A/N: This is an entry for fanfic100. It's a live journal community where you write 100 stories based on one-word prompts. It's totally awesome and I have the only RENT claim right now. I'd like to see some of you do it – I know you're all awesome writers. Wow, I sounded a helluva lot like my English teacher right there…

I'm probably gonna push the first three prompts – beginnings, middles, ends – into one chapter story. I'm planning on posting most of my stories I write for the challenge (My claim is Angel/Collins) but some of them I probably won't, because undoubtedly I'll come to one or two where I do a sucky job just to get it done. But if you want to see them as I get them done, including the ones I don't post here, the Live Journal account I'm using to post them is Keffer94. :D

Disclaimer: Jonathon Larson (RIP!) owns all!! I'm just playing with them, but promise to return them to the toy box when I'm done playing. Though I can't ensure they'll be in their original conditions…especially Roger…("No molesting Roger, Lynn!") ALRIGHT ALREADY! I ALREADY PROMISED! GET OFF MY BACK! God…


Beginnings

I stood on the corner of Avenue A and East Eleventh, staring blankly at the shimmering street, under the awning hanging off the side of some building in the alley I was huddled in. The rain was still pouring down, as it had been that morning when I'd been sitting in this same spot; drumming on my pickle tub and trying to work my way to a half-way decent dinner. That was, until some crazy woman in a big black limousine had pulled up and beckoned me into her monster of a vehicle.

Having grown up in Spanish Harlem, I was wary of anyone who drove up and wanted me to come closer. But the woman had seemed no threat; she had to have been at least sixty, with high, jutting cheekbones and a large forehead, unnaturally stretched skin covering her face. She'd either had some seriously botched plastic surgery or had just come back from a botox injection.

However, the lady (whom told me I could call her Mrs. O in a tone that very bluntly said I was barely worthy of calling her anything, in her opinion) had turned out to be a threat of sorts. Not to me, but to a little dog – an Akita named Evita – whom lived in the apartment next to hers, and apparently made a habit of barking at ungodly hours of the morning and night. Her request of me was simple: kill the dog, get 1000 dollars. Later she'd tacked on another five hundred when she remembered she still needed her tree trimmed and figured she might as well have me do that as well.

Afterwards she'd dropped me right back on the corner she'd picked me up on, despite my asking her several times if she'd mind dropping me off at my apartment, that it was only a block further than the street corner we were headed to anyway. She'd completely ignored me, and I had to say I was insulted, even if I hadn't expected much from a wealthy lady, being a street bum and everything. Though I couldn't bring myself to inform her of her rudeness – even when she literally shoved me out the door of her limo. The woman had just made me fifteen hundred dollars richer. My mama taught me right and one of her teachings was that you didn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

So here I was on Avenue A, trying to make sense of what I'd just done. Or maybe accept it. It was hard to tell – I wasn't really sure there was a difference. It wasn't the most horrible thing I'd ever done. That apartment hadn't been bought with a street drummer's wages and I hadn't gotten AIDS from drumming, either. Let's just put it that way. But I'd put a stop to that several years ago. As illegal as prostitution was, prostitution with HIV/AIDS was twice as much, I was pretty sure. And I wouldn't wish that disease upon anyone.

Then I thought about killing that poor puppy dog. Granted, it was annoying, but it was a puppy. With a little training and TLC that problem would have been gone. I guess I tried to rationalize by saying I didn't really see the reality of it before it was too late – the poor thing had already tried to lunge at me from the opposing balcony, and hadn't made it. I'd hopped up and ran pell-mell out of that place the second I'd seen that little cream ball of fur shooting towards the ground, twenty-three stories below. Mrs. O had caught up with me in the hallway, yanking on my arm harshly and pulling me to an abrupt halt. She demanded what was wrong with me and if I thought I could get away with money I hadn't earned. I'd forgotten until that point that I'd also promised to trim her tree.

Come to think of it, that might be why she'd dropped me off in the still-pouring rain. Teach me a lesson I'd already had drilled into me by Mama; "Don't take what you haven't earned, Angelo…" She hadn't wanted her baby boy to turn out like all the boys running around the neighborhood at the time. What I had turned into wasn't that, but I had the feeling she had yet to decide if it was worse.

My thoughts were going a mile a minute, linking themselves to each other in ways that didn't make sense to even me. I decided to just try and get it out of my mind, sitting down on an overturned wastepaper basket and beginning to drum. This was what I did to calm myself down; and it was raining much to hard for me to risk even the short walk back home. I'd wait it out and see if it cleared up. If not I'd walk with my pickle tub shoved over my head and take a warm bath the second I got home. Come to think of it, a warm bath sounded nice anyway.

