A/N: Uh…hi? This is a first for me! I've tried to post high school fics before, but don't post them because…uhm…I get scared that people will not like my writing and I'll continue, paying no heed to the whole thing, and then someone's just gonna finally come out of the woodwork and say, "You suck! Stop writing" And then I'll cry and…yeah…

Now, the following information is important if you expect to understand certain aspects of the story: when Angel is in drag I will refer to her as "she" and when out, I will refer to him as "he". The semantics are to keep myself from getting confused…Oh, and the wig will usually be the indicator. For instance, if she's undressing, the moment the wig comes of I will start using 'he'. On the contrary, if it is taken off by someone else or is off for a very short period of time, she may still be refered to as she. It all depends on the situation. If she is the one to take it off, I don't care if she's still got the skirt and makeup on, she will from then on be he. And when people are talking about her, but she is not physically there, she will also be she. Most of the time, except for, well…you'll figure it out okay? Okay, I'm shutting up now, just please enjoy, everyone. I live to make people happy.

One last thing: Song of the week (I'll have one of these every week just incase someone feels like having something to listen to) Of All the Gin Joints in All the World – Fall Out Boy.

Disclaimer: I'm not just about to disgrace the memory of Jonathan Larson by claiming this is mine! I'm not that creative! ME NO OWNIE ANYTHING!

Prologue: Meeting an Angel

"Thomas, child! Get down here and eat your breakfast!"

Thomas Collins groaned and sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes and glaring at the light streaming in through his bedroom window, outside of which a chipmunk was perched on a long branch of the oak tree which blocked half his window with it's voluminous green leaves. The chipmunk squeaked at the site of movement in the room it had been staring into and scampered into some unseen region of the tree.

Groaning at the sound of his grandmother yelling again, he screamed, "I'M UP, GRAMS!" Before rolling out of bed (literally) and all but crawling to the bathroom.

He groaned at the sight of his messy, longer (or puffier, as his hair didn't so much grow down as out) than usual hair; it was time for a haircut again. Meaning another one of Jessica Collins' butchered-hair specials, which he knew he would have to pretend to like for the seven-year-old's sake, before letting his mother fix it as soon as she was gone.

He examined the rest of his reflection. He had puffy cheeks; the type that filled out a lot at the top when he smiled, which he'd inherited from his mother. His skin was the color of coffee with a bit of cream added, and his eyes were brown. He had grown tall the last few years and his head was only a few inches below the top of the mirror. He smiled brightly at his own reflection, and then scowled, just to see what it would look like. He laughed at himself, realizing he was just being psychotic now, and quickly opened the medicine cabinet, yanking his toothbrush and paste out from the piles of products on the shelves.

After brushing his teeth to get rid of morning breath, he showered quickly and got dressed. He exited his bedroom in time to see Jessica zoom down the hall at light speed, clutching her doll.

"What's up, Jess?" Collins questioned, stopping the girl by placing a hand in front of her for her to slow down. She didn't and crashed her forehead into his hand, protesting loudly at the sudden lack in motion and the pain, and glared at her older brother. "Margaret fell in the sink! I need to put her in the dryer to dry out!"

Staring at the sequins on the doll's dress, no doubt made of cheep plastic that would melt in the hot confines of the dryer, he shook his head. "Not a good idea, kido. How about we clip her dress to the clothes line and you dry her hair with a towel?"

She stared at Collins in shock. "Nu-uh! I'm not letting Margaret go naked! 'Specially in front of…" her voice quieted to a whisper as though the doll would not want to head her next word. "Boys…"

He frowned. "Does your doll have testosterone issues?"

She frowned in return, exaggerating it in the way only a seven-year-old could. "No! She just doesn't like cooties! And everyone knows all boys have cooties! You should know that, Tommy! Since you are a boy!"

"What if I acted like a girl?" Collins asked. It was one of Jessica's favorite games; 'What If'. "Would I still have cooties then?"

She thought for a second. "I guess not…because if you acted like a girl, then you'd grow your hair out…but you'd still have then until you grew your hair out because if you have short hair, you're a boy."

Collins shook his head, not for the first time trying to understand the logic of a seven-year-old, and continued down the hallway, calling to Jessica, "Jess, if you don't want Margaret and her dress to be melted blobs of goo in the dryer, then don't put her in it!"

