Disclaimer: Do I LOOK like Jonathon Larson? No. No, I don't, and therefore don't own RENT.


Drumsticks

"Honey, have you seen my drum sticks?"

Thomas Collins looked up from grading his philosophy student's papers and furrowed his brows at his boyfriend, Angel, shaking is head. "Nup; haven't seen 'em, Angelcake. Sorry."

Angel let out a little, slightly guttural sound to make his displeasure known and placed his hands on his hips, staring around at their tiny appartment. Living in the East Village of New York City didn't make for the best living conditions and as it turned out, Collins was the only one of them with a job (teaching Philosophy at NYU) and it didn't pay salary. Angel routinely went out with a pickle tub he had in his possession and drummed on street corners, typically bringing back about twenty dollars made of quarters and sometimes the rare dollar. These small piles, added up over the month, were just enough to scrape them by in paying the rent and bills. Collins' income went into everything else.

"Well, honey, I kind of need them," he sighed, folding his arms across his chest and trying to look cross. But the cute scrunching of his nose and the narrowed eyes obviously didn't have the desired effect as Collins grinned. Hadn't Angel learned by now that every time he pulled that pout it just made Collins want to kiss it off? Angel scowled. "Come on, Thomas! Help me look for them, please?"

Not wanting to try the temper of the sometimes hot-headed Latino, Collins stood; discarding the paper he held in one hand and drifted to join him in the archway that lead to the tiny living room. "Retrace your steps. What's the first thing you did after you came home yesterday?"

"Well…I came in yesterday and I put my tub there," he pointed to the doorway in which sat his ten-gallon plastic pickle tub in all its glory. "And I thought my sticks were with it but apparently not…so then I think I went to the kitchen and made myself a snack. Cereal. It was the last of it so I threw the box away…"

Collins walked over to the trash bin and pushed down the foot petal. There lay the empty Captain Crunch box, but no drum sticks. He picked the box up and flipped it over, shaking it. He only succeeded in dumping out a pile of crumbs onto the floor, which Angel then informed him he would be cleaning up once they were done finding his drum sticks.

"You know, Ang, the handles of a couple of wooden spoons would work just fine…" he mumbled, already heading in that direction. "You can drum with these today, and we'll work on finding your sticks later, m'kay?"

Angel bit his lip, playing with it in his teeth, crossing his arms and looking contemplative. Then he nodded. "Okay. That'll do. Thanks for helping, honey." He kissed his cheek and grabbed the spoons, tugging the actual spoon part off, which left him with only the handles. He giggled. "Thank God for crappy kitchen utensils, huh?"

"Yup," Collins agreed, sitting back down at the kitchen table.

Angel set the handles down and wandered into the bedroom to finish dressing. He let out a displeased sound and crowed, "Collins! Where's my wig?!"

"Did you check on the nightstand?"

"Yeah."

"How about under the bed?"

"Why would it be…?"

"Just check."

Collins saw Angel crouched under the bed through the door-less doorway and chuckled when he popped back out from under, clutching his wig in his left hand. "What in the…?"

Collins cleared his throat and mumbled, "Remember Friday after we went out with Roger and Mimi…?"

The transvestite thought for a minute before grinning and nodding, settling the wig on his head. "Ha – now I remember! Thanks again, honey." The now-feminized Angel strode back into the kitchen and bent down, pecking Collins' cheek and whispered, "And Thomas? You're still cleaning up those crumbs." Before sweeping out of the apartment in a wave of exaggerated hair-flipping and skirt-twirling.

Collins laughed and made his way to the closet, taking out their broom and pan and sweeping the cereal crumbs up before glancing at his ungraded papers, figuring they could wait for another day, then plopped onto the sofa, to an ominous crack from something.

Ever so slowly, he stood up and lifted the seat cushion to see Angel's drums sticks laying on top of the folded sofa bed. One was broken clean in half, and the other was fractured beyond repair. He swore under his breath, and fearing the wrath of God himself scrambled to hide the evidence. He threw them over the fire escape and right into a cardboard box someone in the ally was using as a home. The man blinked at them before picking them up and looking towards the sky, all the fear of God in his slightly manic eyes. Collins quickly ducked back inside, not wanting the obviously mentally disturbed man to see that his 'miracle' was none other than Thomas Collins trying to avoid the wrath of an angry drag queen.

'Okay, Tom, think…' he told himself, pacing around the room, wringing his hands like some panicking child. 'Angel won't be home for a few more hours, so you have enough time to hurry down to the music supply, buy her a pair of sticks, and be back here…maybe drop by the grocery store to buy her chocolate to soften the blow…Nah, she won't know the difference…will she?'

Not liking the idea of lying to his partner of almost a year, but feeling it was necessary to keep all parts of his body connected to it, he grabbed his brown overcoat and swept out of the apartment without so much as a backwards glance; that was a perk of not having pets or children.

He almost literally ran to the music supply store and removed the first pair of sticks he saw from a massive display. He turned them over and whistled lowly when he saw the price was thirty dollars. He could see why Angel had kept the pair she had for so long.

The cheapest he was able to find was still a whopping fifteen dollars and he ended up having just enough cash to pay for it. It was on his way back that he encountered his major obstacle.