Thankfully, the rain started to let up after a few minutes and I started finishing up my beat. A girl walked by and flipped a coin onto my pickle tub. I gave her a thank-you and wished her a merry Christmas. But my beat hadn't been finished – I'd feel weird if I didn't finish it. I didn't know why that was, but it just always happened.

But I wasn't destined to finish it, for something from the alley situated cattycorner to mine made a loud, wheezing noise. After a few seconds of no sound I started to think I'd imagined it, but then the sound rang out again. A cough. Hmm…

I hopped up, gathering both drumsticks into one hand, shoving my tub under my arm and starting towards the alley. "Hello? Anyone there?"

More coughing in reply; someone had to be down there, and they were either sick or hurt really bad. As I got closer, I recognized the profile of a man. Pretty young-looking; his forehead was smooth and his cheeks full, free of any of the lines an old hacking homeless person would have had. He'd been in a struggle of some sort. Since this was an alleyway in the middle of the East Village, I had to figure a mugging.

"Oh my Gosh! Are you okay, honey?!" I sped up my feet, reaching him in a matter of seconds. I could see the blood on his dark face, his hands cradling his nose and lips. I squatted down next to him to get a better look.

"'M 'friad so…" he muttered, pulling his hand away to look at the amount of blood on it, gulping and grimacing at the taste of his own blood. Poor thing.

"Did they get anything, or…?" I said, placing my hand on his knee to comfort him. Until I was able to assert how much damage had been done, I couldn't really do much more for him than tha

"Didn't really have anything for them to get," He sighed. "Had no money on me, but they got my stuff…my coat." He sighed, yanking the torn jacket sleeve off his arm. "Well…you missed a sleeve…" he grumbled bitterly while tossing the sleeve in the gutter.

Bitter really wasn't a good look on him. Under all that blood was a gorgeous face, I could tell. I loved his cheeks – very high and rather large. They'd puff up a lot if it ever occurred to him to smile.

I took the pink handkerchief out of my pocket, holding it out to him. He shook his head, something akin to alarm flashing in his eyes. I was kind of hurt that he didn't trust me – I hadn't used this cloth for anything but wiping rain water off my forehead. Then again, I guess you couldn't win them all at a glance.

"It's okay," I assured. "I haven't used this."

The way he looked at me, I realized I must have misunderstood the cause of his panic. But he cautiously reached out and grabbed the cloth, running it over his bloodied face and revealing a little more of his dark skin. "Thanks."

"Hell, it's Christmas Eve," I sighed, patting his knee. He winced. Oops. I looked down and saw my hand was over a rip in his jeans. I yanked my hand away, apologizing quickly. My legs were getting tired from kneeling for so long so I overturned my pickle tub and sat upon it, awkwardly informing, "Uhm…I'm Angel."

"Angel?" He asked, taking his face out of the rag and glancing at me. He seemed to be taking me in for the first time and got a look on his face that said he liked what he saw. I blushed just a bit, turning my head down in a coy move. All he did was smile a bit and folded the rag, placing it in his own pocket. I guess he figured I didn't want it back and he was right. "Indeed. You're an angel of the first degree."

There were many ways I could take that and all were good. I smiled. Call me cocky but I was pretty sure he was flirting with me. Again, I asked in my coy way – which had become more of a façade than anything – if he had a name.

"Friends call me Collins," he told me. "Tom Collins."

"You're kidding," I giggled.

"Nope," he sighed, trying to stand up.

"Do you want to come up to my apartment?" I asked, pointing a window that shone with the lights from a Christmas tree. "That's it right there. I can get you cleaned up?"

"Uhm…sure," he agreed. "Nice, erm, tree."

I grinned and helped him up, saying, "Let's get a band-aid for your knee. I'll change – there's a Life Support meeting at nine thirty that I want to get to."

"Life Support?" he questioned, recognition in his voice.

I sighed. Why'd I have to open my big mouth? He'd probably run for the hills now. Okay, out with it. "Yes; that's right. This body provides a comfortable home for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome."

"As does mine," he said, shock in his voice.

That wasn't happy news but I couldn't help but grin. That meant so many good things for me and him. I simpered, "Ooh…we'll get along fine."

He giggled a bit as we continued down the street.

"How about you stay with me for a bit after I get you all fixed up?" I asked with a smile. "We can get you a new coat, have a bite…make a night." I murmured, "I'm flush…" turning towards him and leaning into him as much as I dared. If I came on too strong I might just freak him out. We did not want that; nonono.

"I hate to disappoint you, but my friends are waiting." Excuses, excuses. His face held no sighs of panic, as if I was starting to come on too strong for his liking; just shyness, a blush painting his cheeks.