At the shriek of, "GOO?!" from the laundry room, he knew he had won the argument and smiled, celebrating the minor victory in his head.

"Child, what did you say to your sister?" Alberta Collins questioned her grandson as he sauntered in, looking proud of himself.

"I just told her that if she didn't want to scoop melted Barbie off of the dryer's drum, then she shouldn't try to put Margaret through it," was Collins' simple and rushed response as he walked over to where his mother was flipping pancakes and took an already-prepared plate from the counter next to her, greeting, "Morning, Mama" along with a kiss to the cheek, and plopped his plate onto the table, sitting down next to his grandma. "Pass the syrup, Grams."

"How are you this morning, Tom?" Alberta questioned, taking another bite of her own pancakes while passing the teenager the syrup as requested.

"Fine," he replied. "Roger and Mark are gonna be here later; we're gonna hang out someplace."

"Where would "someplace" be?" Suzan Collins, paranoid mother of two that she was, always needed to know where her children would be located.

He shrugged. "We were thinking about going to Mark's. Or maybe Roger's. But Roger's mom works midnights, so she probably won't want us making noise downstairs so yeah, probably Mark's. Or, we might go hang out a Sylvia's, or we might –"

"In other words, the boy doesn't know where they're going to be," Grams concluded.

"Well, when you end up where you end up," Suzan continued, placing her own plate of pancakes before the chair at the head of the table and sitting. "Call me either from the house phone or the nearest payphone if you can find one, and tell me where you are."

Collins nodded – That wouldn't be too hard, there was a payphone and bus stop on nearly every corner in their small New England town. And he knew for a fact that Sylvia's Pizza Parlor had a payphone on its corner. "We got any orange juice, Mom?"

"Fridge," Suzan replied through a mouthful of syrup and dough.

Collins rose, pushing his plate back so the ever-energetic Daisy, a golden retriever puppy which they had gotten a month ago, couldn't get to it.

The man of the house, Clayton Collins, came tromping down the stairs just then, knotting his tie. Looking up towards his family, he smiled noticing they were mostly all there and entered the kitchen, kissing Suzan's cheek and grabbing his own breakfast plate, taking a seat next to his son and patting him on the shoulder. "Good morning, everyone." He glanced around, obviously looking for a missing something or someone. "Where's Jess?"

"Hanging her Barbie out the window," Collins snorted into his orange juice. "She should be down in a minute."

Sure enough, the little girl came skipping down the stairs a few moments later and retook her seat, resuming the munching of her half-eaten stack of pancakes.

"Hey there, Princess," Clayton greeted, smiling across the table at his daughter. Jessica beamed in response, not wanting to talk with her mouth full but trying to convey the returning of the sentiment.

"So what's on the agenda this fine summer day?" Clayton asked.

"Your mother said something about taking Jessica to the park; let her feed the pigeons," Suzan revealed. "Tom was just telling us that Roger and Mark would be by later to drag him off someplace."

"Where will you be going?" the accountant questioned his son.

"Anywhere between Mark's house and Sylvia's, apparently," Grams mumbled. "Those boys can't seem to decide anything."

"Who's Sylvia?" Clayton questioned.

"Sylvia's is the pizza place, Dad," Collins reminded, rolling his eyes. Daisy snuffled at the hair hopefully as Grams rose and placed her plate in the sink, running water over it and replacing it in the dish washer.

"Or we might go to the record shop," Collins added as an after thought, remembering something Roger had said about wanting a new album from some band he hadn't heard of, but which apparently Mark disliked.

"Well, I think we've pretty much covered most of the town's social establishments," Suzan remarked.

Shrugging and popping the last bit of pancake in his mouth, Collins stood and repeated his grandmother's actions at the sink. He rolled his eyes at Daisy, whom was whining at his sister's feet, and remarked, "Dog acts like she hasn't eaten in a week…"

"Have you been feeding that dog, Jess?" Grams asked, fueling Collins' thunder by going along with the joke.

"Yes," Grumbled an outraged Jess, indignant that anyone would even think of accusing her of not taking care of her dog.

