A/N: I'm sorry if Angel and Collins seem very OOC here…I'm just trying something different. Don't get pissed. This fic is kind of like a practice round for the threeshot angst story I'm trying to do.

Thanks to Tracy for editing! She did a superb job!

Oh, and if anyone cares, I've created a forum dedicated to Jonathan Larson. Feel free to pop on over.

Casting a side long glance at Angel, Collins could not keep his worry hidden…even though he wanted to, for Angel's sake.

Both he and Angel had periods of bad health every now and then due to the illness they both shared. Collins just hoped to God that this was one of them and not a sign of something more serious.

"You okay, Angel?" Collins asked him. As he talked, he placed a hand on his lover's knee, giving it a gentle squeeze.

Slumped into the cushions of the couch, Angel opened his eyes. He turned his head to look at Collins, smiling wanly at him.

"Yeah, I'm fine, sweetie. I'm just a little tired…"

Collins raised an eyebrow. Angel appeared more than 'a little tired'. He was flushed…due to a high fever, no doubt. The sheen of perspiration was beginning to show itself on his forehead.

"Do you want me to help you to the bedroom? It'll be more comfortable for you if you can lie down and get some rest…" Collins reached up to run his fingers through Angel's dark, curly hair. Right now, Angel was barely holding himself up into a sitting position.

"Sure. I guess that would be best…" Angel nodded in agreement. Almost immediately, Collins jumped up from the sofa and to his feet, holding out his hand to him. This made Angel laugh.

"You're such a gentleman…"

"I'm not taking any chances." Collins winked at him.

Angel felt conflicted. Collins was being so sweet…but he wanted to get up and go to the bedroom himself. He didn't enjoy feeling helpless.

Without taking his hand for support, Angel quickly forced himself off the couch and to his feet. That decision was a mistake…he was immediately overcome with dizziness. Not to mention, he felt weak in the knees. As he fell back onto the sofa, a variety of emotions flooded his brain…embarrassment, fear, and rage. This little 'cold' was worse than he had thought.

"Come on, Angel. I'll help you…" Collins felt awful for his lover.

"Just forget it. I'm fine right here." Angel shook his head. He was disgusted with himself right about now.

Not listening, Collins bent down and gently gripped onto Angel's upper arm. He began pulling him to his feet. Angel struggled mildly…he didn't have much energy.

"Hey….!" Angel protested. He was finally pulled into a standing position. "Collins…I told you that I'm fine here! Just let go…"

"Angel, it's okay. Calm down…" Collins had a slight edge to his tone. He tightened his grip on Angel's arm. He began to pull him in the direction of the bedroom. Angel, however, was determined to stay right where he was.

Angel was furious. He wasn't about to be carried or dragged everywhere he went. With surprising strength, he broke free of Collins' grasp and shoved his shoulder roughly. Surprised, Collins stumbled slightly but managed to keep his balance.

"I can walk, Thomas!" Angel yelled at him, his eyes bright with anger. Misplaced rage, of course. He wasn't really mad at Collins…he was mad at the disease that had him in its stronghold. Gathering all the strength he had left, Angel lashed out…slapping him hard across the face.

The professor's eyes stung with tears of pain. His mind momentarily went black with fury…

He couldn't stop himself…nor could he even think logically. Almost as if it was a reflex, his arm swung out. He landed a loud, heavy backhand to Angel's face. Angel let out a little squeak of pain…the force of the blow knocked him right off his feet and onto the couch for the second time that evening. Had the sofa not have been there, he would've ended up on the floor.

An inner voice was screaming at Collins.

You don't know what you're doing!

Finally, his mind seemed to clear. The anger and hurt he had felt were quickly being replaced with shame and horror. He suddenly felt sick to his stomach. This all seemed like a nightmare…it was surreal. He blinked, stunned by what just happened. His heart was racing.

I can't fucking believe this. I love Angel. What the fuck did I just do??

He had never imagined himself harming Angel…ever. He hated himself.

This had been their first real fight. Both of them were dying…because of this, there had been an unspoken agreement among them. They were to make this relationship as pleasant as possible…each bending over backwards in order to please the other.

