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Remembering

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Cordelia brings back coffee; she sets Fred's on the counter that used to be the reception desk, back when this was a hotel, and backs away to let Fred get it.

She's not as scared as she was when she first got here, but people still startle her sometimes, so she waits until Cordelia's a few feet away drinking her own cappuccino before she reaches for her coffee.

She doesn't know the name for this drink, other than "coffee"--maybe she forgot, maybe she never knew--but it's hot and sweet and spicy and has mountains of whipped cream squeezed in between the coffee and the lid, and as Fred sips it, careful not to burn her tongue, she imagines tasting it on Cordelia's mouth, tongue chasing the last hints of spice as they kiss.

Just in time, she remembers that's the kind of thing people in the real world keep in their heads instead of saying out loud, and drinks more coffee.


***




Coffee aside, she doesn't think Cordelia likes her that much. It's not fair, really, because in Pylea Cordelia got to be a princess, and Fred was a cow, so there's no reason for Cordelia to resent her.

Fred likes Cordelia, even if she didn't expect to. It's not just that Cordelia's pretty--in a way that Fred never expected to like, either; the girls Fred has wanted in the past have always been a lot like her, and Cordelia's all nice clothes and shiny hair and perfect make-up, even when a vision knocks her to the floor. Cordelia's brave and smart and strong, just like everyone else here, and it makes Fred want to be brave and strong, too. She's got the smart part down already.

But Cordelia doesn't talk to Fred very much, and Fred sometimes sees Cordelia looking at her with a little frown that makes Fred expect her to pull Angel off for a serious conversation, and then for Angel to come and find Fred and tell her it's time to move on, that there's no place for her here.

She doesn't know what she's going to do when that happens; there's no place for her anywhere else, either. Fred thinks maybe she should try to find somewhere else to go, but she likes it here, so she decides to wait and see if she can figure out what makes Cordelia look at her like that, and stop doing it.


***



"Oh, for God's sake," Cordelia says, slapping her magazine down onto the counter.

Fred tries not to jump, tries not to skitter back and find something to hide under, because this is the Hyperion, this is the place where she's safe, and whatever's been pissing Cordelia off, it's not going to hurt Fred. Not physically, at least. And maybe not at all, because even though Cordelia keeps watching her with that strange little frown, it's started looking more confused than angry, and Cordelia's still perfectly nice to her.

"What's wrong?" Fred says, and is pretty impressed with herself, because she thinks that sounds like normal conversation. She's been working hard on that lately, now that she has people to talk to other than herself.

"You!" Cordelia says. She takes a few steps closer to Fred, but she stops when Fred can't keep herself from shrinking back a little. "I thought you were supposed to be some kind of genius," she goes on.

Fred shrugs; she thinks she's supposed to be some kind of genius, too, but she also thinks it's not exactly polite to say so. Besides, she doesn't know what Cordelia's getting at, here. "Okay," she says, finally, because she has to say something.

"And you're a woman, so you have absolutely no excuse for being clueless." Cordelia's smiling, a little, which just confuses Fred. Cordelia was yelling at her, wasn't she? She isn't supposed to be smiling.

"Okay," Fred repeats, because it's worked for her just fine so far.

Cordelia rolls her eyes and mutters something Fred can't hear; then she says, "Just--stand right there. I'm not going to hurt you, I promise, so don't freak out."

Fred nods, and Cordelia crosses the distance between them with a few steps. Fred makes herself hold still, because Cordelia has promised that she's safe, and Fred knows that she can trust Cordelia, just like she trusts Angel, and Wesley, and Charles.

Cordelia's arms go around her then, and Fred tenses for a second. She relaxes right away, though, because it's been a long time since she's been hugged, and that's what Cordelia's doing, pulling Fred close. Tentatively, Fred tries hugging back, and Cordelia seems to like that; she murmurs, "That's more like it," and presses her lips to Fred's.

She doesn't taste like coffee at all, but that's okay with Fred, because reality is even better.


***




Fred realizes this is the first time Cordelia's been in her room; Cordelia stops for a second, looking at the equations on the walls, but she doesn't say anything, just keeps kissing Fred as they shuffle over to the bed. Fred had stopped thinking about sex much in Pylea; it wasn't like she ever thought she was going to have any again, and most of the time, she was too hungry and cold and scared to miss it. But with Cordelia's mouth against hers and one of Cordelia's hands on her ass, Fred thinks she's starting to remember.

Once they're on her bed, Fred reaches for Cordelia, but stops, her hand hovering in the air a few inches away from Cordelia. She's supposed to remember how this goes, how to tell if Cordelia will be okay with this, but she doesn't, and not for the first time, she hates her brain for losing all of this information that she needs.

Or maybe she doesn't need it, because Cordelia grabs Fred's hand and places it on the curve of one breast; Fred cups it, letting her thumb rub over the nipple that's visible through bra and shirt, and Cordelia murmurs in approval. "You think too much," she says, and Fred decides that maybe she should just try doing, for a change.

Cordelia squirms against her, moaning as Fred's fingers tease her nipple, and that's enough to tell Fred that it's a good idea.


***




Fred wouldn't have noticed if she hadn't been looking at the door--or at least, in the direction of the door; she's not watching it, or anything, but watching Cordelia is giving her a crick in her neck, so she looked somewhere else, and noticed when the doorknob turned, and the door eased open a little.

She might not even have heard Charles saying, "Fred?" and then, a split second later, "Holy shit."

Fred gasps, and this time, it's not from Cordelia's mouth on her. The door closes quickly, but not quickly enough that Fred's entire body is red from embarrassment.

"What?" Cordelia asks. "And let me remind you that you can not expect me to be perfect the first time."

"No!" Fred says. "It was--Charles, he opened the door and--" She hadn't realized Cordelia's never done this before, and now she holds her breath, wondering if Cordelia's going to change her mind, to decide this isn't something she wants their friends to know about. Fred swallows hard and makes herself go on. "He kind of, um--"

"Got a free show?" When Fred nods, Cordelia laughs. "Oh, he is so dead," she says, but she's still grinning, so Fred grins back.

And then Cordelia goes back to what she was doing before Charles interrupted, and Fred's body proves it hasn't forgotten anything at all.