The doorbell rang then, and Collins bounded down the front hallway, yelling, "I'll bet that's them!" to his family before reaching the door and yanking it open, coming face-to-face with Roger Davis. Grinning, he high-fived the blonde, looking over his shoulder to see some girl who he vaguely remembered seeing at school at some point. "Hi…?"

"Oh, right," Roger said, turning towards the girl. "Mimi, Tom Collins, call him Collins. Collins, Mimi. She's a friend of Mark's, she wanted to come along."

"Where is Mark anyway?" Collins questioned, smiling at the younger girl. She was short and very skinny, wearing a blue tee-shirt and a jean skirt. Her hair was very kinky and slung over one shoulder; he could imagine it making a nice nest for a few rats if she ever neglected to take care of it for a day. Her skin was a darkish color; a little too dark to just be a tan, obviously speaking of Hispanic decent.

"Around the corner someplace," Roger replied. Roger was tall (though standing next to Collins he looked average) with short, light blonde hair that he maintained religiously. He seemed to always be wearing the same pair of plaid pants (In actuality, he'd gotten five pairs of them at a discount price several years ago) and today had chosen a green tee-shirt to go along with them. "Stopped to do something like film a leaf falling from a tree…"

Collins shook his head; their friend was going through an abstract phase at the moment, only filming in-the-moment things, and had sworn off filming human life until his next project was done.

"So Mimi," Collins began, looking towards the girl; Mimi, Roger had introduced her as. "Where do you live?"

"A few blocks away from Mark," she replied. "I go to your school; I'm a member of student council?"

"Oh, right," Collins stated, knowing he'd seen her someplace. "Yeah, you're Mimi Marquez. You're always getting up and promoting Student Council at assemblies and stuff, right? You're like the president or something?"

"Treasurer, actually," Mimi replied. "We've got a really lazy president, and a vice president who's totally terrified of public speaking, so I get all the speaking work pushed onto me. I used to be on debate squad, too. I find arguing as an extra curricular an interesting concept. But then my ex boyfriend joined and I didn't really find it fun anymore, so I quite. Quite Student Council, too…lot of pompous bastards, not enough fun."

Collins nodded, realizing this girl was one of those sharing-types.

"Mimi's the type of person who'll tell you her entire life story in response to one question," Mark revealed, coming out of no where to stand next to said Latina. "She's a friend of mine from student council."

Mark was pale and strawberry blonde. Collins loved to refer to him as his 'albino pumpkin-head'. Mark was also Jewish and very defensive of his religion even though he was the first to mouth off about it when something rubbed him the wrong way. He was always wearing the same blue and white scarf and seemed to have his camera (gifted to him at age thirteen by his grandmother) permanently welded to his hand.

"He's the vice president who's totally terrified of public speaking," Mimi piped up, grinning at Mark. "So where are we going, guys?"

"Well, seeing as we all just ate breakfast, Sylvia's is out," Collins remarked, sitting on the top step of his stoop, leaning his elbows on his knees and pondering. "Roger – didn't you say something about the record store on Thursday?"

"Yeah," Roger agreed. "Everyone okay with going there?"

They all agreed and congregated together at the stoop, waiting for Collins to go in and alert his family of his leaving, before hurrying back out. "Ready?"

"When you are," Roger replied, watching as Collins pulled out his keys and unlocked the front driver's side door of his red sedan (Which had been his mother's until his seventeenth birthday that previous January), using the driver's controls to unlock the rest of the doors. All three other teens crowded into the car, Mark in the front passenger's side, with Mimi behind him in the back and Roger next to her behind Collins. "Buckle up, guys."

"You're no fun," Roger remarked, the only one to complain.

"No, I'm smart," Collins replied, tapping his temple. "I don't need another violation."

"Don't argue with the man," Mark advised, from where he was placing his camera back in a blue bag he had slung around his neck. Mark was still driving on a permit and was a very cautious driver.

"Do you usually not wear a seatbelt?" Mimi asked, as Collins pulled out of the driveway and began down the street of the neighborhood they all lived in.

Roger shrugged. "We're going five miles down the road; it's gonna take like ten minutes to get there. And Collins is a safe driver."

