Disclaimer: I don't own, I RENT (Don't own Secret Garden either)

Summary: Two years after she died, Collins still hasn't been able to get over the death of his love. One night, her spirit appears in the apartment. Oneshot, partial songfic to How Could I Ever Know from Secret Garden. AngelCollins

A/N: I was sitting at rehearsal, watching two very talented people sing this song, and a little neon sign went on in my head. So yeah. Enjoy!

Collins poked absently at his pasta, pushing it around in circles on his plate. He looked up when he felt a hand laid gently on his shoulder. Mimi's concerned brown eyes stared into his. "Collins?"

"Wha--?" He looked around, face heating up as he met all of his friends' eyes, one after the other. "Oh, sorry. I was… thinking."

"You're always 'thinking', man." Roger commented, leaning out to look at his friend around Mimi.

Mimi smacked his shoulder. "Rog, shut it. Are you okay, Collins?" The look in her eyes was knowing; she knew exactly why he kept drifting off into his own little world. It was only a week into November, 1992, after all. When he didn't respond, she gave him a gentle push, ushering him out of the booth. "He doesn't look too good. I'll walk him home and be back in a few minutes."

Mark peeked out from behind his ever-rolling camera, eyes meeting Mimi's for a split second. Everyone around the table nodded, and Mimi grabbed Collins' arm and gently guided him out through the maze of tables.

Once they were out on the street, Collins turned to Mimi. "Sorry, Meems. I can walk home on my own, you go on back inside."

Mimi looked up at her taller friend. "Are you sure? I don't want you to wander into the street, or something. I know your mind is elsewhere…" On her. She added silently.

He put a hand on her shoulder and forced a smile. "I'm fine. I'll see you guys tomorrow, okay?"

"Well, okay…" Mimi stood on tiptoe and planted a small kiss on his cheek, then slowly headed back into the Life.

Collins shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his coat, forcing himself to walk down the sidewalk. Every step was an effort, but eventually he reached the apartment. He shut the door behind him, shuffling into the living room, his coat swishing softly.

He stopped dead, eyes caught by the picture sitting on the coffee table. Even in the dark, he knew every detail of the black-and-white headshot. He knew the exact curve of the jaw, could see the sparkle in the eyes that was so obvious it could even be caught in a photo. Tears welled up in his eyes as he gazed at the picture frame, contents shadowed and yet clear as day in his mind.

The sound of cloth rubbing against cloth snapped him out of his trance. Who else could be in the apartment? He certainly hadn't moved, and he hadn't heard the door open… Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a red shape come to the kitchen doorway.

Collins turned, only one word escaping from his mouth. "Angel?"

Her Santa dress was just as vibrant as it had always been, perfectly offset by the red flower tucked behind her ear as she gazed silently at him. He felt the hurt and grief welling up inside him until, unable to take it, he turned away. He refused to believe that she was any more than a hallucination, caused by his own wistful thinking.

Angel took a deep breath, feeling tears begin to run down her own cheeks. Fighting to clear the lump in her throat, her voice quavering, she sang, "How could I know I would have to leave you? How could I know I would hurt you so?"

Collins shoulders shook even harder, his hands coming up to rub at his eyes vainly as she continued, "You were the one I was born to love. Oh, how could I ever know?" She swallowed, repeating softly, "How could I ever know?"

Angel paused, watching the pain that had haunted him for over two years wash over him again. Much as she wished it were otherwise, he clearly could not let go of his grief. Instead of telling him to try to move on, like she had before she'd died, she sang again, "How can I say to go on without me? How, when I know you still need me so? How can I say not to dream about me? How could I ever know?" Her shoulders shook as the flow of tears redoubled. "How could I ever know?"

Still trying to convince himself that none of this was happening, Collins stumbled to the couch and half-fell onto it. Angel moved slowly forwards, eyes fixed on her lover's quivering back. "Forgive me! Can you forgive me, and hold me in your heart?" Collins slowly turned, looking at her for the first time since she'd appeared. Angel smiled shakily, locking eyes with him. "And find some new way to love me, now that we're apart?" He couldn't grieve like this for the rest of his life, or what kind of life would it be? He had to find some other way, or… she didn't want to go there.

As she continued, he slowly stood and turned to face her. "How could I know I would never hold you? Never again in this world, but oh," She brought her hands to her chest, eyes pleading. "Sure as you breathe, I am there inside you. How could I ever know?"

She took one more step and stopped, facing Collins over the back of the couch. "How could I ever know?"

Collins bowed his head for a moment, his shoulders shaking even harder. Before Angel could say anything more, he looked up at her and choked, "How can I hope to go on without you? How can I know where you'd have me go?" His eyes traveled over her, drinking in her beauty for the first time in years. "How can I bear not to dream about you? Oh, how can I let you go?"

Angel let out one tiny sob. "How could I ever know?"

They stood, neither moving, just gazing at each other. Finally, Angel spoke, repeating her earlier question, "Can you forgive me?"

Collins forced a watery smile. "There's nothing to forgive, my Angel."

She gazed into his eyes a moment more, then glanced away. "I have to go."

He reached out and grabbed her hand, half expecting for his fingers to go right through her skin. But no, whatever illusion this was, it extended to touch. "How can I go on without you?" He began crying anew. "I die without you, Angel."

She closed her eyes for a moment, taking as deep a breath as her petite form would allow. "Honey, you've got to go on living, for our friends' sake and for yours. They aren't ready to lose you, too." Her small smile didn't fool either of them. "Go back to the Life and be happy. Mimi-chica's worried about you."

Collins made an odd sound somewhere between a sob and a chuckle. "I know."

She leaned forwards and planted a small kiss on his lips, too short for both of them. "I'll wait forever for you, Thomas B. Collins. Don't be in a rush to come, okay?"

He nodded silently, his feet refusing to move as she gently tugged her hand from his grasp and left the room. By the time he finally managed to move again and ran to the door, there was no sign she'd ever been there. He bowed his head for a moment, took a deep breath, and headed back out the door.