Sitting rigidly on the sofa, Angel glared up at him with moist eyes. His expression seemed to be a mix of pain, anger, shock, and fear. In fact, these emotions flashed across his face rapidly…sometimes intermingling. He seemed to hold his breath, waiting for his next move.

He thinks I'm going to hurt him again…

The professor's heart felt like breaking. The fact that Angel actually expected to get hit again made him feel like a monster. This seemed to snap him back to reality.

"I'm sorry…" Collins choked out, swallowing thickly. His voice sounded strange and tiny in the total silence of the room.

Face now slightly pale, Angel was holding a hand to his sore cheek. He trembled…Collins couldn't tell if it was a result of rage or fear. It was probably both.

"You stay the fuck away from me!" Angel hissed. Despite his voice being shaky, it had a deadly tone to it. "I'm warning you!"

Collins wanted to listen to Angel this time…to leave him alone and let him cool off. But he couldn't…he wanted to hug, comfort and soothe him.

"Angel…" He pleaded, easing down onto the couch beside his lover. Never taking his eyes off of him, Angel shrank away from Collins.

Taking the hint that Angel did not want to be touched, Collins backed off. He sat calmly, resting his hands on his lap. He wanted to leave them in full view…he wanted to prove to Angel that he was not going to hurt him. He had a lump in his throat the entire time…he hated seeing Angel like this. He hated the fact that Angel was afraid of him.

I'm supposed to love and protect him. What the fuck was I thinking?

The two of them just stared at each other awkwardly for a few seconds.

"It's just…I feel like a fucking invalid, you know??" Shoulders hunched, Angel began 'laughing'…it was almost bordering on hysterical. It wasn't real laughter…no joy or mirth was behind this reaction. Angel's face was twisted into a bitter grimace and sobbing began to mingle with the laughter. It was a release for all the pent up emotion that he had been keeping inside him for the past week. It was the ultimate expression of helpless frustration.

Collins didn't need to say anything. Tears now streaming freely down his face as well, he began to laugh too. Nothing about this situation was particularly funny, but laughter seemed to be a great icebreaker for the tension between them. He leaned forward, tearing out a handful of tissues from the Kleenex box that sat on the table.

"Stop it, Ang. You're making my snot run…" Collins joked, handing Angel a tissue with shaky fingers.

Angel made a face, smirking a little. "Thomas, that's disgusting."

The Latino took the tissue from Collins. He didn't use it, though. He just wadded it up into his fist.

"I'm sorry, Angelcake…" Collins whispered, feeling a fresh wave of tears coming on.

"I'm sorrier." Angel was still smirking. For some reason, he couldn't get enough of the joking mood now. It was a relief from all of this bullshit.

"I'm sorriest." Catching on, Collins could feel his spirit begin to lighten as well.

"I deserved it, anyway…I was being such a bitch. You were only trying to help and I hit you…" Angel shook his head, sighing heavily. "What is wrong with me?"

"Angel, there is nothing wrong with you." Leaning in towards Angel, Collins pressed a soft, tender kiss to his sore cheek.

This disease might cause a strain on our relationship but we can't let it beat us. I need to be there for Angel…he needs me…

"I don't think you're going to bruise…but you may need some ice…"

"Actually, I just want to rest." Angel cut him off. "I'm exhausted."

Collins nodded.

Angel eased his way down onto his side, resting his head on Collins' lap. He shifted a few times in order to get comfortable.

"Do you want me to get you a pillow, baby?" Collins teased…he didn't exactly have the most cushion-like thighs. He reached down to stroke Angel's hair.

"Mmmm. No, thank you. This is fine…" Angel shut his eyes, attempting to relax. "I'm fine…"

Within a few minutes, he was asleep.

Still stroking his hair, Collins allowed his mind to wander. He thought about the day's events over and over again…about the reason behind them. Slowly, he came to this conclusion:

Dying from AIDS was devastating to anyone. Even an Angel.

THE END

A/N: It felt kind of gross writing this. Now, I've got to write some fluff in order to make up for it. :D