Mimi rolled her eyes. "You're one of the rebel types, right? One of those ones that rocks out to Metal and goes to wild parties?"

Roger shrugged. "Not really…"

"Roger's actually more of a poet than the thug he appears to be, if you can believe it," Collins told her, rolling down his window and letting the warm summer air blow around the car. "And if you tell anyone that, I'm sure we'll find your body someday."

"Ha. Ha," Mimi replied dryly.

"And let me guess," Roger began. "You're one of those goody-goody types, huh? The teacher's pet and all?" At Mimi's responding scowl and shove, he knew he had either hit the right note, or struck a nerve.

"That's were you're wrong," Mimi growled. "I can be as bad as I want. I ain't any good girl, boy."

Roger looked a tiny bit afraid, and mumbled, "So you don't follow the rules?"

Mimi shrugged, replying, "No; I just…tip-toe around some of them. Without rules, this world will fall into chaos. Just not all of them are important."

"Oh, really?" Mark interrupted, not wanting an argument to distract Collins – his mother had made sure that he'd had all the ways and rules of traffic drilled into his brain the second he turned sixteen. "Then maybe you could attempt to explain the wonders of rules to our friend Collins here."

"How so?" Mimi questioned cautiously.

"Anarchy is his thing," Roger informed, chuckling.

Mimi frowned and took to staring out her window.

They arrived at the record store not ten minutes after they left (It never took more than fifteen minutes to get anywhere in that town) and Roger hoped out, more than eager to escape the awkward quiet that had enveloped them all since Mimi's lapse into silence. Mark wound around and opened Mimi's door for her, hopping onto the sidewalk in front of the store and watching the Latina emerge from the red car and smooth down her skirt.

They entered the store to find that Roger had already run off down one of the many isles of music, but they could clearly see his head bobbing up and down to something he was listening to in the nearby rock section, and didn't feel the need to go join him. Looking from one person to the next, Collins announced, "I'm gonna go over and look at the new releases, anyone wanna come with?"

Mimi, who didn't know a whole lot about the modern music scene as most of her mother's musical tastes were still preoccupied with the sixties, declined and instead headed off into the jazz section.

They weren't there five minutes when and loud cry of, "Mimichica!" rang through the store and the body of a tall girl crashed into Mimi's. Mimi, looking slightly stunned for all of two seconds, quickly realized who her attacker was and cried, "Angel!" in return, before hugging the brunette tightly.

Collins, noticing the ruckus, put the record he was looking at down and made his way down the aisle Mimi was in, cautiously approaching the two girls.

The new person – Angel, Mimi had called her – was also a Latina. She wore a knee-length violet skirt and a yellow, long-necked short-sleeved top. Collins was pretty sure combining these two colors was some sort of fashion-don't but she somehow made it work. Her hair was a dark chocolate brown and cut in a style that reached her jaw line in front but got progressively shorter as it ascended back. She also had heals on, but Collins guessed that even without the tall shoes she would still tower over the short Mimi.

"Hi," He greeted friendlily. "I'm Collins. You're a friend of Mimi's?"

"Are you?" Angel asked, looking him up and down, smiling. "I've never met you, I don't think."

"He's a friend of Mark's," Mimi told her. "This is Angel, Collins. Angel Dumott Schunard. And that's Tom Collins, Angel. He's an anarchist."

Angel grinned. "Really?"

Collins shrugged. "I wouldn't choose that word exactly…"

Angel giggled, shaking Collins' hand – actually, she'd been wondering if his name was really Tom Collins. "Well, whatever. It's still a pleasure to meet you, Collins."

"You too, Angel," Collins returned, shaking back, though with about half of the enthusiasm. He realized he loved the way her accent twisted the 'o' in his name to sound more like an 'a'.

Angel smiled at him again. It was a rather enchanted smile; almost a grin and Collins suddenly realized they'd been shaking hands for a full minute, though there wasn't any more up and down action so it appeared as though they were just gripping hands in midair.

"Hey, Collins!" Roger called across three rows. "Come check out this single – It's supposed to be good."

"Hey, I have a better idea," Collins replied. "Bring the vinyl here, and meet pretty little Angel over here while I'm lookin' at it!"

