"What's that thing?"
"Oh," Cordelia says, "nothing. Just, it's a long story."
"Is it," and Fred squints, tilts her head a bit. "is it modern art?"
"well, it kind of was," Cordelia says, carrying over a couple of mugs. "It was a vision of this, statue thing? of rock. Anyway, it was the first vision I had, so you know. Angel says draw it and I try, only, it's some stupid modern art statue, so there you go."
Fred sips her tea daintily. "Your first vision?" and she's not sure whether this question is too rude or not.
Cordelia's hands grip the mug a little tighter, Fred notices, and her smile fades just a little bit. Fred's been studying everyone since she first got to the hotel, though, or otherwise it probably wouldn't have been noticeable. "Yeah," Cordelia replies.
When Fred realizes she's not going to elaborate more, she asks a little timidly, "and you framed it and hung it up?"
Cordelia wanders over to the framed piece of legal pad and straightens the frame. Her fingers don't really linger, not unless Fred's counting in microseconds but if then, they do, they really do. Cordelia gazes at it. "Well, you know," she said. "Sometimes it helps to have a reminder around."
Cordelia turns to her. "of, you know. how things begin, I guess."
Fred shrinks back, because even though Cordelia's obviously not angry or making fun of her, there's more warning in her tone of voice than she's ever heard before. "Okay, yeah," and Fred sets her cup of tea down silently. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry." She backs up a little. "maybe I shouldn't have asked, maybe I should ask Wes, or."
She was about to say 'or Angel', but Cordelia holds a hand up. "Don't ask him, okay? Angel won't wanna talk about it."
Fred nods, unsure. "I'm sorry," she murmurs. "I didn't know."
"It's okay. I know you didn't know," Cordelia says. Fred watches her fingertips on the handle of the cup. There's grief in the way that she clutches onto it, grief that seems at odds with the protectiveness in her voice. Perhaps, Fred thinks, it's a protectiveness, a closeness, that stemmed from grief, a grief for both her and Angel and that they never shared or even explained to everyone else. to anyone else.
"I'm sorry," Fred says again, even quieter, and she doesn't mean for asking. Cordelia nods again. Fred's new at the hotel, and some things, like this thing, this piece of paper in a frame, are old, and private, and painful. She doesn't say anything else.