Author's Notes: Originally written for the spred community on LiveJournal.
Lately Fred has been dreaming of home, when she does dream. Some nights she walks the Riverwalk, listening to the bandas as their music spills out of the restaurantes and taquerías, music that floats out on the smell of corn and the sharp tang of peppers. Other nights she is in the field behind her high school where she and Micah used to go to smoke pot at lunch, staring out across the waves of long grass, searching for something -- someone. The bell rings and it's time to go back in, but when she turns the high school is gone and she is lost.
She always wakes up then, alone and lonely. The isolation of Wolfram and Hart has set in. They tried to stay connected at first, they really did, but slowly the businesses of their various departments absorbed them and now they communicate more by interoffice mail and e-mail than they do face to face.
Charles, who she used to know so well, Charles she only sees on television once in a while after he's won a case. Wesley has retreated into his library, his books, and sometimes she wonders what he hopes to find there. Lorne she hears sometimes, as he walks around the building, phone pressed to his ear, and Angel . . . no one knows what has happened to Angel. He keeps his own counsel, as always. Fred knows he is gone much of the time, and when he is there he stays in his office and doesn't talk to anyone. Spike is the only one of them she sees with any regularity, and even then she never knows what to expect of him. Unlike Angel, who is reassuringly steady -- except when evil -- Spike changes daily. Some days he is charming, effortlessly flirting with her. Other days he is angry, cranky, brooding -- though she knows by now these are usually Angel-related -- and rarest of all he is quiet. Spike's silences mean more than his speeches. She hasn't decoded them all yet.
And so when Knox asks her what she is doing for the winter holidays, she finds herself at a bit of a loss. These past few years she has spent them with the staff of Angel Investigations, these people she does not know anymore. Before that she was in Pylea, where she was too busy surviving and hiding to worry about celebrating winter holidays, had there been any. Knox notices her silence -- her silences mean things too -- and awkwardly offers a spot at his parents' house for the holidays. She declines. She does not need someone else's family. She needs her own.
To Texas, then, where her mother and father wait for her. She takes the two weeks around Christmas off and pretends she doesn't notice the pain in Angel's eyes when she tells him she'll be spending it with her family. Her parents are overjoyed to see her, her mother happily babbling about how her room is back to just like it was before she left. Before she got lost. And before she lost her innocence.
The holiday passes quietly. It should be comforting, home, but it isn't. At night Fred lays there in her room of seven years ago and feels the loneliness even more keenly. She doesn't belong here, here in the room of a girl who believed in aliens and whose worst crime was smoking pot a couple times a week behind the high school. This girl still believes in aliens, but she also believes in much scarier things. And she has committed far worse crimes than smoking a little weed.
She wanders to the places of her dreams while she is there. The Riverwalk seems dimmer than it does in her dreams, smaller and older somehow. And the field behind her school is gone, developed, a housing addition. She feels a little silly for expecting the past to still be there for her, unchanged and familiar, wanting to slide back into the past and the place where she fit. She can't. Even in the places where things are still unchanged and familiar, like her house, she does not fit in anymore. She is not the girl that lived here and had posters of Fox Mulder on her walls.
She doesn't know who she is anymore.
Fred invents a work emergency and leaves for Los Angeles two days early, disappointing her parents, but she cannot stay there in San Antonio surrounded by the ghosts of who she is not anymore. She runs for Wolfram and Hart and sits blearily in her office, staring out the window, listening to the whispers of who she is becoming, this woman she does not know.
Spike slips into the doorway then. He does not cast a shadow on her office windows, but he is not as quiet as he likes to think he is when he moves, and after these many months, she knows the sound of Spike's movement. "Been looking for you, pet," he says.
"Me?" she asks. "Who am I, Spike? I don't know who I am anymore."
Another of Spike's silences then, another she cannot decode. She does not expect him to answer, but he does. "You're mine," he says quietly. "That's who you are."
She is. She smiles. It's not all of her, not all of this new woman, but it's something she can hold on to.