Angel immediately blushed, looked at Mimi who told her, "He likes you," In a tone that she obviously thought Collins wouldn't hear. He did, and smiled. She was sure cute – a very attractive Latina with spicy flare. But he just wasn't that interested in her like that. Could it be the fact that he was gay? Ah, yes; he was rather under the impression that it was. But he grinned charmingly at Angel all the same. She blushed and smiled down at the ground, shuffling her feet.

But there was something different about her; he couldn't put his finger on it, but she just wasn't like other girls…Maybe it was just her peculiar fashion sense.

"Okay," Roger mumbled, confused as he wandered over to them, handing Collins the record. "Hi, I'm Roger Davis. You are…?"

"Angel Dumott Schunard," Angel replied, shaking his hand energetically. "I'm a friend of Mimi's. I hope I'm not intruding on anything?"

"No," Roger replied. "We weren't really doing anything. What do you think, man?"

Collins shrugged. "I've heard it on the radio, and it's really nothing to scream about. If you wanna buy it, fine with me, but don't expect me to be pitching in."

Roger nodded and took the record back; holding onto it which meant he'd either already decided to buy it or was seriously leaning towards that option. Looking back towards Angel, he questioned, "So…You go to our school?"

"Mmm-hmm," Angel replied, staring at an album. "Hey, Mimi – Check it out, these guys are great."

As Mimi took the album from her, Roger stared at her in confusion. "I've never seen you around…and our class is pretty small."

"Mimi and I are a year younger than you," Angel replied, smiling. "We're going into eleventh this year, and you're seniors, right? Yeah. So we don't have the same classes. What lunch did you have last year?"

"'A'," Rodger said.

"See, that's why I didn't see you – I had 'B' lunch," Angel revealed, rocking on the balls of her feet in a way which made her giddiness obvious. "So, do you like?"

Mimi nodded, pressing the album back into her fellow Latina's hands. "Yeah. Track eight is one of my favorite songs. Buy it, Chica!"

Angel followed commands and removed the bright orange backpack from around her shoulders, rummaging through it until she found a pink wallet covered in cute drawings of frogs, and removed a small stack of money – mostly ones.

"Got enough?" Mimi pestered, glancing over her friend's shoulder.

"Well…factoring tax…" Angel mumbled. "I'm about a dollar fifty short; anyone wanna help me out?"

Collins' hand flew to his jeans pocket seemingly without thought and pulled out a pile of change, searching through it and eventually locating six quarters. He gathered them into an organized piled and placed them in Angel's hand, curling her fingers around the mound of change as though placing a dear object in her hands. "Here."

Angel stared down at the stack of change, looking back up and smiling shyly at Collins. "Thanks. I'll pay you back."

Collins shook his head. "Consider it a favor – No need."

Angel grinned and added the quarters to her handful of money. "Thanks a lot, Collins." Bouncing up and down at the knees a few times, she looked over at Mimi, giggling and dragging her to the pay counter with her.

"She's cute," Roger told Collins, watching the girl's backside appreciatively as she bounced alongside Mimi to the counter.

"Which one?" Collins asked, feeling rather possessive all of a sudden. Something animalistic and primal in him wanted to show Roger where he stood, as though he'd made his claim. God, he had to stop thinking this way; he was sure it was bad for his health.

"Both of them," Roger replied, leering over at Collins with a smirk. "The one – Angel – She's a bit flat though, if you know what I'm saying…"

Collins slapped Rodger in the back of the head. "Come on, man! Think on top of your shoulders for once! Not between your legs!"

"Like you weren't staring at the exact same things I was," Roger grumbled, crossing his arms.

Collins stared at him like he'd suddenly gone completely insane. "You really think so, Roger?"

Roger opened his mouth, but closed it again. "Aw, shit. That's right! Sorry, man; I forgot."

Collins shrugged; he supposed he couldn't blame Roger. He and Mark were the first people he'd come out to, and that had really been by force when they'd been over and discovered a copy of Men's Health under his pillow. They had known it wasn't for the advice on how to get perfect abs. But he guessed every gay guy had to get that 'forcibly evicted from the closet' experience once, and his had just come early on. The only problem was he wasn't sure if he wanted to be more thankful or resentful of that fact.