Angel was walking the opposite way on the same side of the street accompanied by Mimi Marquez, her best friend. Both Latinas waved when they saw the African-American walking towards them and Angel called, "Lover! What're you doing here!?"

Collins' mind was cursing up a storm as he neared them and chuckled lightly, hiding his purchase behind his back. "Nothin', Angelcake! Just had to make a run to the store!"

"What's behind your back?" Mimi enquired, reaching behind him. He turned quickly so he was once again facing her.

"Nothin'!" he promised. "Just…carrots! Need them for dinner!"

"Oh…" The frizzy-haired Latina mumbled. "Well, we're going to the Life Café for some lunch. You and your carrots can come along."

"Nah…I think my carrots might melt. So I'll be seein' ya okay, bye!"

As he jogged away he saw Angel mouth, 'Melting carrots?' bemusedly to her friend before continuing down the street, lacing her arm with Mimi's.

Collins slammed the door to the apartment shut behind him as if hell was on his heels and slammed the drum sticks on the table triumphantly, yelling, "ha!" to no one in particular, except maybe the Gods. He then cut them out of their plastic encasement and tried to make them look beat up (banging them against every hard surface in the place until someone started banging back from above) then settled them on the coffee table. He then rushed back to the kitchen table and calmed himself with grading some papers.

Two hours later, Angel hopped in the door, swinging her pickle tub back and forth, the quarters making quite a racket as they banged against the walls of the bin. She placed it on the table, grinned manically at Collins, and perched in his lap, trailing a hand down his chest and purring, "Guess whaaaat?"

"What?" Collins inquired, wrapping his arms around her and cupping her thigh so she wouldn't slip out of his lap. Angel could be uncoordinated at times and had fallen this way more than once. He winced a bit, still afraid of punishment, but seeing Angel's pretty smile he couldn't help but smile back and enquire, "So what's got you grinnin', pretty lady?"

Angel reached into her pickle tub, pulling out a twenty dollar bill. Collins' eyes bugged and his mouth fell open. "Oh, it's real, baby! I couldn't believe it myself, but I was drumming on the corner by the loft, because it gets really good foot traffic; especially for Avenue B." Collins knew this. His best friends and ex-room mates Roger and Mark lived there in a converted industrial loft above Mimi. "Someone just dropped it there and went away! I didn't even see them, so I couldn't give it back! I must have really been in the zone today!"

Collins was honestly shocked. Angel had gotten bigger sums of money all at once but not just by playing. There were things that she wasn't exactly proud of – and not just killing a dog – that she'd had to do to get by before Collins had come along with his income. Someone had obviously been looking out for them.

"You should buy yourself something nice," Collins asserted. Angel's brows furrowed. "Really, Ang. I'm sure you've got another twenty in quarters in there."

Angel sighed and stared at the bill, before grinning. "I know! I'll buy myself a new pair of drum sticks! The others were getting old anyway and God only knows where they went!"

"Uh, I found them!" Collins replied timidly. "They're in the living room! What about a nice blouse?"

"I can make myself a blouse, sweetie," Angel giggled, walking into the living room. She sighed, staring at her sticks, then one by one held them out and cracked them on her knee. "Goodbye, sticks! I knew thee well but, alas, there is only room for one pair of drumsticks in this house!" Well two, technically. She still had the first pair of drumsticks she'd ever gotten from her mother when she was six to save her good kitchen utensils. But she never used them because as they were fifteen years old, they would just break too easily.

Collins let out a low squeaking noise and banged his head on the table, pulling on his hair.

"Something wrong, baby?" asked Angel, frowning and coming to kneel beside him. "You feel alright?"

"M'fine…" he groaned and turned his head to stare at her.

"I'm gonna go down to the music supply, okay?" Angel questioned sweetly. "Why don't you start on dinner? What're you gonna do with those melting carrots?"

"Oh, that's a surprise," Collins chuckled, patting her cheek, and then kissed the same cheek. "Go get those drum sticks, okay?"

Angel nodded and stood up; picking her red coat up from where she'd dropped it on the table upon entering the kitchen and swinging it around her shoulders. "I'll be back in half an hour, sweetie."

Collins nodded and watched her leave, then flew to the window, watched until she left, and ran back through the apartment. Putting his coat on, he slammed out of the apartment.

Next stop: The food emporium.


End Story

A/N: So that was something I wrote for a school assignment. I edited some things into it to make it more interesting and a little more mature. And could you believe that my stupid English teacher made me change all the he's in reference to Angel into she's? And then took half credit away because it was late? Tell me, is that even RIGHT?! And I also had to change "boyfriend" in to "girlfriend" and make Angel sit on the table instead of Collins' lap! I mean, understand the last part but seriously?! Homosexuality is out there, people! It exists! Not all the stories you encounter in life are gonna be het! And he also didn't like the poor and living in a bad part of town part but I refused to change that! Seriously, we were arguing about this thing for half an hour and I seriously almost said 'forget it' but I wouldn't do that. Also, any and all mention of transvestitism and AIDS was taken out…I was too lazy to put the part about Collins reminding Angel to take her AZT out with her back in…

But yeah…This story made me go through a lot of trouble so I figured I should share!

-Lynn