Did you not get the memo?
The man was like a God, in the eyes of most of the nurses and F1’s at Holby, but Serena Campbell could see right through him. It was simply a power game – get the nurses on your side and you have them wrapped around your little finger. Serena knew he had some fancy technology in his ‘secret lab’ but she and Bernie actually used to help patients – their trauma unit was roaring before Nina Karnik bloody chose to close it down (not that Serena has a life-long-take-it-to-the-grave grudge or anything) – yes, he has performed ‘miracles’ and has excellent patient care but there was something pathetic about how he got all the nurses fainting simply at the sight of him. She may be biased, when Bernie arrived everyone knew her, Berenice Wolfe – esteemed army Major and trauma surgeon – and he had nothing on a beautiful, blonde, army medic who fought in war zones, got blown up and patched patients up, in the worst of conditions, with minimal resources. Bernie definitely wins.
She missed her… of course she did. Waking up in the mornings, operating together, strolling around the vineyard in France, even Albie’s after a long shift. But they coped. They had to – they managed it before and they will until the circumstances change – at least it wasn’t a long-distance relationship back in the dark ages with no Facetime or Skype or no saucy phone calls in the evenings. They spoke almost every day – it’s the reason both of them get through their shifts and they have both promised they will meet halfway for a long week or weekend once every few months. It wasn’t all bad. But she did miss her at Holby the most, France was fine – she made new friends, was grieving and coped but here, it feels a little lonely. She is in a relationship with her macho army medic (who she loves undeniably) but doesn’t want it to be the first thing people go to when they hear her name. The majority of the hospital know about her and Bernie, most of them saw her snog her under the mistletoe a couple of Christmas parties ago when she was rather drunk (although she did argue she was only ‘tipsy’) but it wasn’t always her go-to conversational topic.
Serena Campbell was a firm believer of the theory that you form an opinion of someone within the first six seconds you meet them and whilst acting as CEO she was certain she would communicate better with the wards, getting to know all the new faces. People had changed, some of the juniors were impressive, she reunited with old faces and greeted new ones. But when she first made her way onto Keller ward, she saw the formidable Professor Gaskell. Hanssen had warned her, said he was a bright thing, developing unbelievable procedures and the hot gossip of the Hospital. He was surrounded by a group of nurses, a new F1 she hadn’t seen before and even Doctor Copeland and a new nurse. They were encapsulated by what he was saying – using extreme overexaggerated gestures and had a firm eye of his prey. She supposed it was good to know that something good had come of Holby whilst she was away – some new celebrity amongst them.
She confidently walked over to the huddle before the nurses scampered off to find work, with the fear of the wrath of Serena Campbell. Dominic saw her and greeted her, before introducing Lofty beside him and returning to work – pulling Lofty along with him.
‘Ms. Campbell, I’m Professor John Gaskell, it is a pleasure to meet you. I have heard some great things about your work – I even read one of your papers from when you were at… Yale… was it?’ He spoke slowly with an intrigued tone.
‘Harvard… but yes. I haven’t written anything for a while but it’s nice to see you’ve done your research. I just wanted to come and introduce myself to the new faces on the ward. And it seems we have a celebrity in the land of Holby – Hanssen has told me about some of your works and I must say they are remarkable.’ Serena replied, staying completely professional.
‘Thankyou. Yes, Holby has been the most supportive and I hope this partnership continues. I have been doing a number of new projects, you should come down to the wet lab at some point, I can show you’
‘That would be nice,’
‘I heard about the circumstances in why you left for Sabbatical, I just wanted to say, it’s great to have your support whilst Mr. Hanssen is away. I can’t imagine what you must’ve gone through’ Gaskell touches her shoulder. She hated this bit, she is happier and healthier, she hates the ‘I’m sorry’s’ and the ‘oh… what terrible news’ but she bit the bullet and tried to concentrate on everything else.
‘Thank you. It was hard but now I’m back, and happy to be amongst old acquaintances’
‘Well then Ms. Campbell, I look forward to our partnership’ He shook her hand and left.