The girls were back beside them quickly enough, Angel toting a black bag with the store's yellow logo on it. "You know, it's so unfair that I've been away most of the summer! We've only got two weeks of freedom left!"

"Where were you?" Collins asked.

"In Guatemala," Angel replied, "visiting some relatives."

"So you're Guatemalan?" Collins asked.

"And Puerto Rican," Angel replied. "That's just where my mother's side of the family is from. It's…complicated."

"Oh," Collins replied; this girl was becoming more and more exotic in his eyes the longer he talked to her. It was obvious she was of Hispanic decent but he still had to wonder about the name. "So…You're Puerto Rican on your dad's side and Guatemalan on your mom's side, yet you have a French last name."

"Pretty much," Angel replied, pretending to ponder the accurate summarization.

"Where's your last name from then?" Collins asked, as they all migrated towards several tables located in the coffee shop in the record store. He, Angel, and Mimi sat down at one table while Roger chose one in the same general area and reserved a place for Mark by resting his foot in the second chair across from him.

"Well, my mom's dad is French, and her mother was Guatemalan," Angel explained, beginning the long, complicated story of her last name. "My father was French and Puerto Rican. My mom moved to Puerto Rico on a student Visa and stayed there on that until she got her green card and then her citizenship. Then, she met my father. They never married and when I was born, they hyphenated my last name; Dumott, my father, and Schunard, my mother. Then my father left my mother for some bitch with implants and we moved here after my mother helped my grandma get her green card. I was eight at the time. So I had to learn a new grammar system and deal with people telling me for the first three months of third grade that I talked funny. Not that I still didn't talk funny after three months, they just got used to it. I'm babbling again, right? I'll shut up."

Mimi sighed, reaching across the table and patting Angel's arm, trying to hold in her laughter. "Yeah, Chica…I think that's best."

Angel pouted playfully, looking over at Collins. "Does that explain the whole thing? I know it's confusing but…story of my life, huh?"

"Hey, if you wanna hear a story some time, ask Collins about moving all the way from New Mexico to New York with his grandmother driving the whole way. Now that's a tale," Roger snorted.

"Here you guys are. Thought I'd lost ya," Mark suddenly materialized at their side at the table, a bag swinging from his arm. Upon closer inspection, Collins could see the cover of the latest Pat Benatar album through the translucent yellow of the flimsy shopping bag. "Oh, hey Angel. I didn't know you were back from your trip yet."

"We aren't supposed to be," Angel replied. "But some shit went down between my mom and Aunt Eva and we caught an early flight back. What's going on in your world, Marky? How are things going with Maureen?"

"Oh, as good as they ever have," Mark sighed, wandering over from his and Roger's table and leaning against it. "I tried to convince to her go to summer camp with me this year, but she wouldn't budge. So it was pretty lonely without you."

"You go to Mark's summer camp?" Collins asked, by now really wondering why they hadn't meant before. "Have you been hiding from Mark's other friends or is it just some huge coincidence that we've never meant before? 'Cuz I would have thought you'd just come up in conversation at one point or another."

Angel shrugged.

"Wait…" Rodger mumbled from the next table, where Mark laid his things and sat down. "Isn't Mark's summer camp guys only?"

"They recently began allowing girls," Angel informed, her eyebrows pushed together in a little more offense than Collins thought she should have taken given the circumstances. "About three years ago. Why would Mark be trying to convince his girlfriend to come along if it was boys only?"

"Oh," Roger mumbled, blushing slightly at the realization of his second faux pas in less than half an hour. "Right. Sorry."

Angel excused it with a smile and a wave of a brilliant-blue nail-lacquered hand, seeming to get over it quite quickly despite the level of defense which had backed her earlier statement. Maybe the girl was having a hormonal week or something…

Collins took the liberty of getting them all coffee – All of them iced mochas; it was the middle of August, after all. Angel and Mimi requested a piece of cheesecake to share and Roger and Mark both wanted a big cookie, so Angel came along and helped him carry everything. He handed her two drinks and she giggled, staring at the cookies and plate and questioned, "Okay, how're we gonna do this?"

"Good question," Collins appraised, grinning at her. "Let's see… I think I can take one more cup if you can get the cookies and we can have Mimi come over here and get the cheesecake."

