me out here, so can you just explain what I did and get it over with?" he pleaded. Angel uncrossed her arms and planted one hand on her hip, giving him the worst look yet.

"Sure, I could explain. But why don't you do that? After all, I might need help with some of the bigger words, and everyone knows how annoying it is to listen to someone who's so below your intelligence status. And yes, I do know what intelligence means, in case you were worrying that you'd have to help me out." Angel practically spat the last three words. Collins's eyes were so wide it might have been funny under other circumstances. He looked like he wasn't sure whether this was some sort of dream brought on by a blast of taxi fumes or a sign that either one of them had finally snapped.

"Are you even going to say anything? Or does the professor have to think for a while?" Angel said sarcastically. Collins frowned and shook his head.

"Angel, I literally have no idea what you're talking about. 'Below my intelligence status'—what the hell does that even mean? Is this some sort of joke that you're—"

"Joke? A joke?" Angel hissed. Collins instantly realized that he'd said the wrong thing. Holding up both hands as though he were surrendering a weapon, he took a deep breath and opened his mouth to try to soothe her. But Angel cut him off.

"You have got to be kidding me. That is the most conceited thing I've ever heard, and you act like you can just brush it off?" she said in angry disbelief. Collins tried to say he had brushed nothing off and had no intention of doing any brushing at all…but once again Angel didn't let him make a sound.

"You know, I get that you're smart, okay? You teach people older than me for a living, so I do get it. But the fact that you're smart doesn't give some sort of license to treat me differently because of it! I'm not a genius, but I'm not stupid! How do you not understand that!" Angel exploded.

"Angel, calm down—" Collins managed to say. But he wasn't able to get anything else out. Angel, presumably because she was going to yell at him some more, took a step forward, forcing him to take a step back. Sadly, Collins did not remember that when he taken off his coat earlier, it had fallen to the floor behind him. Now as he stepped back, his foot snagged on a sleeve and got tangled in the leather. Before Angel could say another word, he went sprawling backwards, cracking his skull on a threadbare patch on the ratty carpetand landing rather ungracefully on his butt. The ratty carpet cushioned most of his fall, bu

"Shit! Jesus, Angel, what the fuck—goddammit!" Collins grunted through a grimace as he lay on the floor, clutching his head. Angel stared down at him, looking unsure whether to laugh or shout at him again. Collins groaned and sat up, bringing his knees to his chest and pressing his forehead against them as he massaged the back of his skull. Angel didn't move.

"Fuck…fuck…" Collins muttered, squeezing his eyes shut. Angel took a step forward, hesitated, then took a step back. Her eyes weren't angry anymore; they were almost scared.

And that was when Angel started laughing.

It started as a giggle, then quickly escalated into a roar of hilarity. She collapsed on the couch, curling up and clutching her stomach as tears streamed down her face. Collins looked up in shock as he watched her rock back and forth with hysterics.

"Okay, now I'm really frightened," he said, edging away from the couch. Angel squeaked and thrashed, her face scrunched up with laughter. Collins kept staring at her, his head shaking slightly from side to side. Angel didn't notice; she couldn't have, considering how hard she was laughing. Unfortunately, the laughter made her shake a little too much. One particularly violent wave of mirth tipped her off the couch and onto the floor, which she hit with a thump.

"Ow…ow, that hurt…"Angel managed to sputter through the laughter that just wouldn't stop. Collins's mouth dropped open, and for a moment he just watched Angel convulse on the floor. And then it happened; the corner of his mouth twitched and spread into a smile. Before he could stop himself, he was laughing too, just as hard as Angel was. The two of them lay on the floor, immobilized by hysterics. It was a somewhat worrying scene.

Angel wound down first, but Collins followed almost immediately after. They lay there panting and having little leftover fits of giggles. Only now did Angel's side begin to hurt from the fall off the couch.

"Oh, my hip…I think I broke it…" Angel moaned.

"I still can't feel the back of my head, thanks to you," Collins replied, wincing.

"Oh…sorry," Angel said quietly. The mention of what had happened before the hilarity was sobering; it brought them both back to the present. Collins waited a moment, then spoke tentatively.

"Angel, I honestly don't understand what I did to make you so angry. Why were you talking about being stupid? If I said you were, I was joking, you know that," he told her gently. Angel sighed and stared up at the ceiling.

"It's not what you said, it's just…this morning when we were talking, I asked you what something meant. A word you used…I didn't know it, so I asked."

"You mean…mendacity?" Collins asked, squinted as he remembered. Angel shrugged and nodded.

"Yeah. I asked and you told me…but you rolled your eyes, like you thought I was being annoying by not knowing what it meant," Angel said. She bit her bottom lip as she felt anger rise again.

"Wait. You mean that's what you're so upset about?" Collins asked in disbelief, twisting around on his back to look at her. Angel sighed and sat up. Collins followed suit.

