She watches them change.

It's subtle, each progression unannounced, but it happens. She doesn't think they actually notice. Anyone else might easily miss them, and had she not paid such close attention to the details, she may not have been conciously aware of the transitions either.

She's the heart. At the center. Closely connected to all of them. She sees the things that are missed by the rest because she's learned to look. She's learned to extract every tiny and insignificant piece of information from everything she's presented with. That's her job.

It all happens so smoothly and quietly that it's only to be expected. The differences flow in a natural current, pulling them towards a new horizon with each whirl and eddie. They barely register the course themselves. No one from the outside would have any hope of keeping track.

She fancies that the Sunnydale group would be surprised by the change. Had they asked her, she'd have been unable to put her finger on what exactly had caused it. It didn't happen overnight, and it's complex.

Angel wanders past with that same absent expression, Connor nestled contentedly in the crook of one arm. Cordelia smiles. Some things were perhaps more obvious than others.

But there are other things.

Gunn doesn't wear his bandana anymore. The insignia no longer represents anything positive for him, but rather a distance he can't repair.

Fred moves further from her room and her shielded innocence every day as her false naivity is pierced. That persona is slipping now that it no longer protects anything, revealing a strength earned through hardship and suffering.

Wesley is a man of fewer words these days. Coredelia doesn't understand why she can't bring herself to talk to him anymore.

She is slowly shortening her hair as she moves away from the Cordelia of old. She doesn't like to think too much about what that might mean, or how much of herself she might be forgetting.

Change is supposed to be good, but to Cordelia, it tastes bittersweet. They've all had to make sacrifices, because you can't ride a bike with a gut wound, and you can't have a vision on a movie set. A baby certainly doesn't belong in an alley, and old lives can't always be merged into new.

She hopes that they're not all changing in different directions, and that she can keep them all together. The old Cordelia was perhaps up to the job, but that was before her little group got that much bigger.

Connor gurgles and distracts her. The warmth of a smile threatens again, but a niggling unease prevents it. Her train of thought broken, she goes back to her filing with a sigh.