"Genius," Angel replied, shifting one of the iced mochas from her hand into the crook Collins' elbow created. She snorted when some sloshed out of one of the cups she was holding and licked the side, mumbling, "Guess this one's mine…" before grabbing the cookies and leading the way back over to the table.

"Mimi, go get the cheesecake; will you Chica?" Angel requested as she distributed the coffees, laying the one already contaminated with her DNA in front of her place. She glanced at the marking on one of the cookie bags. "Who got the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip? Or are they the same?"

Mark held his hand out for the cookie while Roger told Angel he'd 'ordered peanut butter, thank you very much' and jokingly snatched the bag from her. She pretended to look offended, crossed her arms and huffed, sitting down with an obnoxious, plop into her chair. Everyone laughed at their antics.

"So…any heads up from you guys for junior year this year?" Mimi asked hopefully, glancing at the two future seniors at the table. Mark, a junior as well, also glanced up in interest. Angel nodded her interest in the question while pulling her spoon slowly from her mouth, relishing the chocolate cheesecake. Collins found himself fascinated by her.

"Uhm…Well, if you get Mrs. McMillan, then you've got it pretty easy," Roger said, grinning. "She's a great science teacher – she works with you and she's really nice. Mrs. King is the one you've gotta worry about."

"Woman has eyes in the back of her head," Collins agreed. "Not to mention horns hidden under that mop she calls hair."

"I swear, the first time I saw that woman, I thought she was a man in woman's clothing," Roger mumbled, grinning.

Collins noticed Angel bristle.

"There's really nothing memorable or noteworthy about the rest of 'em," Collins said, shrugging. "They're teachers – nothing remarkable."

Mimi nodded, scrapping chocolate from off the bottom of the plate.

"So you're an anarchist," Angel began, leaning across the table and smiled a secretive grin at him, which Mimi saw and grinned about. Obviously, both girls knew something he didn't. In fact – he was pretty sure Mark was in on the whole thing too, whatever it was. "What exactly does that entitle, Mr. Collins?"

Collins shrugged. "I dunno, basically…going against authority. Going against the rules…against the grain."

"Doing everything you can to piss off the higher powers, huh?" Angel asked.

Collins nodded. "Yeah. I can hang cool with that."

"I guess we're kind of alike in that regard," Angel murmured, mysteriously. She didn't explain her statement, just gave him a look which he suspected had a deeper meaning than he could decode.

Angel eventually had to leave, telling the boys and Mimi that she'd promised her mother that she'd be back by two o'clock. The rest finished their coffees, and wandered around the strip mall the record store was in for a while longer, before a mutual want to leave drew them all back to Collins' red four door by three o'clock. First to be dropped off was Roger, then Mimi only about two blocks down. Collins and Mark were left alone in the car, with a comfortable silence nestled around them.

"I think Angel likes you," Mark mumbled.

"You think?" Collins asked, eyes straying from the road for all of a split second to glance at Mark out of the corner of his eyes. Mark looked scandalized at the action, and Collins turned his eyes back to the road, knowing he'd probably lost Safe Driver merits from the strawberry blonde boy.

"I'm sure, in fact," Mark replied. "She was using every Angel Dumott Schunard Patented Flirting Technique in the book."

Collins nodded. "She's not my type, man. The vagina would be a bit of a turn off."

Mark nodded. "Well, you might want to revise that once you get to know her."

Collins rolled his eyes; even if she had the greatest personality on the face of the planet, he wasn't just about to go straight for that girl. He could ignore that impulse in the back of his mind, right? Right? "How's that, Mark?"

Mark shook his head. "Nothing…It's…not my place to tell you. Angel'll tell you when she's ready."

"Mark, boy, you ain't making no sense over there, you know that?"

"You'll understand eventually," Mark said, mysteriously as he unbuckled his seatbelt; they'd arrived at his house. He got out, waving, and walked into the house.

Collins shook his head, frowning. "What is your secret, Angel Dumott Schunard? What is your secret…?"

End chapter; TBC


One more thing, then I'll let you go on with your lives: Update day is Friday. I will be post every Friday at or around four P.M.; set your clocks by it, people. I'm reliable this time.