Fred greeted the guard and entered the room, carrying a small Christmas tree. It wasn't pine or cedar and had no fairy lights, no shiny balls or gaudy decorations. It was not fake, or plastic, or dead, any of these would be an offense. The tree was a small rosemary plant shaped to represent a seasonal evergreen with a sticky sap that stuck to her skin and carried a heady fragrance that lingered on her clothes and hands.
There were no other decorations for the holiday, no other contributions to detract from the monotony. There were no signs that time did indeed pass in this place. It was as still as a tomb, or a temple. Fred was used to being quiet, though. She may babble and ramble at times, but she knew that there was a time and place for silence. This sterile room always seemed to require it, as if anything else would be disrespectful to the sanctity of this place or to the woman who lay so peacefully in the bed within it.
Other times, she wished to rage against that same peace. It felt unnatural, forced - white walls and white sheets, harsh fluorescent lights that robbed everything within of color, including the already pale skin of her silent, sleeping companion. Her fingers itched and her brain raced with the need to fill this space, cover those stark walls with color: words, numbers, and the secrets of her troubled mind.
She still wrote on walls, windows, blank sheets of paper and large white boards that could be wiped clean or covered with large sheets to hide them from the rest of the world. She had gotten good at hiding. The splashes of furious color would be hidden from the world, invisible to those who didn't understand her need for release, to let her thoughts and words tumble free, flow and coalesce somewhere outside of her and become tangible when they became too much for her to hold inside any more. It was as if the finite capacity of her brain could no longer hold the infinite processes of her thoughts, and she could no longer find a place to be still.
It was different in this place. The thoughts didn't tumble too fast, or set fire to her mind and limbs, with the need for release. If anything, this was a place of rest, where time stilled and slowed in a way the betrayed the very laws of the universe. She felt as if she were locked in the moments that she spent here, sleepwalking through them, with heavy limbs and half-dreamt thoughts, a universe centered around her companion. It was as if Cordelia exuded her own gravity, a shining star caught between life and death, where she was a part of neither and had not yet figured out whether to implode or explode, or do both at once, and so held everything in her vicinity on the brink with her.
Fred would sometimes hold her breath as she sat here. She thought that if she could be still enough, quiet enough, if she could match the frequency of her own vibrations to that of the woman who lay lost to them, and then she could reach out and touch her, know her. Then they could exist on the same plane, move forward, move back, move together. Maybe they wouldn't move at all; maybe, they would just be one - two variables in a matching state, that could no longer be separated or told apart, without beginning or end.
No matter how hard she tried, she knew that they weren't really the same. She had always known that. Everyone did. Even on Pylea where humans were less than cattle, they recognized this. Cordelia was a princess, a queen; Fred was a slave, a serf, and unsuitable for even that. That was okay with her, almost. Everything had its own place, its own purpose.
The universe was a place of balance, of symmetry. What goes up must come down. For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. As Cordelia's star fell, her own rose. They were opposite poles, separate yet equal. They needed each other.
This was a truth that she recognized and why she could not let Cordelia slip away into nothingness. Nature abhorred a vacuum. There must be balance. One half could not exist without the other. There was no light without darkness, nor darkness without light. If Cordelia slipped away, no longer existed, then so might she.
That is why she slipped in here so often, to remind herself of the woman who lay so quietly, so still in this sterile place. It is why she whispered her secrets and memories to unresponsive ears. It was why she would sometimes sneak back to the Hyperion and go through the boxes that held Cordelia's things. It was an exchange, a give and take. She would give a part of herself to this woman, and take a part of Cordelia with her. She would try to find a balance, the place where neither began or ended, so that they could exist together.
Maybe then neither would slip away, even if Cordelia should be gone, she would not be lost, and neither would Fred. They would always be together - here and there.
That is why she brought the tree, why she let the cloying scent fill this tiny room. Christmas is a time of hope and rosemary is for remembrance.