Rating/Pairing: G, mentions of Fred/Gunn
Disclaimer: Joss is God.
Feedback: Most appreciated.
Summary: These are the things Fred remembers.

Watercolor Stain
By Alena Fryin

Sometimes, Fred remembers.

She doesn't remember everything. It's in jig saw pieces, ones whose slants and edges never come together properly, but in spite of their failings, they create blurred images, images that hover behind her eyes, taunting her and teasing her with their ruthless combination of sweetness and acidity.

She runs her lab and they hum, quiet things in wait, and they come to her at random.

She'll be skimming over a report, endless lines of typed equations because no one bothers to hand write anything, because everyone at Wolfram and Hart is forced to hunch over, pray to their little Apple computers by company policy, and remember one incident, one scene she can't recall acting out. When Knox shoved her the lab, the first feature she noticed after she was done drinking in the scope of the gadgets and Bunsen burners and beakers that now belonged to her, was all the little Mac insignias decorating the computers.

It really figured that Apple and the Evil Lawyers were bedfellows. Cordelia must have known, Cordelia hands up in the air skirt bouncing around her calves, shrieking foul strings of language at the little laptop she gleamed from the Circuit City clearance sale at Memorial Day. Cordelia, strands of dark hair kissing her face, Cordelia, who taught Fred about lipstick and conditioner and what it means to be a hero.

Cordelia is not one of those half-there visions, and Fred it glad of it. Cordelia is solid, gold, iron, a girl and an image who does not fade away when she opens her eyes fully, is not sent shrieking back into the darkness of her unconscious.

As for the others--

The others are.

There was a summer, three months spent heaping together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cutting the crusts diagonally like a little mother, smile shaking on her lips like it was rattled by a California earthquake. An earthquake. She lives, will die, in California, breathes the smog and the seat salt and in that reverie of a summer she let Charles speed down the Ventura because that's what everyone does when the sunset is water colored by the ever present ghost of pollution. God drags cotton ball clouds across the sky with a celestial paint brush, and at nine thirty nine PM, the world is a Monet painting.

She remembers a boy whose skin is so fine she can see his bones dance beneath the skin when he hefted an ax, the silver length of a sword, off the shimmering floor of the hotel lobby. She remembers Wesley and the puckered skin running across his trachea, down to the left hinge of his collarbone. She remembers the violent upheaval of Cordelia's belly, the cracked capillaries snaking from the center, and the boy, the boy haunting her footsteps, the boy kissing her mouth and how that kiss, lust encircling it like a neon glow, had made her recoil.

She remembers a baby, pink fingers and toes that looked like rosebuds furling and unfurling. She remembers a woman in a courtesan's red dress, pregnant and irritable and screaming on the leather of Angel's car, remembers the crunch of bone when that same lady sunk a splinter through her own heart.

She remembers rain, blue in the post-midnight world, and Angel dipping down, elegant as a dancer, to swoop an infant off the concrete, to cup the newborn's skull in one deft and callused palm like a man who has just touched the Holy Grail.

These are the things she remembers, not the things she can puzzle out. She bottles them, examines them when there are no more bacteria and surging cells to peer at under her multitude of high powered microscopes. It's become a hobby, a hobby for dentist's office waiting rooms, for elevator rides from the first to sixty-sixth floor, for long traffic lights.

She catches the memories as they pass in front of her, one by one like butterflies.

It's slow, laborious work, but who knows? Someday, she just might get lucky. Someday, she just might get somewhere.

It's not as though she doesn't have all the time in the world.