He was slimy. But at the same time generally understanding although lacking care. Something seemed odd but everyone was different she supposed. At least he is bringing something new to Holby, the neuro department was flourishing with him and Roxanna MacMillan but she still held a grudge towards that department ever since Guy Self. He was odd and she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she would try to deal with what he served.
Serena had been ‘in office’ for a few months – had a long five days away (after working countless night shifts and over time on the wards) with Bernie, where they stayed in their hotel room for the majority of their visit. It wasn’t luxury but for them was pure bliss. Serena had told Bernie of Professor. Slimy and how even Dom was swooning over him before promising that the only surgeon she needed was the one in this bed.
Throughout the weeks, Gaskell had tried to persuade Serena into funding three or four new projects. She tried to see the fascination in brain surgery, it was amazing what they could do (it only reminded her of that time her and Bernie’s patient was allergic to Wi-Fi) but Gaskell was asking too much. He had tried to butter her up with coffee (not strong enough) and little drop in visits to her office. She was genuinely fascinated at what he aspired to do but at the same time knew the money could go towards better patient care or to the maternity ward who needed it the most. She, of course, remained polite – told him she would think about it. She had been in surgery a few times, yielding the scalpel and remembering the good old days, her and Bernie’s ward – Fletch, Morven, Raf, Cam and for the first time in a while, she felt at home.
Gaskell knew how to wow an audience yet Serena had kept telling him she’d think about it, he knew she was busy being both a fabulous surgeon and CEO, but usually he had women eating out of the palm of his hand. What was he doing wrong, he thought?
‘Ms. Campbell, I was wondering if I could tell you about this new initiative I was thinking about. I am rather positive it would benefit the whole hospital.’ Gaskell questioned as Serena was leaving for the night, a nephew to attend to and a Skype call to make.
‘Okay, John. I’m free at the end of the day tomorrow’
‘Thank you, Serena. Goodnight.’
She nodded in reply. He had some bright ideas – most of the time cost effective and basic but useful. Although all she wanted now was to go home and rest after having been on her feet for at least eight hours.
The next evening, Serena met Gaskell, his over enthusiasm about patient waiting times and a new way to make them shorter. She knew Jason would get on with him.
‘I really think this is a good idea, John. If you could draw up a finer plan then we can discuss it at the board meeting on Friday.’
‘Thanks… Oh by the way, I have been meaning to talk to you about my friend Professor. Jennifer Adams, Consultant Vascular surgeon in London and we got talking about her recent research… your name cropped up, she said she remembered working with you a few years ago. She was very complimenting towards you.’
‘Oh yes… I must be at least 10 years now! Gosh. We did some research on the aorta a long time ago. How is she?’
Serena becomes encaptivated about the way he talks about the human body. That evening was a long one. They talk about vascular surgery, neurosurgery… even touch upon trauma and what she had done in France (although the subject of Bernie had not cropped up). He was interesting, she’d give him that, but the talk would never beat a lovely conversation of screws and metal plates in the leg of a man from a surgeon who was as equally as lovely. Before they knew it, it was 8;00.
‘I don’t suppose you want to go to Albie’s, I’m sure we can go join everyone – I was meant to be meeting everyone there anyway’ Serena suggested – looking forward to seeing her AAU family who had been waiting for her since 6:00.
‘Okay’ John nodded before retrieving his briefcase.
‘Finally… good of you to join us. Where have you been, Campbell?’ Fletch shouts over everyone in the pub as they make there way over to the bar. He had definitely started early.
‘I’m sorry, time just flew by. I’ve bought John by the way, he hasn’t been here before’ Serena replied.
‘In that case, what can I get you Prof? Serena… red? At least you can go home late tonight, nobody waiting for you’
‘You know me too well and I guess not!’ Jason was staying with Alan tonight, he wasn’t living back with his auntie full time but spent some week days overnight with her.