I grinned and stepped closer. "You're cute when you blush." I flicked his nose and added, "The more the merrier, honey. And Collins? I do not take no."

He laughed a bit as I continued to help him up to my apartment.

Up in my apartment, I directed him towards the couch and told him to sit down. The thing was basically a piece of shit – it was missing a leg so rocked forwards and to the left when someone sat on it. The cushions were all crappy and sagged insanely. But it was better than nothing.

He sat on the sofa and I sat on the coffee table in front of him. The coffee table was lower than the cushions, sagging included, and his legs were long so I was practically in-between his legs. I blushed a bit as I bent over his knee to check the damage. Ripped open his jeans a bit more to get a better look, apologizing for further damaging what must have been one of the only articles of clothing he could call his own at the moment. Not that the things were really salvageable anyway – ripped and bloodied with deep, inset dirt stains from sitting in the alleyway – but still. Mama taught me manors too, by the way.

He assured me he would trash them as soon as he got to his friend's place and had his hands on some of his own clothing.

I sighed. "Honey, this doesn't look good. A band-aid's just not gonna do it…I've got some mercurochrome around here somewhere. Let me go get it. Take your pants off too if you've got anything on under them. That'll make this a lot easier."

He nodded as I walked off into the bathroom. I heard shuffling and knew he was removing his pants.

In the bathroom, I squatted down in front of the sink and opened the cabinet underneath, pulling out a large blue basket. It was a going away gift from my mom – a first-aid kit packed to the brim with miniature bottles and packets of everything; from decongestants to ointments to disinfectants. It took a minute of rooting through the thing to find the tiny bottle of mercurochrome, and a few more seconds to locate a few cotton balls. Then I shoved the basket back into the cabinet and went back towards the living room.

He was still on the couch, though this time only in his boxers. His shirt had been removed as well to reveal a few nasty bruises and more cuts.

"So where do you come from?" I asked to distract him from the pain of the mercurochrome. It was nasty stuff; alcohol based with an intense bite. I hated using it on myself.

"Boston," he said, gritting his teeth a bit, gripping the cushions loosely and keeping eye contact with me. "MIT. I had a teaching job there."

"Had?" I asked as I continued dabbing, trying to gently coax a bit of dirt out of his wound. His thigh twitched with every brush of the cotton ball. I made a hushing noise and caressed his hand.

"Uhm, yeah, I got fired recently," he muttered.

"What do you teach?" I inquired. I added, "Almost done, honey…"

"Computer-aged philosophy," he said.

"Hmm…sounds interesting," I lied. If the subject didn't involve making something, I usually wasn't interested.

"It is," he said. "It's even more interesting when the kids pay attention."

"You know, you look a little young to be a college professor," I noticed.

"I skipped two grades and graduated early," Collins said. "I know more than I really should about computers and I've always kind of known a lot. School was pretty easy for me."

I smiled, finally getting the pesky piece of grit out of the cut. I dabbed a little more to make sure everything was clean then bandaged it up. "There we go; all done. Want me to kiss it?" I giggled.

He shrugged. "Sure."

I blinked, but did as I proposed. When I looked back up, I saw his shining eyes and glanced down at his knee again, back up at his face. There was a bit of a blush under the chocolate skin and he'd leaned almost imperceptivity closer. He reached out to run his finger down my cheek. I shivered at his touch, the caress going right to my groin as the front of my jeans filled out a bit. It'd been much too long.

We leaned in, stalling a bit just as our faces became only a millimeter apart. I tipped my head to avoid bumping noses and pressed my lips to his.

There were two or three gentle kisses, our eyes fluttered closed. Then I pulled back and whispered, "Collins… You do realize we barely know each other, right?"

"So?" he asked. I couldn't agree more, but someone had to be the voice of reason.

"Should we do this?" I asked.

"I can't think of a reason why not," Collins said. "We're both dying Angel; no getting around it. Maybe we should cheat death and have a hell of a time while we're still alive."

I smiled. "I like that idea." And leaned in again, migrating over to the sofa to sit with him.

This wasn't just for the hell of it. This was the start of something new and wonderful; something beautiful. I could feel the beginning of the rest of my life starting, the old Angel falling away and the new Angel entering that shell. An Angel filled with hope for tomorrow and filled with love for the present. For everyone and everything. For the person sitting right next to me, holding me so gently and lovingly though we'd only just met.


End Story; Sequel to be Written

A/N: Subscribe to this story if you want to see the sequel, "Middles" and the last installment, "Ends". Middles and Ends are both rather sad, so be warned. Ends more so than Middles.

Thanks so much for reading!

-Lynn