"Yes," she whispered. Collins ground his teeth together.

"So all that ranting about me treating you differently and being sarcastic about explaining stuff to you…that's what it came from?" Collins asked. Angel slowly began to feel like a total idiot.


"Because if you can give a single other time that I've treated you badly because I thought you weren't smart, I'd like to hear it!"

Angel opened her mouth, closed it, and shook her head. A blush crept into her cheeks and she turned away from him. There really wasn't anything else; nothing at all in her memory of Collins doing any of the things she accused him of. Angel was not an easily embarrassed person, but right now she wanted to crawl off and die in a nice dark hole.

"Oh god…oh my god…Angel, you are impressive," Collins said, shaking his head and chuckling. Angel hunched her shoulders and rubbed her sore hip. Great. Now he really was laughing at her; only this time she deserved it.

"Look, I'm just going to go and…and do…and I'm just going to leave," Angel said, her mind telling that she just needed to leave somehow, just leave and get away from herself. But before she could get up, she felt Collins's arms go around her and pull her back down to the floor and into his lap. Before she could tell him to let her go, he pushed the words back into her mouth by kissing her. Angel stiffened with surprise, but reflexively kissed him back. He cradled her in his lap and let his hand settle on the back of her neck. Angel shivered and finally pulled away, feeling decidedly confused.

"Um…what was that?" she asked hoarsely. Collins smiled and let his forehead fall against hers.

"Angel, I love you for who you are, including your 'intelligence status'—which is actually higher than a lot of people's. Do you honestly believe I could think you were stupid? I mean, hell, I act like an idiot half the time. But I would never do anything to make you feel stupid. Do you really wanna know why I was rolling my eyes?"

"Why?" Angel said, hoping to God it hadn't been her.

"Because Maureen was at the window."

Of everything he could have said, Angel had not expected that.


"Yep. She climbed up the fire escape and was staring in the fucking window like some sort of stalker," Collins told her, obviously trying not to laugh again. If Angel had felt stupid before, she really did now.

"Well, what the hell was she doing at the window?"

"Apparently, she felt unloved by Joanne. Apparently, I am her personal therapist and I have some legal obligation to listen to her bitch and moan until the end of time. And apparently, she felt the need to conceal herself from you, because when I saw her in the window she made it quite obvious I was not to acknowledge her in any way. The girl was spazzing; I figured that it might be better to play along. I did live with her, after all," he said, shrugging. Angel groaned and let her head clonk onto his shoulder. He laughed and held her a little closer.

"So it was her? I spent my entire day being mad and yelling at you because of Maureen Johnson?" Angel asked. Collins nodded. She sighed and closed her eyes.

"I'm sure that girl doesn't mean to screw things up, but she's extremely talented at it," Angel said.

"Amen," Collins agreed, laughing. He squeezed Angel tightly and wrapped an arm around her stomach. She snuggled into him and tried to stop feeling so idiotic for making a mistake. His heart beat calmed her, and she contented herself with the promise that she would get Maureen back for today as soon as possible.

"Hey…I think you owe me an apology," Collins said in a low voice, the hand on her stomach slipping under her shirt and sliding over her abdomen. Angel jumped and then grinned. Turning her head around on his shoulder, she buried her face in his neck.

"Your head still hurting?" she mumbled, biting lightly at the sensitive skin below his ear. Collins shivered and swallowed.

"Um…yeah. Yeah, it is," he said, managing to ignore her long enough to form sentences. Angel sucked gently on his earlobe, feeling a rush of exhilaration as they moved back into the court she knew; the court that was quite possibly her favorite.

"Well, then…I think I owe you a little more than an apology," she whispered, letting go of his ear and kissing up and down the side of his neck. Collins let her go on for another moment or two, then growled and flipped her onto the ground, pinning her down with his body. Angel squeaked with delight and snaked her hands up under his shirt, pinching his belly button and enjoying the feel of the muscle underneath the skin. Collins wasted no time in kissing her as fiercely as he could, his tongue tangling with hers as she proceeded to open his shirt from the inside out.

"I'm…sorry…by the way," Angel gasped, her back arching as Collins ripped her sweater away and attacked her collar bone. His hands slid down to the hem of her jeans, lining them and pushing them lower down her hips.

"Accepted," he mumbled, moving downwards. Angel shuddered and then pushed him backwards onto the floor, clambering up and straddling him on the worn, dark blue carpet.

"But I have to show you just how sorry I am, don't I?" she asked, her voice breathy. She leaned down until their chests were nearly touching and kissed him, tongues pushing against each other in the intimacy of their mouths. As they kissed, her hands pressed flat against his nipples and slowly slid down to the hem of his jeans…and then inside his jeans, inside his boxers…it was Collins's turn to twist and writhe underneath his lover. Angel grinned and just kissed him harder.

For a very long time, Angel proceeded to show Collins just how sorry she was.

Ah hee hee hee hee...