‘I’ll have a pint then, please’ John answered back, seeming rather happy in an environment he had avoided for some time. He often kept to himself, preferred putting the money behind the bar rather than actually enjoying it himself.
‘So… you’re on your own tonight?’ Gaskell questioned.
‘Yes… my nephew, Jason, he doesn’t live with me full time since I’ve been back – he’s at the cinema with his carer, Alan tonight – watching some Star Wars movie or something… I think.’ Serena replied, taking a large gulp of her wine.
‘Shame…’ John sighed.
‘Oh. It’s not too bad’ Serena said, thinking about the same Friday evening last week and her Skype call with Bernie. God, she was in for a treat, as she was promised. The conversation is suddenly interrupted.
‘Hey… Serena. How are you? How’s Bernie?’ Dom came over, rather drunk, putting an arm around Serena. She knew Bernie had a soft spot for Dom and she had told her about their rooftop conversations.
‘She’s good, the trauma unit is going well. She says that she misses your chats on the roof… and yes I know all your hiding places’ Serena smirked.
‘Well tell her to hurry up home and send her my love’ Dom said before making his way back over to Lofty.
‘Sorry about that… where were we?’
‘Serena… I was just wondering if you wanted to go out for dinner, get to know each other a bit better outside of work.’ John said with a sly smile on his face.
It suddenly hit Serena. Had she been leading him on? – if she had it had been completely accidental. Shit!
‘John… sorry, if you’ve got the wrong message. I’m in a relationship – I thought everyone knew that around here – it’s gone around the rumour mill long enough.’
‘Oh… sorry, Serena. I thought you were single. Oh no, this is embarrassing. When you said that no one was a home, I just assumed…’
‘It’s fine, my partner is away at the minute, that’s all.’
‘Oh… is he a Doctor, must be hard not having your husband with you all the time. Did he work locally before, I might know him? Must’ve been hard bagging a woman of your expertise.’ John quipped.
‘Err… she is a Doctor. Berenice Wolfe, used to work with me here before… trauma surgeon. She’s currently in Nairobi, where I was before’
The atmosphere grew awkward. You could cut the tension with a knife.
‘I’ve heard of her and her amputations in the field. Good work’
All Serena could do was nod in agreement. Both embarrassed at the awkward situation they had got themselves into.
‘Look it’s getting late. I’ll let you get back to your friends. Goodnight, Serena. Maybe let’s just forget this all happened’
Gaskell quickly retreated and coincidently didn’t bother Serena as much after that.
‘He rushed off in a hurry’ Fletch commented when walking back to Serena, a beer in his hand.
‘Yes… he might’ve asked me out on a date, not knowing about Bernie’ Serena giggled – she was mortified yet found it absolutely hilarious.
‘Oh no. don’t tell the Major, she’ll come back from Nairobi just to give him a kick up the backside.’
‘Stop it, Bern. It was horrifying. His smug face when asking - like he was doing me a favour. I said stop!’ Serena shouted at her computer screen. They were both laid of their respective beds, Bernie laid on her back, clutching her stomach, laughing at what Serena was saying.
‘Oh, Serena, it’s too funny. I thought everyone knew about us!’
‘Me too! The bloody rumour mill is big enough at the NHS and I swear he did a background check on me!’
‘It’s only because you are irresistible’
‘Nice recovery, Wolfe’ Serena smiled. She loved her dearly yet still could throttle her on a day to day basis.
‘I miss you’ Bernie spoke after finally calming down.
‘I miss you, too. So much every day’ Serena smiled.
‘I want to be the one taking you on date and drinking with you at Albie’s.’ Bernie spoke, a hint of sadness laced in her voice.
‘Me too, but we both have a duty and I am so proud of what you are doing out there and I am feeling okay here now. Soon love, we’ll see each other again. I promise.’ Serena glared back at her screen.
‘I know. I just wish I could have you in my arms again’
‘Soon. I promise. I love you, Bernie’ Serena said, staring at the beautiful woman on her laptop screen.
‘I love you, too’
‘Now what’s this surprise you promised me?’